Final Reflection

Alrighty folks! This is my final blog post for EDTC 400!!! Woohoo the semester is almost done!

This semester we were asked to mentor some individuals in the course EDTC 300. I was assigned 3 individuals to be a peer mentor for. If I am being completely honest, I was not a very good mentor. Throughout the semester I followed along with my mentees learning projects and their post class posts although I failed to make meaningful comments on their posts. I often forgot to even make a comment on their posts, which was unacceptable. Not only did I struggled with finding the the time to create meaningful comments, but with the dates of when both classes occurred (my class on Tuesdays and EDTC 300 on Wednesdays) many of my mentees posts for the week had not been posted yet prior to my class, which helped me forget to make my comments.

I really enjoyed following my mentees progress throughout the year. It was neat seeing their responses on certain topics that I remember discussing when I was in EDTC 300. This helped me give more directed feedback, from own personal experience which I felt was pretty valuable!

From this experience I learnt that it can be challenging to keep up online with others, opposed to seeing people face to face. I also realized that online there is less room for open discussion because some people are afraid of their thoughts and ideas being taken out of context. This process taught me that I need to be way more organized than I currently am, if I want to teach online. It was tough to stay focused while reading posts, because after I clicked one hyperlink, I usually got sucked down into a wormhole. I also learnt that I’d need to figure out how to explain my thoughts clearly and concisely. As someone who will call their friends instead of texting (I’d rather talk to explain my thoughts), being completely online is a struggle that I would need to get used to.

To summarize I have learnt a few things from this experience, however the most standout one to me is that I need to be a better mentor. I frequently forgot to provide the feedback that was expected from us at the beginning of the semester. For that I am sorry to all of my mentees, and I hope to do better in the future!

Thank you to everyone who followed my blog posts throughout the semester, and to all of my peers who made comments on my posts! I appreciated it very much!

Do Educators have a Responsibility to use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice and Fight Oppression?

WOAH everyone did you know this was our last debate?!?!?

Well in my opinion I think we saved the hardest topic for last, “do educators have an responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression

Before I get into the readings we read this week I just want to highlight the importance of the differences between facts and opinions. An example that immediately comes to mind of a fact is that vaccinations WORK! While an opinion would be someone’s stance on something such as the Carbon tax.

So, now that I am back on topic, for our last debate we had Jesse (pro) vs. Daniel (con). This is an extremely interesting topic, about how far is too far going on social media. The pre debate poll was pretty close!

Jesse started us off with his three main points.

The first article that Jesse had us read made an interesting point, that “Education, at its core, is inherently political” (Tim Walker). So the argument that it is trying to make is that, sense education is political, therefore teachers should be able to express their views. But this also means that teachers have a responsibility to teach controversial topics such as racism in the classroom. Next we read an article which explained how teachers act as role models for students. That teachers should be

  • Encouraging digital literacy
  • Insisting on digital etiquette
  • Teach digital responsibility
  • Model and explain digital security

His next point was that it is not an effective teaching technique. That students need to expose themselves to different ways of thinking.

Next we move onto Daniels arguments!

Daniels first article spoke about a teacher in British Columbia who lost her job because she lived with a man before she got married. Teachers are always scrutinized in the public’s eyes. So by taking a stance on social media they could be threatening their own job, which is intimidating and makes many teachers uncomfortable. In one case, some teachers organized a class pipeline protest. Being completely honest I have a huge problem with this, but that is besides the point. This is causing us to almost “brainwash” our students, on subjects which do not have a right or wrong answer.

To conclude our debate we took our final post debate poll 😦 the results surprised me though!

I am going to try and explain my point of view on this topic in a clear and concise way. If any of you have any comments/ questions/ concerns please let me know! As usual to me this comes down to balance. Social Justice topics are super important to teach, we need to teach that racism is bad, what white privilege is, and how to work towards a more just society. Teachers have a platform and they should use it. However those topics have a right and wrong answer, like racism is wrong. When a topic is an opinion or controversial such as pipelines and carbon tax, we need to show students both sides of these ideas, and let them form their own opinions. By showing students both sides of ideas like these we are teaching them to think critically, and really look at what they value and what effects them. Also teachers need to be incredibly respectful when addressing these issues, because they have no idea what is going on in their home lives.

To summarize my point, I think teachers should use their platform to address social justice issues and to fight oppression BUT these are for right and wrong topics. This does not extend to controversial topics, because students have the right to see both sides in an unbiased way. If students are able to both sides of an issue, then they will be more informed on issues, and won’t be blindly following what they’ve been told. It lets students develop their own thoughts.

Are we too dependant on technology?

Hey-o Everyone!

So this weeks was debate #8! Since the Profs at the U of R are not going on strike, that means we only have TWO more weeks of classes!

Last weeks debate was an interesting one, we discussed whether or not we have become too dependant on technology, and if we should go back to the “good old days” before the internet. Jayden was arguing for this, while Kiera was arguing against it.

Jayden’s key arguments were:

Kiera’s main arguments were:

  • How technology is uniting the world, its creating a new type of community where it is easier to find people with the same interests, it’s exposing people to problems around the world, this causes people to take action (now that they know what is happening), in general it helps create a more unified earth.
  • Nancy Lublin’s Ted talk spoke about the power of texting. How she created an online text crisis line, how recording this data can help curb teen suicide rates, and can zone in on certain areas, and find what could be causing certain reactions.
  • The last video resource that Kiera had us watch was a video of 185 people from 12 different countries around the world all singing in the same choir. This shows how the internet can connect us all around the world.

Now where do I stand? As usual I think just like every other debate, it’s a matter of balance. I do not think reverting to the “good old days” would work, because I honestly could not imagine living without the internet. I definitely would not be able to do a research paper for school. Although on the other hand, I see the consequences of the overload of technology has on our youth. There is no getting rid of the internet, (I do not think that we should), just that we need to be aware of the consequences, and use it in moderation.

Has public education sold its soul to corporate America?

So, this week I FINALLY got to do my debate!

Before I start this really long post, I would like the thank every who participated in our debate and shared their opinions and thoughts!

Shaleen and I were debating whether or not we believed that public schools have sold their souls to corporations. I was arguing for and Shaleen was against.

I started off with an advantage from the pre class vote

When I started doing my research I found a couple sources that I really liked, that helped explain the side I was arguing. My first point was about the Common Core Curriculum, that was brought into state schools in 2015. The whole purpose of this was to implement a standard curriculum throughout all schools, giving each student an equal education. In a sense this is a really good idea, however how this was achieved was less than favourable. It was implemented into schools extremely quick into schools, without even piloting it in some schools. The thing I haven’t addressed yet is that Bill and Melinda Gates used their influence and money to get this program implemented into schools. Even though this is a good idea in principle, they used their connections to get it done.

The next point I brought up was the corporate sponsorships schools have with companies such as Coca- Cola and Pepsi. Yes, some good does come from these sponsorships such as getting new score clocks, new gym clothes, and even field trips. But at what cost? More now than ever students are having access to sugary foods and drinks, which can have negative long term effects on the students health. This is really smart for companies to do, because it creates a life time consumer and gets kids “hooked” at a young age.

The last point I had was about the monopoly that huge companies like Pearson have over the education system in the United Sates. Pearson not only creates many of the textbooks used throughout North American high schools, but they also create the standardized tests used in schools. They tailor their textbooks to their biggest consumers (Texas school districts). This can be frustrating for students who do not live in Texas, learning examples that they can not relate to in anyway. While with standardized tests the company who creates them profit from every time that a student writes them. Therefore if students fail and have to retake them, Pearson profits a second time from the same student. These were my three major points that I discussed with the class.

Next we heard from Shaleen, who had an EXCELLENT rebuttal, that she actually left me lost for words.

First she pointed out that the state of New York finally ended their contract with Pearson, so their students no longer have to write Pearson standardized tests. This is a great step in the right direction, and hopefully more school districts and states will follow behind New York! Her next article looks at the increased use and creation of EDTech technology used in classrooms. This looks at the profits which small companies have received because they have been able to get into this field. Shaleens main point here, was just because we have access to this information and use it, does not mean that schools have sold their souls, that they are just finding tools which will enhance and benefit their students education. Her next article describes the importance of investing in EDTech companies. That if governments are smart then they would be investing in these companies because they will benefit their students education.

I can honestly say that I stand with the side I had to argue, that large corporations have no place in schools and people with influence should not be given a free pass to implement new legislation without going through the proper channels.

Unfortunately this debate quickly turned into a discussion about how much we dislike the university, and we discussed the negative health effects a lot, so the post class poll was a little different then from the start.

Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

This week we had a really interesting debate on the topic of whether or not social media is running childhood. We had Lauren arguing for social media ruining childhood, while Kylie was arguing the con side.

To start the debate was usual we had our class poll, and this one was rather close!

Lauren started off the debate by providing us with four reasons why she feels that social media is ruining childhood. These are her four reasons why:

The first article Lauren had us read came from Lakeland Behavioural Health System. This article outlines how students are almost always connected online, and 73% of high school students have a smart phone or access to one. Some of the points that this article made is that:

  • Addiction is addiction, students are now addicted to their smartphones, and social media, meaning that some people feel they are unable to function without their smart phones.
  • They are spending less time outdoors, which has lead to high cases of ADHD and ADD. As well they are now missing out on the major health benefits that come from being outdoors.
  • They are becoming more and more distant from their parents.
  • Receiving less sleep, which has developmental consequences.
  • And has caused an increase in depression and suicide in teenagers.

The next article we read discussed some percentages surrounding technology. That 17% on children under the age of three own a smart phone or tablet. This is absolutely crazy. Then the fact which shocked me was that 78% of users ignore the age requirements. Those requirements are put there to protect the user. And considering that most apps age requirement is 13, this means that many kids are getting into social media platforms.

The last article she had us read talked about cyberbullying, suicide, and depression. Firstly it discussed the point that social media has had an impact on the empathy that teenagers feel. There is actual proof that teenagers now feel less empathy for others. Next it speaks about cyberbullying, and its effects on depression. Now more so than ever, more and more people have depression, and a cause of this can be from cyberbullying online. This is absolutely insane, because we should be protecting our children instead of enabling them, by allowing them even more social media accounts.

Next we heard from Kylie, about why social media is not ruining childhood. Her four major points involved:

The first article Kylie had us read outlined 5 reasons should not be concerned about their children’s social media use

  • It allows them to do good: It gives them access to see whats going on around the world, and gives them a platform to have a voice in the world around them.
  • It strengthens friendships: it allows people to stay in constant contact with one each other, no matter the distance which separates them.
  • Offers a sense of belonging: people are able to find others who share similar interests as them.
  • Provides more genuine support: this can help people find others with similar interests as them, even if they may be unusual
  • They can better express themselves: People can now express themselves more freely to those who share the same interests as them.

The next article I read was about the the effects of social media has on children. This outlined both the positive and negative effects that social media can have on children. It generally focused on these five major (positive) effects of social media:

  • not many restrictions on creatively expressing oneself
  • easy way to share information
  • informal support of other’s work
  • general understanding and respect of other people’s forms of expression
  • an alternative way of socializing (Chau, 2010)

Finally the final article we read was about the 5 reasons social media is good for your child. It outlined that:

  • It helps you stay got up with your friends
  • Helps collaborate with peers/ colleagues
  • Can help people discover new interests i.e.) Learning how to do makeup/ hairstyling, playing an instrument, or knitting.
  • Can help prepare you for the future, and
  • Can help people become more creative.

To conclude the class we had our post debate poll:

Surprisingly at the end of the debate many people flipped where they were positioned at the start of the debate.

Now, where do I stand?

I think that both debaters did a fantastic job articulating their thoughts, and expressing their ideas! And I want to congradulate both of them on that. Although I still stand that social media ruins childhood. I don’t think it’s all bad, just that children need it in moderation, and should not have access to it at all times. I come from the generation where everything changed, from having none of this to having all of it. My parents were quite strict with my social media use, and I am quite thankful for it. I saw the consequences that social media had on my friends growing up, I saw how it influenced their mental health, and how they chose to act because of it. Some of my friends were obessed with “likes” and “followers”. I even see this now with the my players who I coach, and it is quite concerning to me as a future educator. I lost a friend at quite a young age because of the link between social media and depression. I am not saying that all social media use is bad. Just that parents need to be aware of the effects it has on their children, and that they need to be more proactive in finding solutions to these problems.

Equity vs. Equality

In last weeks debate we discussed if technology is a force for equity in society. We had Ryan (pro) vs. Kaytlyn (con).

The Pre debate vote, was the closely divided vote yet!

For the initial voted that I disagreed with the statement that technology is a force for equity in society.

Ryan started off strong with some really good ideas that he shared in his video!

Prior to this debate I never thought of how beneficial technology can be for those with disabilities. Ryan went into great depth explaining this, and even using the example of Stephen Hawking. He also explored the ideas of how technology enhancing education in the world and it gives a voice to the youth. He had us read about Dell’s Youth Learning Initiative, where dell helps provides technologies to youth around the world, in hopes that this will help them grow and further their learning. The Guardian wrote an article which explores how technology has empowered the youth. Over five billion people around the world now have access to the internet, this is causing people to break down barriers, and it is giving students a way to connect with people around the world. It is also giving them the opportunity to further their own education, and what type of information that they find. In many ways technology is creating equity in society, it is giving people with disabilities opportunities that they never had before, and it is empowering people around the world.

Next we heard from Katelyn who was debating that Technology is not a force for equity in society.

Katelyn had some fantastic points that she made. She started off by discussing the issue of access. Not every school has access to internet, especially schools in rural communities. As well the internet costs money, so some schools are unable to afford this because they are running other types of programs, such as before/ after school programs, and hot meal programs. The next article we read discusses what happens to students who do not have internet access at home. Even if schools are equal and every student has access to a computer, what about those who do not have internet access at home, therefore they are unable to complete the same school work as their peers. Finally we are brought to the point of the Digital Divide. This was coined in the 1990’s to describe the divide which has been created by those with access to computers compared to those who do not. This gap has drastically closed throughout the years as devices become cheaper and more affordable and there is much more access, however this gap is still relative.

To close out our debate we had our second class poll, this was the result:

You could probably guess where I ended up? As usually I ended with more questions then answers, standing in the middle of the road. This is why I titled this blog post Equity vs. Equality. Equality means everyone gets the same, while equity means everyone gets what they need to be equal with the rest. When looking at people who have disabilities, technology has definetely caused equity, it’s giving them opportunities that they have never been able to have before. However on the other hand technology is causing deficits for those who do not have access to these programs at home. I think technology is a great tool to use in classrooms, but as teachers we need to be aware of the demographic that we are teaching, and make sure that how we are teaching is inclusive of all students.