It’s Been Fun, ECI830!

overwhelmedI started this journey a little nervous about learning all the new technology such as WordPress, Twitter, and attending ‘virtual’ online classes.  In general, I felt comfortable with technology, but requiring to use a brand new program put a little extra pressure on.  As the weeks went by though, I began to feel more and more comfortable and really started enjoying listening to the debates and learning so much about technology and applications to education!  I loved being able to learn from the comfort of my own home!  I learned a lot of useful tools that will enable me to make connections or keep up to date with technology happenings, such as with Twitter.  After learning WordPress for this class, I even applied my knowledge to create a professional portfolio for my work at Saskpolytech.

The first class debate was titled, “Technology Enhances Learning”. I think that technology has the extreme potential to be used as a tool in education and only to the extent that the user can apply it.  I think as educators, we have the responsibility to stay up to date on all the latest technologies that could be beneficial for our students.

The second debate discussed how, “Schools Should not Focus on Teaching Things that can be Googled”. It was a very interesting debate but came down to teaching students how to use technology as a tool.  We need to teach students research skills using google constructively and how to weed through false and useless information.

In the third debate, students presented the topic, “Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids”.  This debate felt more personal to me as even though I do not teach children, I have a son in grade eight.  I am constantly wishing for better communication with the school, but at the same time I worry about what information exists in cyberspace about my children.  I remember a few years back when as parents taking pics of our children, we were told to shut off our location on our phones.  I think that this debate links back to the idea of technology as a tool.  If we know how to properly use it, with adequate privacy settings, there shouldn’t be any information breaches.  I think that communication is key to a healthy relationship between families and the schools so the answer may be the creation of a secure program used for this purpose.

I and my partners, Melinda and Allysa, debated for the agree side of the debate, “Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?”  I think we made some strong points as did the disagree side.  As educators, we need to ensure children are instructed in proper social media etiquette, to supplement what parents are telling them.  The risk to a child’s digital footprint is so high if social media is used in the wrong way, so proper education will have lifelong benefits.

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In the fifth and final debate, “Technology is a Force for Equity in Society”, it was argued that technology helps to enhance education for students in many ways.  The idea of technology as a tool was revisited and was the argument that when technology negatively impacts society, it is because the program developer has pre-existing biases, not due to the technology itself.

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Over all I learned a ton in this course!  I really enjoyed the debates and will definitely use the knowledge I have gained in my role as an educator, as well as increase my self-awareness of my own digital identity!  Please feel free to check out my final learning summary developed in partnership with Melinda and Allysa by clicking on the big blue button!

 

 

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Debate #5 Technology is a Force for Equity in Society

 

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Wow!  I can’t believe this is the last debate already!  I really enjoyed the debate on Monday evening discussing whether or not, “technology is a force for equity in society”.  Jen, Dawn and Sapna debated for the ‘agree’ side. I was also in agreement that technology helps to enhance education for students in many ways.  Some examples cited by the agree side included talk-to-text software, MOOCs, real-time video chats and many more.

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I liked the analogy of the digital divide in which the ‘can-nots’ can cross over to the ‘cans’ side but not the other way around, meaning that technology is beneficial but rarely harmful in regards to equity in society.  Usually the cost of technology is to blame for communities that don’t have access.

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They also said that technology is neither good nor bad but is used as a tool and therefore dependent on the user.  They made a strong closing remark that, “technology is a source of equity in the classroom because students can use tools to equalize abilities”. Dawn stated that digital divide should be ‘digital inclusion’ and that most importantly, educators need to model the way.

In the article, “How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity from the Suburbs to the Arctic”, Layla Bonnot discusses how free ‘open educational resources’ (OER) can help communities meet local needs, maximize education budgets, and ensure access to resources, in other words, it facilitates educational equity using technology.

The ‘disagree’ side which consisted of Amy and Rakan, did a valiant job of debating their side.  They discussed that technology has led to negative impacts on society in relation to;

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  2. Racial prejudice
  3. Digital Colonialism
  4. Lack of Access

They made some great points that made me pause and think!  I didn’t realize that a lot of computer programs had female voices!

I had to laugh at Jennifer’s comment that ‘SIRI’ is a female voice, and SIRI knows everything!  Checkmark!

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I agree that as educators, we have to try and make positive changes where we are able, especially to ensure technology is more culturally sensitive.  At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, we have a mandate to increase indigenization of all content, including the environment.  I try to incorporate ‘other ways of knowing and learning’ in classroom instruction.

Lack of equal technology access is a valid point since not everyone currently has equal access, although there are places where students can obtain access such as the library, school, a friend’s house, etc.  I did not pay for data on my son’s smartphone because there is such easy access to WiFi in the city.  It would be more challenging for rural areas where data access is hard to find.

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CIRA Canadian Internet Registry

I think this debate came down to a very similar argument as the first debate, ‘Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning’, that technology is a tool and is only as good – or bad, as the person or corporation using/promoting it.

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Debate #4: Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Media has been historically shown to influence attitudes, behaviors and knowledge of children.  Peer influence as measured by social media likes and dislikes can become a strong stimulus for unhealthy behavior in children!  Kids are looking for attention and are succeeding by sharing attention seeking posts featuring risky behavior; done for social acceptance.

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Erin, Brooke and Daniel debated for the, ‘disagree’ side, while Melinda, Allysa and I debated for the ‘agree’ side.  After hearing the ‘disagree’ side of arguments, I have to say that I still side with the ‘agree’ side.  Social media (SM) is a great risk to young children, so in that respect, it is ruining childhood!

Recently a survey showed 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves, called ‘Sexting’! If information is shared without consent, it is prosecuted under the criminal code  of Canada (Bill C-13).  If a child posts a provocative picture, again, consequences can be life-long.

It’s been scientifically proven that children have an under-developed pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain that moderates social behavior and decision-making. Social media was not designed for children!

Risk taking behaviors such as the ‘tide-pod challenge’ or ‘blue whale game’ are truly frightening!

 

My fourteen year old son thought that the tide-pod challenge was a safe thing to do because he ‘saw it on YouTube’.  DTWZTEkWkAA3FvrThank goodness I was able to talk to him about it before he actually tried it!  Whew! My son used to watch another YouTube channel that featured kids microwaving various objects to destroy them.  Again, I was able to catch my son before he did any damage, but what about other kids?

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The collective, continuing record of a person’s web activity is called a, ‘digital footprint’.  Risks of improper social media use include privacy violations as well as possible sharing of too much information, or posting false information about themselves or others. This could include joining social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook before the age of 13. If abused, children’s digital footprints may be forever damaged.

Kids always think that bad things won’t happen to them such as their information being misused, or, ‘what goes online stays online’ if posting risky pictures or information/ bad comments. Internet misuse may make children targets for fraudsters, cyberbullying, or pedophiles.

Most of the points raised by the, ‘disagree’ debate team was in reference to social media use by teens.  However, teens may be better able to navigate the internet as well as have better sense of what not to post when compared to young children.  That is why there are minimum age requirements for SM sites such as Facebook in the first place.

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Daniel commented that ‘I did stupid things as a kid and I didn’t have social media’.  I’d like to say that first of all, thank goodness we didn’t have social media, or I’d still be forced to relive those crazy things I did as a kid!  And perhaps those things would be detrimental to my professional career!  Secondly, I feel that my team’s argument was not that social media ‘causes’ stupid behavior, rather it ‘potentiates’ risky behavior that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

When I was a kid, my world consisted of my neighborhood and family, now, kids exist alongside the whole world as observers!  While this can be positive for learning, I don’t agree that SM improves childhood life experiences.  Technology may assist with learning and teaching children, but social media doesn’t benefit young children.  SM may be a benefit for older pre-teens and teens, but that population can use self-control and exhibit mature decision making abilities.

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As educators, we need to inform young children as to SM dangers, and encourage healthier forms of entertainment, such as playing outside at the neighborhood park. Social media amplifies some of the effects on young people’s natural tendency to risk taking, fueled by notions fame or instant popularity.   Permanent negative digital footprints are being developed as a result of posting risky information.

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Debate #3 Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids

 

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I am posting about this debate a little late, however, better late than never!  Amy, Dani and Joe were on the ‘agree’ side, and referred to the privacy rights of children that are violated before they can have a say, as well as risks of pedophilia, location disclosure and future childhood anxiety related to parents frequent postings on social media.

Kari, Esther, and Shelly were on the ‘disagree’ side, and used evidence such as the existence of a learning community that promotes parents interactivity with child’s school life, and stated that it is the teacher’s responsibility to model and teach ethical use of social media (SM).  They also said that new curricula should be considered as an addition to current curriculum that promotes positive digital footprints.

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I feel that I am on the fence as to whether I disagree or agree with the statement.  I am a parent of three children, my oldest child graduated before social media was a big thing – in 2002.  I got actual photographs from teachers of my daughter’s school activities.  Now, I just have my youngest child in school, in grade eight.  His school has an Instagram page and I get regular email communication from his teachers.  While I appreciate the increased communication as a result of technology and social media, I don’t like the idea of public SM communication from my son’s school.  I worry that his information could be used inappropriately such as Amy, Danielle and Joe stated.  I found this youtube video that discusses, ‘digital kidnapping’ in which predators steal kid’s information for nefarious purposes.

I would like to see more private types of internet communication in which I could still share in my son’s daily school life, but open only to family.  This would promote a positive digital footprint, as my child would have more say in how it is developed, rather than random pictures or information posted.  I seldom post pictures of my children on SM sites such as facebook, or if I do, it is only with their permission.

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I am glad to hear of sites such as SeeSaw, used by schools.  I am unfamiliar with it but it seems like a great idea!  I agree that SM and digital footprint education for children is key for appropriate sharing in social media sites.  I also think that schools need to regularly review and revise policies around social media use to keep up with ever-changing technologies.

Perhaps as Dani stated, we need to model from other countries which are coping well with meshing education and technology, and adapt our policies rather than re-invent the wheel.  As Alec said, refraining from posting information isn’t the answer.  Schools needs to be proactive in helping to shape children’s digital identities because they are already affecting children’s digital footprints; they can role model and teach prevention of dangers of sharing through social media.

 

The Great Debate: Schools Should Not Focus on Teaching Things That Can be Googled

This was an interesting debate!  I could definitely see both sides of this argument.  On one hand, as Nicole, Channing, and Jodie debated for the agree side, if learners already have core function skills, then google shouldn’t hurt.  It allows students to multi-task. I thought it was a good point that books become outdated very quickly.

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Jodie stated that rote learning (Eg. Multiplication tables) in general, does not stay with learners for life but is repetitive and therefore easy to lose focus. This is also repeated in the TedX talk titled, “Knowledge is obsolete, so now what?”

In the video, Pavan Arora states that memorization is a thing of the past due to so much knowledge at our fingertips because of technology and smartphones.  We can learn anything just by ‘googling’ it.  It also reminds me of all the tests I studied for in nursing school, most of that knowledge was spewed out for the exam and unless that skill was used, just flew right out of my head!  Knowledge that sticks is what is useful and must be applicable to ‘real life’ situations.

On the disagree side, Catherine, Amanda, and Shelby argued that there would be nothing left to teach if we limit our materials to what cannot be googled.  This is a very valid point!  I think it relates back to digital literacy.  Amanda made a good point that many things that are googled contain bad information.  Instead teachers need to focus on providing instruction for better research skills (using google) and critical thinking. The article called, “Teaching students better online research skills” called this, ‘smart searching’.  I don’t think google is going away anytime soon, therefore we need to make sure learners learn to use it wisely.

I also thought their point that googling is making students lose their attention spans and creating difficulty filtering out unnecessary information, or a ‘decrease in deep reading’ was very good.  Catherine pointed out that memorization lays foundational knowledge for higher thinking and strengthens brain connections. This is repeated in the article, “Why memorizing facts can be keystone to learning”.

I enjoyed reading the article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?”.  It states that there is a recent loss of deep thinking and deep reading because people think it’s just faster to skim the web.  I have experienced this a number of times with my adult students as well as my own teenage children.  It seems that if there is a debate on a topic or a question is asked, if you answer it from your personal knowledge, the other person will not be satisfied unless they reach for their phone and ‘confirm’ it with google!  It can be quite frustrating!  On the other hand, google can be quite handy for a general search engine.

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In the end, I have to say that I agreed with Catherine, Amanda and Shelby, who disagreed with the debate #2 topic, ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled,’ after hearing the excellent debates and reflection on the readings and my own personal experiences.

In the latter part of the class, I enjoyed hearing Alec discuss all the alternative search engines and teaching resources!  I never realized that algorithms are attached to each google search and can mess up our search results! Some great tips were given to prevent this and improve our search results.  Thank-you Amy, for mentioning the idea to, ‘google advanced search’ for finding ‘free for public use’ images!  I’ll definitely use that in my day-to-day work!

At the end of class, Alec asked, “In your discipline, is there any content that you feel you can replace?  With what?”.  Interestingly, research has proven that ‘high fidelity simulations’, as I discussed in my last blog, can improve nursing students’ critical thinking skills.  In my work in the Practical Nursing Program, ‘high fidelity simulations’ have replaced some real hospital ‘clinical’ work experience for the nursing students on a small scale, for now.

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For example, we are no longer allowed to take students to a pediatric hospital unit due to so many nursing programs vying for space and booking issues.  Instead, we are able to do a high-fidelity simulation at Saskatchewan Polytechnic Regina Campus, for students to simulate a pediatric clinical experience.  This is considered in some cases even better than real-life hospital experiences for nursing students!  Who knows what might happen in the future with constant technology improvements!

Technology Enhances Learning

I think technology closes the achievement gap, especially for those learners who may need accommodations due to various disabilities. I agree with others’ opinions that technology is a tool, to be beneficial only if wielded appropriately. Teachers have the responsibility to ensure students have access to any tools that may enhance successful learning.  I have personally seen a student nurse using a, “talk-to-text” phone app in a clinical setting, due to severe dyslexia.  Without this technological tool, she most likely would not have succeeded through nursing education.

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Other technological tools that students use in the Practical Nursing Program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic include a ‘high fidelity simulation lab’. This is the use of a computerized mannequin as a patient in a simulated hospital environment, that provides students a practice run through real nursing scenarios. A 2012 article from the ‘Open Nursing Journal‘, states that simulation leads to improved interpersonal communication skills, and to improve students’s critical thinking and self-confidence.

I think that cell pZombie Apocalypse techhone use has gotten a particularly bad rap because of ‘texting while driving’ accidents, or improper use of phones socially or professionally.  If one associates technology only with cell phone use, it is no wonder that they might be opposed to using technology in general, in the classroom.  In the classroom, students may be distracted by using cellphones; however without a cellphone those same students most likely would distract themselves in other ways. As mentioned in our last class, students need to learn etiquette of technology use such as not answering their phone in class, or turning ringer to silent.

Other forms of technology in the classroom may include the use of Powerpoint, YouTube videos, or in class surveys such as surveymonkey or wordcloud to promote learning.  In the Practical Nursing Program, we incorporate technology in adult education in many different ways including online courses, online lab preparation exams, phone apps like, ‘nurse central’, and smart boards, to name a few.

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In elementary and high schools, teachers should try to incorporate more use of cell phones in positive, educational ways, which would take away the thrill of having to hide it.  I remember I had one teacher in high school that offered pillows for students who would rather sleep in his class.  That way, he said, they weren’t disturbing others.  This would be a similar approach in the classroom, if students were not forced to hide using their cellphone.

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On a news website, ‘The Telegraph’, a 2016 study proposes that kids are so addicted to using cell phones that taking them away actually will cause, ‘smartphone separation anxiety’ so high as to affect learning and even grades! It goes further to state that ‘technology breaks’ should be offered in the classroom to lower anxiety and actually help to regulate cellphone use. Completely banning cellphones in the classroom is not the answer.

In the Practical Nursing Program, we are moving all course exams to be completed using personal electronic devices instead of written on paper.  Students cannot use smartphones to ‘write’ exams, but instead can use personal electronic devices like tablets.  They download an application called, ‘ExamSoft’, which locks down any other computer use during exam time. The rationale is that it this is more realistic as the Practical Nursing national licensure exam is written electronically.

The younger generation is completely immersed in technology, so I feel it is our responsibility as teachers to show students the right way, or etiquette of technology use.  We have to find out what is most relevant and beneficial to students by getting back to basics and actually asking them, such as through surveys. More research has to be done to discover how technology may be best incorporated and beneficial in the classroom.

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I think that to stay relevant and therefore engage students in learning, teachers must use technology to maximize and enhance learning.

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Technology has unlimited potential benefits! 

EC&I 830 – First Post!

Hello!  This is my first post on my blog site, many more to come!  I have never used ‘wordpress’ before but consider myself somewhat technologically savvy – I’m excited to learn new things in this course. I have taught and taken online courses in the past, so the online course format is a little familiar to me.

I teach at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in the Practical Nursing Program, and use technology regularly in the classroom.  I posted a picture below, just to play around a bit – but I thought it could represent the ‘start of my journey’ in EC&I 830.  This Journey 1is my third class for my Masters of Adult Education Degree. I’m looking forward to our next class this evening!