Summary of Learning

Well, this is a wrap on my first graduate studies class. I couldn’t have pictured a better class to start off with!

I used VideoScribe to create a whiteboard style summary of my learning for this class. I really enjoyed the process of recording and making this video. It was a new experience for me. I am super thankful for my decade old iMac that survived the task. Thank you to Katia, and all of my classmates for the wonderful semester. I hope you have a great rest of the summer.

Simply Good Teaching using Assistive Technologies

This week’s presentation by Reid, Daniel, Darcy and Janeen on assistive technology (AT) had me thinking deeper about some of the assistive technologies I have used in my classroom. I am always doing my best to meet the needs of my students, but as a new teacher, I haven’t always thought critically about their impact on all students. I have seen students feel singled out using a particular support to the point of them not wanting to use it anymore. And on the flip side, I have seen other students embrace AT and feel supported to the point where they “own” their circumstance or diagnosis (although, many of my students were undiagnosed at the time).   

As teachers, we are always finding ways to support our students, whether through a UDL framework or differentiating our instruction and assessment. It is in my nature to support my students however I can. Sometimes this means trying new supports until we find one that works and is sustainable. Overall, when it comes to applying support for a specific need, I try to apply that support across the board so all of my students can benefit – if it works for one, it usually works for all. Some examples include graphic organizers, large print, easy-to-read fonts, timers, visual supports, and my class microphone. This is described in the article “What is Universal Design for Learning?” as a model of teaching and learning that is inclusive, equitable and promotes the use of accessible course materials (2011c).

To many people, UDL is simply good teaching!

Center for Applied Special Technology. (2011c)

In my opinion, the most important piece of the UDL model is equity. Creating an equitable classroom is important so every learner can succeed. I talk about equity with my young primary students. At this age, students begin to understand that every child is unique and has different needs. And they see that support is provided differently in the classroom (EA support, devices, tools etc.). I use a similar example to teach my students about this to the one Darcy used in his breakout room. When the topic of fairness or equality comes up, I tell my students that I have to wear glasses or contact lenses to help me see. I ask them if it would make sense for me to give everyone glasses? They say no, and we make a list of reasons why. We talk about other examples including desk size and height, access to devices, wheelchairs, and stools. My students are able to refer back to this when an issue of fairness or equality comes up. 

https://lifeline2teach.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/equityvsequality.jpg

Having taught Pre-Kindergarten through to Grade 6, some of the AT from no tech, low tech and high tech I have used includes:

  • Large print, readable fonts
  • Visual graphic organizers (schedule calendar)
  • Timers
  • Writing supports
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Reading supports
  • Picture dictionaries, personal dictionaries
  • Cardboard offices
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Fidgets
  • Google Read and Write
  • Wobble chairs
  • Seat cushions
  • Flexible learning spaces
  • Classroom microphone

When I compare these assistive technologies with the philosophies and theoretical frameworks of learning, I would fit them with constructivist learning. Students use assistive technology from no tech to high tech to assist them in constructing knowledge. For example, when a teacher incorporates Passion Projects or Genius Hour type learning in the classroom, students can use AT like Google Read and Write to help them research, record and write about their learning. They can take advantage of flexible learning spaces and work in an environment that supports them. And lastly, they could use noise cancelling headphones to help them focus and limit distractions. These are just some examples. 

When it comes to challenges and limitations, there are many. Daniel talked about some of the social and cultural barriers that AT can create. Students and teachers using AT can face learning curve challenges including frustration over use and understanding how to use the AT. There can be high costs, including yearly fees and expensive devices. Students may require a diagnosis in order to receive funding. In addition, students can become distracted by AT, there can be tech failure, there can be compatibility issues, quality issues, as well cleaning and sharing challenges. 

In terms of wearable technology, I have limited experience using it in the classroom. I certainly appreciate the convenience of my Apple Watch and use it daily to check the weather before recess, set a timer, take class pictures, etc.  I have also had students with diabetes using wearable glucose monitors. Wearable tech is an area of advancement I am excited to see grow.  Reid talked about several wearable technologies in his presentation. The example of his intern using a GoPro to film land-based education was fantastic. In the future, I could see myself using a GoPro to film lessons, if I had one available to me. What a great way to record a live lesson and allow students who were away or learning at home to be a part of the lesson! 

In the article “Wearable Technology and Schools,” Sandall mentioned “wearable tech can increasing a student’s ability to interact with the environment more naturally, to be innovative and creative, and to access information easily without obstructions.” I agree with Sandall that students can interact with the environment more naturally, but I still think the in-person experience would be the best experience. There is no doubt that technology brings us beneficial alternatives.

In summary, as I look toward the future and using AT in my practice, I am looking forward to utilizing technology where I can to support my students. As a result of this class, I will be looking at AT more critically. Can I use the technology with all of my students so no one feels singled out? Is there a simpler, more cost effective way? And as Janeen emphasized, the most important question “Is the technology being used to support the learner?”

Assessing My Assessments

This week’s presentation by Christina, Janelle, Laurie and Ramona on assessment technologies provided a well-rounded look at assessment tools. The group highlighted the foundations of assessment and informed me of some tools I had not heard of before, including Class Dojo. I won’t get into Class Dojo, but I will say “Yikes!” As I reflect on the assessment technologies I have used in the past, and ones I currently use, I typically ask myself two things. The first is how does the tool support student learning? And two, how does it help students show me evidence of their learning? If it misses the mark on these two questions, I steer clear. 

Applying Assessment Technologies

In my classroom teaching, I use assessment technologies to assess my students formatively. This week’s article “7 Smart, Fast Ways to do Formative Assessment” by Thomas, highlighted several effective ways to do formative assessments. I agree with Thomas, in that teachers need a variety of low-stakes, quick and easy formative assessment tools to gauge student understanding. Some of the go-to’s in my toolbox are low-stakes quizzes and polls like Kahoot, Quizlet, Socrative and Plickers. 

I also use Seesaw as a tool to demonstrate and share student learning throughout the learning process. I like the versatility and user-friendly nature of Seesaw. My students are able to show learning through text, videos, recordings, drawings and photos while incorporating differentiation and accommodating different learning styles. Seesaw does a great job engaging students, showing evidence of learning and encouraging self-reflection. I give feedback directly to students through the app and can share this evidence with family members. All of this is stored as a portfolio so all stakeholders can see student growth throughout the year. 

After seeing first hand through this course, how beneficial blogging has become in my learning, I decided I would like to incorporate blogging with my students this year. I did a bit of online searching and found that Seesaw has a blog feature that allows students to connect globally with others to showcase their learning. I’m not going to lie, I am super excited about this!! Side note: This year will be the first year that I start teaching a class at the beginning of the school year. My previous teaching assignments had me starting mid-year, so being able to plan for the duration of the school year has me pumped. It will take a bit of time to get my Grade 2/3 students set up and moving forward with this (parental permissions, connecting with the other educator(s), and determining what we will post, etc.), but I am excited to see where the connected blog will take us. 

 A few things that have me excited about Seesaw Connected Blogs are:

  • Students will have an authentic audience.
  • Students will be encouraged to do their best work knowing that it will be “published.”
  • Students will get real feedback from other students and parents.

According to Seesaw, posting to the blog is simple and seamless. The video above shows how you can get started and answered a few of my questions. The blog can be password protected so only those authorized will have access (the other class/educator and parents). All posts are moderated by the teacher before they get published. Last names of students are private. And comments require teacher approval before going live. Through Seesaw Connected Blogs students will develop 21st Century skills and have an opportunity to connect locally or globally. Have you or anyone you know tried Seesaw Blogs? I would love to hear your feedback.

In addition to trying Seesaw Connected Blogs, I am hoping to improve my assessments by utilizing digitized verbal feedback on Seesaw. In the past, I only gave text feedback on student digital work, but after reading the article, “The Importance of Using Digitized Feedback” this week, I see how beneficial voice feedback could be. I’m really shocked that I hadn’t thought about this before! I like to think that I am open-minded and willing to try out new things, but this just proves that I can get complacent in the way I do things. Not only would this be quick and easy for me to do as a teacher, but it would definitely add that “human” element to feedback that Chohan wrote about. 

“Digitised verbal feedback allows for the teacher/student emotions to be conveyed through voice. This is extremely powerful and often a major motivating factor for students.” 

Chohan (2021)

I know my students would benefit from hearing me give them feedback and it would be so nice for them (and parents)  to hear my excitement and encouragement about their work!

Changing Discourse… Web 3.0 and Beyond

What is Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0?

The process of learning is changing, and changing rapidly, due in part to the internet. It can be hard to keep up on all the new and emerging technologies out there. After learning more about Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 through researching and presenting with my group (shout out to Kat, Arkin and Chris who were fantastic), I am certainly more critical of the evolving technologies and of the web. And thank you to everyone in class for the meaningful discussion in the Discord chat during our presentation. I have many takeaways and have come away with many questions. What implications are in store for education? How do educators approach this changing discourse? Does access to information, resources and tools, naturally result in knowledge or understanding? How do we ensure that meaningful learning is occurring online? It is a daunting task for educators to keep up to all the “newness” flying at us. 

Before I get into these questions, this table is brief overview of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 as outlined in the “Comparative Study of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0” by Naik & Shivalingaiah (2009).  

Web 1.0Web 2.0 Web 3.0
– Read only ecology

– Information retrieval

– Interlinked documents

-Content is consumed 
– Referred to as read-write

– Content is consumed, created and shared

-Users can connect, interact and collaborate
– Read-write-execute 

– Immersion of users with content

– Content is personalized, artificial intelligence and data tagging

-Users network, create and share
Examples:

Static web pages
Hyperlinks
Examples:

Blogs
Wikis
Social software
Podcasts
Email
File sharing
Examples:

Learning communities
Virtual reality
Artificial intelligence
Data sharing
Naik & Shivalingaiah (2009)

Here comes the Internet!

Since its inception in 1990, the internet has grown to be a vital hub in various industries like healthcare, education, business, and government. The internet allows us to browse websites, become educated, connect with family and friends and even shop for groceries. This throwback video from The Canadian Encyclopedia article “Internet in Canada” (2021) highlights one Quebec woman’s sentiments towards online grocery shopping almost twenty five years ago. 

As the internet grew in popularity in the mid 1990’s, retailers created online stores and universities created online courses. Interestingly, as mentioned in the above video, at this time, only 4% of Quebecers were connected to the internet. According to Statistics Canada, in 2018, 94% of Canadians had home internet access. Many of us today would cringe at the thought of losing our internet access. My family experiences internet outages on average a couple times per year, usually due to high winds that down lines in our community. When this happens, we can be without the internet for anywhere from a couple of days up to a week. This disruption in our lives is minute compared to the experiences of those living without internet access, or even those without access to basic human needs like food, water, and shelter. I certainly recognize the privilege I hold in this space. The evolution of the internet has not benefited all Canadians the same.

The Web and Education

“The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web.  The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0.  The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.” (Jackie Gerstein)

Gerstein equates the evolution of Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 to the evolution and changes in education, deemed Education 1.0 toward 3.0. This change has resulted in a shift in how we learn, what we learn, where we learn and why we learn. Further, Gerstein takes this shift one step further and states that moving from Education 1.0 through to Education 2.0 is similar to the shift from pedagogical/instructivist/behaviourist learning (Education 1.0) through to constructivist learning (Education 2.0) and now into connectivist/heutagogical learning (Education 3.0). In the image below used in our group presentation, I outlined this shift and connected both the Web iterations and the learning theories. 

Created using Genially

What impact does shifting to Web 3.0 and beyond have on education?

The shift to Web 3.0 and Education 3.0 will allow learners to connect, create and construct knowledge with the help of the educator as a guide. The students become the authors, drivers and assessors of their own learning. The shift also highlights a different type of classroom, where students use a wide variety of learning resources, tools, apps, experts and other learners to create a personalized learning experience. The educator then becomes a coach, cheerleader and uses their life experiences and knowledge about teaching and learning to create a safe and supportive learning environment. Learners themselves also become teachers, mentors and models for one another sharing their learning styles and experiences with one another.

This model of learning is evident in this very course, as I am learning while reading others blog posts and presentations. I have takeaways from each part of the course. One of the most influential facets to my learning is reading my peers’ blogs. I have gleaned insight, reflected upon and critiqued my practice. The picture below is a great visual of some focus areas. I recognize things that I am doing already (whole person learning, learner voice and choice) and other areas I need to work on (use of learners community, self-determined learning).

https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/tag/education-3-0/

What types of students and teachers are privileged/ disadvantaged by the shift to Web 3.0?

Privileged
Students and teachers with access to devices are privileged. Those with access to good internet connection. Financially secure individuals.
   
Independent and creative students will thrive as there is a shift from students consuming teacher provided content to student creation of content.

And likewise, creative or experienced teachers will be able to develop engaging assignments and will thrive.

Technology and the internet tends to value gendered, Western and white perspectives. There is no filter when you search the internet that will prioritize the information of other cultures.
Disadvantaged
Digital and technology resource equity is not new. Those who have a lack of access to devices, internet connection are disadvantaged. Think of inner city, rural, remote and northern communities.

Learners facing socioeconomic and sociocultural inequities are also disadvantaged. Vulnerable groups of learners include students of color, low income, age, family dynamics, exceptionalities, employment status, EAL, LGBTQ2S+ who may be discriminated against through terminology and language used that may not be accurate and respectful on the internet. The intersectionality of identities is also a factor that can put someone at a greater risk for oppression and discrimination.

Cultures and religions who oppose technology are disadvantaged.

Indigenous educators may be disadvantaged because ceremony becomes difficult online, as well as oral tradition, storytelling, land-based learning and talking circles.

Those with privacy and data usage/storage concerns including parents, teachers and students are disadvantaged. A large amount of personal data is collected without fully knowing the implications.

Changing discourse

gerstein 8 pic
https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/tag/education-3-0/

As I look to the future, my goal is to continue to move towards Education 3.0 with a growth mindset. In teaching, things don’t always go as you plan or you are thrown for a loop as we were during the pandemic, but you keep moving forward. This graphic highlights some key takeaways for me. I am willing to take risks and try new learning activities using technology. I will connect with other educators, now through Twitter, and through graduate classes to enrich my learning and build my PLN. I can bring my passions and my students passions into learning. And most of all, I value the relationships I have with my kiddos and strive to make a difference in their lives.

A Reflection of Online Teaching

This week, Fahmida, Mike, Jacquie and Josie prepared a fantastic presentation on Tools for Distance and Online Education. The group highlighted the foundations of various tools that are used for online learning, as well as emphasized the need for anti-oppressive pedagogies while using these online education tools. 

Online Tools I Use

I have experience using various technologies across the elementary grades, having taught Pre-K through to Grade 6. However, my use of these technologies could definitely use some honing. I am certain I have not used them to their full potential nor fully realized their disadvantages. Tools I have used for online and blended learning include:

  • Seesaw
  • Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Meets, Google Classroom
  • Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Kahoot
  • Menti
  • Remind
  • MysteryScience (Mystery Doug)
  • Mathletics
  • Epic!
  • RazKids
  • GoNoodle
  • Flipgrid
  • Padlet
  • Quizlet
  • Kami (pdf extension app)

From this list, the tools that were most relevant while moving online during the pandemic were:

  1. Google Classroom – This is where I posted assignments, instructional videos, rubrics and feedback for my students to access throughout the week at a time that worked best for them.
  2. Google Docs – This is how I created my weekly schedule for students and assignments/feedback. I provided students with a daily schedule and a weekly schedule to keep them organized. 
  3. Seesaw – This is a tool I used pre-pandemic and during remote learning to communicate with students and families. I send activities that students complete digitally. Students are able to send video and voice recordings back to me as evidence of their learning. I can then share this with families.
  4. Epic/RazKids – Students are able to read at home using these programs. I appreciated being able to see who had logged on, the duration of their reading and what they were reading (fiction/nonfiction).

Learning Experiences

When the pandemic hit, I was teaching Grade 5/6 in a rural South Central school. I had a class of over 30 students. Many of my students were sharing technology at home with their siblings. Many were sharing a poor internet connection with everyone in the house, as family members were now working remotely as well. A handful of my students had no digital access, as they live in a geographical area with extremely poor internet. I was eager to connect with my students through Google Meets and utilize online tools a bit more. This eagerness was also met with frustration when trying to troubleshoot tech problems.

When I think about the tools I was using during this time, most were not new to me and my students, but some were. The main tool that I used was Google Classroom. My Grade 5/6 students were already set up on Google Classroom pre-pandemic, so they were familiar with it. Google Classroom was the “hub” of our class activity. Most importantly it allowed me to interact with my students by setting up Google Meets that were easy to join. Students didn’t need to worry about other apps like Zoom or Skype. In the Ananga article, the importance of teacher-learner interaction was highlighted and was deemed “very essential.” Furthermore, the article pointed out that “instructors and learners value synchronous discussions that allow them to interact in real time.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, as my students really thrived during this time. They thrived because they could interact with me, their peers and it gave them the social interaction that they missed from synchronous learning. 

Another tool that I used was the Kami pdf extension for Chrome. This free tool allows you to add text boxes, annotate and draw on pdf’s. I mainly used it to provide feedback on my students writing and comment on assignments that were scanned to me. It worked, but it was somewhat cumbersome. To help my students and their families, I created a visual instruction sheet and video showing them how to add the extension and how to use it. In the end, about half of my students were using this tool. Other students preferred to complete their “paper package” bundle of work and drop it off at the school. It is important for educators to provide choice to students. My classmate Jacquie wrote about providing her students with choice in terms of connecting with content, peers and the teacher. She wrote that some students had anxiety connecting virtually and preferred to connect through messaging even though they were present in class. She clarified that she was reminded “of the need for intentionality in the classroom and how inclusivity is a conscious choice to offer choice to students of how they interact with the content, their peers and myself.”  Reflection and a critical review of the tools we use is important as we navigate digital technologies and online and blended learning in the future.

Source: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/kami-pdf-and-document-ann/iljojpiodmlhoehoecppliohmplbgeij

If you were to ask your students about online learning tools, what would be their most liked tool? Why?

The Temptation To Multitask

Watching Hamblin’s video “Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking” seemed like a test. I was hyper-aware of the temptation of multi-tasking stimuli nearby me. My phone. Email. News App. Apple TV remote. My drifting, wandering mind. After all, I do have a long to-do list to get done today. My 13 month old had his first sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house last night, so my partner and I can work on homework today. I really need this to be a productive day. But still, there are so many distractions. My cat, for one, is certainly loving the fact that the baby is out of the house and she is trying very hard to get my attention while I work. 

Photo of my cat Lenny as I write this post.

I am embarrassed to admit this, but when the video ended, I looked at my tab bar and counted the number of tabs I had open…38. 38!! I had two other windows open with a single tab in them as well. Yikes. I can’t possibly be doing 38 things, and doing them well, all at the same time. But I am. Like I said, my Thursday to-do list is a mile-long:

  1. Finish EC&I 833 presentation slides.
  2. Review EC&I 833 presentation talking points.
  3. EC&I 833 blog post #2.
  4. ECI&I 833 readings.
  5. EC&I 833 blog post #3.
  6. Read and comment on my peers’ posts.
  7. Tidy my house.
  8. Fold towels.
  9. Water the flowers.
  10. Make a grocery list.
  11. Get out for a walk.
  12. Facetime and check-in on my little guy. I hope he is keeping it cool in this heatwave!

With this long list ahead of me, I suppose I would say the internet is both a productivity tool and a never-ending pit of distractions, if you let it be. Currently, all 38 tabs open in my window pertain to EC&I833. So for me, right now, the internet is a productivity tool. I am utilizing the web to:

  1. Research – I have articles, blogs, reports and papers open.
  2. Learn – I have watched videos that I will want to revisit again (how to pronounce heutagogy, how to embed links in my blog).
  3. Connect – I have URCourses and email open.
  4. Collaborate – I am working with my group through Microsoft Sharepoint (Powerpoint) and Google Docs on our presentation.
  5. Create – I am blogging.

*WINDOWS SHUTTING DOWN*

Me: “Ugh, you’re kidding me!?”

My partner: “What happened?”

Me: “My computer just shut off.”

My partner: “That sucks.”

Me: “…My tabs!!!”

I faintly recalled the “Your battery is running low.” message that popped up about 10 minutes ago. I was too busy working to get up and grab the charger. Now that my laptop battery died, I was forced to get up. I plugged in my laptop, booted it up and opened Chrome, all while worrying if I would be able to restore my browser and tabs. I clicked on the history tab and opened up the “42 tabs” option. Either my counting is off, or I opened more tabs since watching Hamblin. Voila! I had my articles, websites and links back, and some! Phew. 

This, I feel, is a good example of productivity tools actually making us more productive. In a matter of a few seconds, I just saved myself from having to go down the rabbit trail of opening documents, searching websites, and loading all of the information I need to get back to work. The internet and productivity suites allow us to connect, synthesize, and review information. My classmates Raquel, Kelly, Deidra and Allison did an awesome job presenting on this very topic. In their presentation, the group highlighted some of the advantages to using online productivity tools. The ability to collaborate and have seamless digital access is rooted in constructivist theory. Over the short duration of this class, I have come to understand the inextricable link between the course instruction and learning taking place. This course has roots in constructivism and connectivism. Each assignment and the tools we are using play an important role in our learning and in our construction of knowledge. The discord app, blog hub, and productivity suites like Microsoft and Google allow us to collaborate and communicate. After reading the required articles, engaging in class presentations and discussion, and watching the course videos, we blog and reflect on our learning. Then, we engage with the content once again by reading and commenting on classmates’ learning. We reflect again when reading the comments posted by our peers to our blogs. In doing all of this, we are taking a critical look at the information forming our knowledge. One’s knowledge is a web of interconnectedness that continues to grow and expand. Bates summarizes in Chapter 2 of Teaching in a Digital Age that:

“Knowledge is not just ‘stuff’, or fixed content, but it is dynamic. Knowledge is also not just ‘flow’. Content or ‘stuff’ does matter as well as the discussions or interpretations we have about content. Where does the ‘stuff’ come from that ebbs and flows over the discussions on the internet? It may not originate or end in the heads of individuals, but it certainly flows through them, where it is interpreted and transformed.”

Bates (2015)

As multi-tasking learners, we bounce around the web as our knowledge is formed. We open, utilize and store tabs with information for immediate processing, or keep them open to be revisited later. This allows us to be productive learners.  I would argue that the internet has afforded us the ability to be more productive learners than we were in the past. However, it can send you down a rabbit hole if you let it (hyperlinks, videos, related content just to name a few).

Source: https://www.peakpx.com/en/hd-wallpaper-desktop-kozii

Our society looks at being productive as getting work done, but am I being productive if I go to the playground with my son? Cuddle with my cat? I would argue yes. What do you think? We need those moments in our lives to ground ourselves in the present. To reduce stress. To enjoy moments before they pass. To take a break from our to-do lists. 

*FaceTime Video* – I miss my munchkin. He misses me. 

Let’s face it. It’s 2021 – multitasking is what we do. We have never-ending lists with things that need to be done. In order to be “productive,” I write lists and check items off. I enjoy seeing my list getting smaller. There is one piece of advice that came from a former supervisor that has always stuck with me. If you have a task that will take less than 2 minutes, do it right now. I do try to stick to this. Especially now with a baby (turning into a toddler) tugging at my legs. Try to manage your time the best you can. Unplug for a bit. Put your phone in a different room. Have a dedicated workspace. Avoid the temptations around you. Schedule time to reduce stress. Good luck. What are some things you do to be productive? 

Defining EdTech

Well, it has been a few years since I have been immersed in the world of academia. There is no question that I am excited for the challenge of graduate studies and for the opportunity to continue learning in my profession, but I am feeling a bit nervous about the journey ahead.

This, EC&I833, being my first class, and this blog, has me feeling a bit like I need to air out some dirty laundry… I am what some might call a social media virgin. Yes, you read that right. I am not on social media. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Twitter… until this week. Well, I do have a Pinterest account under the guise of an old punk rock song title, but other than that I have not had any social media accounts where I share information. I am simply a consumer of digital information. As mentioned, I have stepped out of my comfort zone this week and joined Twitter so I can connect with my fellow educators and my peers. I have yet to share anything, but I am feeling inspired after seeing my classmates and instructors feeds. I am certain joining Twitter will reward me in my learning.

I suppose there are several reasons for my non-existent web presence, but the main one is that I have always viewed Facebook, and other social media, as a time and energy waster. When Facebook gained popularity and smart phones began to occupy pockets, I remember seeing colleagues and fellow students spend endless minutes (probably hours at home) scrolling through posts about what others were doing and what they were eating. I was curious, but I was never hooked. And hence, I never joined. As a result of not being on social media, I do have to make more of an effort to connect with my close friends and family through text messaging. Sadly, some of my relationships have suffered, but most of my family and friends are understanding. In the Postman reading this week, he shared in his third idea that:

every technology has a philosophy which is given expression in how the
technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards
.”

As I watched the rise of Facebook over a decade ago, I saw how this new platform led those around me to value fun, beauty, money and accomplishments. This attitude initially irritated me, so I ignored Facebook and other connective apps and never looked back. Further, this is evident again in the “medium is the message” phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan. Most of us are aware that social media can consume us with all it offers. As an educator, I think about my decision to not be on social media often. What message am I sending? What do others think when they see that I am not connected?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The readings and videos on the history of technology this week have had me thinking back to my own elementary days and the devices we used. My school piloted the first edition of the iMac. Our computer lab was full of those rather large, translucent and colourful computers. During our computer lab period, we practiced typing with cardboard covers over the keyboard so we would learn to type “properly.” I admit, my typing is still a bit of a chicken peck – my fingers never fully return to “homerow,” but I am able to type efficiently.

As I reflect on my own education and the ways I integrate technology into my classroom, I would define educational technology simply as technology that can be used to facilitate teaching and learning in a variety of settings. I must mention that there are so many facets to educational technology that could be mentioned here, like specific apps, devices, and programs, but it is not necessary to list them. In my classroom, technology is integrated in all teaching and learning. Devices and programs are used daily to engage students in learning. Unlike my elementary days, much of the technology is actually in the classroom. There is no computer lab that students walk to, and no wheeled TV cart that excites learners as it gets wheeled in to the classroom, but students still use computers and still watch videos. In Bates’ “Teaching in a Digital Age” text, Chapter 6, he talks of the rapid pace of technology advancement. I believe this to be very true, however, he also tells that “new technology rarely completely replaces an older technology.” The former usually remains and operates in a new way. So in comparing my use of technology as an elementary learner to my students use of technology in my classroom, the technology being used is the same, albeit in an upgraded format. I do recognize that the use and availability of technology is different in schools all over the world, even here in our province.

Learning Theories and My Teaching

Lastly, while learning and reflecting on epistemology this week – how we know what we know – and the learning theories, I thought often of my 13 month old son. Every day for him is filled with learning and exploration. It is quite astounding to watch him grow and develop as his understanding of the world is being formed. I feel this same joy and amazement when I see growth and learning in my students. When I think about my classroom teaching there are several learning theories that I connect with, use and have used throughout my short teaching career.

  • Behaviorism – Learning is through positive and negative reinforcements and punishments.
  • Cognitivism – Students learn through receiving information, processing it and storing it.
  • Constructivism – Students learn through constructing their own knowledge using past experiences and new understandings.
  • Connectivism – Students learn through connecting various “nodes” of knowledge from various knowledge networks. This theory involves the use of technology.

I have used behaviorist methods to manage classroom behavior, and have used direct lecture instruction at times in my teaching (cognitivism). I do tend to lean towards a constructivist approach to learning. I believe students learn through creating knowledge through their experiences, so providing students with opportunities to “experience and learning” whether it is inside the classroom, or outside of the classroom is fundamental. I facilitate learning using inquiry methods through passion projects, collaboration, and having students connect using technology (connectivism). As I look to the future, I hope to utilize technology more effectively in my classroom to allow students opportunities to connect with others, and connect their knowledge.