Last week I made my vlogging debut with the beginning of my jazz piano journey. After two weeks of tracking my progress through video, I have learned a few things. First, I need to adjust how and what I record to make the vlog more interesting. In particular, I want to make sure I include some of the “work-in-progress” videos instead of focusing on getting a perfect “take”. I really love what my classmate Amanda is doing to make her vlogs enjoyable to watch. Second, I purchased a phone tripod to make the filming a little more professional and maybe eliminate bad angles. Luckily a few of my classmates had a similar idea, so I found some good tripod recommendations on Twitter.
Here is my week 2 recap:
What I worked on:
Practiced the 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) progression in all 12 major keys (and added in a drum backing track to make it interesting).
Reviewed the C Blues scale (in the RH) and tried playing it with a Blues shuffle pattern in the LH.
Still no sheet music! Focused on playing by ear.
Being able to play the C Blues scale easily from muscle memory. I must have learned the scale at some point over the years and I remembered exactly what to do.
Squeezed in lots of short practice sessions (5 minutes or so), which is about all I can manage with an almost one-year-old roaming around.
I had a lot of difficulty with the Blues shuffle pattern in the LH. I need to spend some slow practice time on this skill.
Difficulty choosing which resource to use next. There are so many on YouTube, so it’s a challenge sorting through the videos. My classmate Daina is exploring Udemy.com, so I might look into that as an option.
Week 2 is complete! This week I plan to continue working on the 2-5-1 progression (and see if there are any other useful videos for practice), playing the C Blues scale in the RH and Blues shuffle pattern in the LH and maybe start looking at jazz lead (fake) sheets.
Week 1 of my learning project journey is in the books! My biggest takeaway from the week is that this is going to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated. Playing jazz compared to classical music requires a shift in how you think and process music. Instead of relying on sheet music, I am focusing on using my ears to listen to the chords and my brain to figure out what I am playing. From a theoretical standpoint, I find jazz music fascinating as you experiment with different chords and voicings. But I also find it frustrating because I am so used to playing exactly what is written on a sheet of music. In some ways, I compare it to learning a new language, where you are translating the words in your head before speaking. This week I am “translating” the chords and creating a visual image in my mind before I play the notes on the piano. Sometimes I rely on the feel of the keys and my hand position, but then my technical brain takes over as I want to know exactly what I am playing. I anticipate this will be a continued struggle as I progress through my journey.
After my initial blog post about the learning project, I received some great feedback about where to look for resources online. Similar to my classmate Brooke, I put a call-out on social media asking for advice of where to start. I received lots of useful information and of course some funny but unhelpful advice.
To document my learning journey, I pondered with the idea of vlogging like my classmate Amanda. Like Amanda, I am completely new to vlogging, but we had a great discussion in class on Tuesday night about ways to document our journey in interesting ways. Here is my first attempt!
What I worked on:
Demonstrated what I already know (basic form of the 12 bar blues)
Practiced play 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) chord progressions using 3rds and 7ths voicings
I figured out the progression fairly quickly and immediately fell in love with the “jazzy” sound
I didn’t resort to using sheet music! This is a big one for me. I practiced strictly by ear.
A realization that playing jazz is a lot more difficult and mentally involved than I thought
Aimee Nolte’s YouTube channel is supposed to be great according to recommendations from my jazz friends. My only complaint is there is a lot of talking before you get to the main practice.
That’s a wrap on week 1! For the next week I will continue my 2-5-1 practice in all keys and maybe starting working on a more sophisticated 12 Bar Blues.
In my relatively short teaching career (six years and counting), I have noticed significant changes in access to technology in the classroom. For the most part, the access has improved with more devices allocated to each school as well as better programs and apps to use with students. For example, during my internship, I still used an overhead projector and the occasional YouTube video (if I was able to book the data projector to use in class), to my current set up with Epson Interactive Projectors and integrated audio and visual technology in each classroom.
An even better example of improved technology for music teachers is a program called “MusicPlay”. It is a Kindergarten to Grade 6 music program with hard copy binders and CDs, available in almost every Regina Public school. Recently, the company released “MusicPlayOnline“, which allows access to the entire library of music and activities, as well as interactive games and exercises. This program is an awesome example of innovation in the music classroom and has changed how I teach students. It is also extremely helpful to deliver engaging lessons when overcrowding means no separate music classrooms and teaching from a cart or teaching in multiple schools.
Knowledge is growing (currently doubling every 1-2 years)
Access is improving (smartphones and Internet- anywhere, anytime)
So the question we must ask ourselves as educators is, what do we teach? If the information we have to offer now will become obsolete in a few years, why even bother? Instead, Arora gave a great suggestion of what to teach:
“We teach creativity”
He explains that teaching creativity will helps students understand how to access, assess and apply knowledge. If we give students the information, they will figure out how to use it. With these ideas in mind, we can begin to understand the importance of student centered, differentiated and inquiry-based learning.
I think it is also fair to highlight the need for arts education is schools. We need to figure out ways to foster and build creativity which can be achieved through thoughtful arts integration in schools. I also think collaborative projects and cross-curricular learning give students different ways to apply knowledge rather than only focusing on learning specific facts. One of my dream teaching jobs would be to teach in a school that uses arts integration among all subjects. Not only has this been studied to improve behaviour issues in school, but I think it teaches students to learn in ways that will be useful in the next generation. The video below gives an example of how arts integration allows for deeper learning in schools. I was exposed to this video in my first year of education studies at the University of Regina, and I thought it was revolutionary at the time. Seven years later, I think more and more teachers are using the arts to change the way students access information.
Returning the focus to social media and our course content, I think there are a few different steps educators can take to bring social networks into the classroom.
Seek out approved networks by school division
Review privacy guidelines and policies of these networks
Educate students on safety and privacy online
Use the networks as a new approach to learning
ReginaPublic Schools strives to provide student and teacher access to quality teaching and learning tools that meet privacy and licensing requirements. Baseline apps, services, and software listed below are provided or supported by the division.
Staff interested in accessing apps, services, and software not listed as baseline, can send their request to email@example.com
As a good practice, I think it is still important to review privacy guidelines, terms of agreement and policies of any network you are using with students. You may also be interested in learning about apps or networks you use at home, maybe with your own children. StaySafeOnline has many resources, including a guide to student data privacy online. I liked how the article gave examples of different questions to ask regarding privacy:
Examples of questions you can use to get both the conversations going include: Does the app or software require account registration? If yes, is any personal information required? What permissions does the app need to function? Does it need access to one’s email, contacts or location details? Do the app developers share personal details with other parties? If so, to what extent?
I think it is probably a good idea to always be a little skeptical before you scroll quickly through service terms and click “I agree”. This needs to be part of our teaching to students so we can be aware of how our data is shared online.
One of the NCTE literacies states that as active and successful participants in the 21st century, you must be able to “develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology”. This goes along with my third idea that we should teach our students to understand privacy and safety online as part of using these tools. Common Sense Education is an excellent resource with lesson plans, videos and infographics about how to protect students’ data and privacy online. I think that privacy and safety should always been intertwined and constantly revisited in any conversation involving technology. Safe access will continue to evolve as new networks and apps are created, so it is imperative to not become complacent with our understanding of privacy online.
Finally social networking is changing how we approach teaching and learning knowledge. In the Brown and Adler article, “Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail; and Learning 2.0”, they explain that with the development of “Web 2.0”, our attention has shifted from access to information to access to other people. This new “participatory medium” is ideal for many different kinds of learning. With Web 2.0 comes Learning 2.0 – “passion-based learning, motivated by the student either wanting to become a member of a particular community of practice or just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something”. Instead of the traditional “supply-push” mode of learning to build up an inventory of knowledge, Brown and Adler explain that there is a “demand-pull” approach to learning. This “demand-pull” is based on students having access to rich learning communities that emphasizes participation.
The article explains the old Cartesian idea of “I think, therefore I am” with the new social view of learning as “we participate, therefore we are”. This social view is a reflection of shifting teaching practices in a rapidly changing world. As educators, it is our responsibility to be aware of these changes and find ways to balance how we share knowledge while being mindful of student safety and privacy.
I think it is important that we continue to teach creative ways of learning and how to apply knowledge. What are some ways you can include this in your classroom today? For me, it’s through arts integration and using social learning apps (from my approved division list, of course). I am also very intrigued about incorporating Learning 2.0 ideas, like passion-based learning with my students. Finally, I want to make a personal commitment to review the privacy policies of all the social networking apps that I use so I have a better understanding of sharing data online and what it actually means. What changes will you make to how you share student data online?
I am very excited at the prospect of learning something new, just for me. I have always had lots of interests that I wish could become hobbies, but it seems like it is never the right “time”. Things like knitting, baking (fancy French macarons), cake decorating, photography, musical instruments, languages, calligraphy…they are all on my wish list of things to learn at a higher level. I have dabbled in these interests, but never committed my ten thousand hours to master these “hobbies”.
Enter Option B- The Learning Project: The targeted learning outcome should be something that is complex to learn, worth learning, and of great interest to you.
As I reflect on my nearly 25 years of classical music training, something I have always appreciated is the genre of jazz. I love listening to jazz (especially live) and the delicate balance between the musicians as they weave in and out of intricate chord changes, rhythms and improvisation. In high school, I played piano in the jazz band and then I sang in the vocal jazz choir in university. Both experiences gave me the opportunity to learn some of the basics of jazz (form, like the 12-bar blues) and improvisation (although mostly for the voice – called “scatting“). BUT, the biggest problem I ran into as a classically trained musician was my inability to go “off-book”. I could fake jazz playing if I had sheet music and spent hours practicing exactly what was on the page. Something I have always wanted to do was to be one of those people that could sit down at the piano and “jam” – play freely and effortlessly if given a few chords or even a key of music.
You might be thinking that this is cheating, since I am already a very capable piano player. And I have a music degree, so lots of theoretical background and knowledge that will make learning jazz easy. But it is hard. This video sums it up perfectly:
In case you don’t want to watch the 9 minute video, here are the reasons given:
Different approach – classical is written out vs jazz is a lot improvising
Classical musicians aren’t taught how to improvise
Different technique – classical (scales, arpeggios) vs jazz (walking bass lines, chords)
Different chord progressions
Different chords (jazz has a lot more clusters compared to classical)
“Colour” chords – in jazz you add notes to chords to make it sound different
Confusing chord symbols in jazz
Jazz requires more listening – to play unique styles (classical music is written out – play exactly what is written down to notes and rhythms)
Emotion vs precision – classical musical is all about interpreting what is on the page (based on an understanding of the time period, composer, etc). Jazz involves a lot of emotion and “feel”.
While this is not an exhaustive list, I feel like it is a pretty good start to show why it is SO. HARD. to play jazz music for strictly classically trained musicians. I sort of equate it to learning a language. When young children start learning a language and are immersed in it, they pick up the nuances and details of the language more easily. I wonder if I had been exposed to jazz from the beginning and learned how to play it, I would be in a different place today. Or if I had ever taken lessons specifically for jazz. I find it so difficult to “get off the page” and always prefer to have sheet music.
With that long preamble, I am excited to use my understanding and interest in analyzing music and theory to develop my skills as a jazz musician. I started brainstorming a list of things I would like to be able to do at the end of this exploration. This includes (but will continue to evolve):
Play from a “Lead Sheet” (a standard requirement for all jazz musicians)
Improvise using different scales, modes and techniques
Play more by ear than reading sheet music
Play a few jazz standards and maybe learn how to “jazz” up a piece like Happy Birthday or Christmas songs
I have a few ideas about how to document the process (video and audio clips) and where to look for “how-to” videos (YouTube: “How to play jazz piano” brings up a lot of options). Does anyone have suggestions of other online resources to use to work on this project? I am considering doing a call-out on Facebook for all my jazz musicians friends and their recommendations. Maybe a Skype lesson could take place?
Looking forward to reading about other project ideas from my classmates!
I would consider myself an ‘early-adopter’ of technology, especially with the Internet and social media. As a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996), I grew up in a time when using the Internet was a new way of life as I learned alongside new developments. E-mailing, peer-to-peer music sharing websites (like Napster and Limewire) and instant messaging (MSN Messenger) were all part of my elementary school years. I remember coming home from school, connecting to the dial-up internet (who can forget that connection sound?) and beginning a series of online chats with my friends over MSN. This was the beginning of my social media ritual that would continue and evolve over the next 20 years.
Since I was figuring out these sites at the same time (or before) my parents, they didn’t have a lot of control or understanding of what I was doing on the Internet. An example: Yahoo Chat Rooms. One of my best friends growing up has a brother (who now makes his living creating video games like this one) who was very computer savvy. He helped us create Yahoo accounts so we could join large Yahoo chat rooms with strangers from all over the world. We even figured out how to participate in audio chat, usually with adults. Keep in mind we were young – in grades 4 and 5. All of this took place with our parents oblivious to what we were doing and before conversations about cyber safety existed. Did we tell them where we lived? Did we give out other identifying info? I don’t remember and I shudder to think of the potential dangers we could have encountered. Long story short, if there was something new on the Internet, we tried it.
Fast forward through high school (Hi5, MySpace and eventually Facebook) and I began to see the negative or bullying effects of social media. Does anyone remember the “Top Friends” feature on MySpace?
Then you add in the “relationship status” feature on Facebook…sigh. It wasn’t all terrible though, as it was a really cool way to connect with people from around the world. In grade 12 I went on a school trip to Europe, and our group joined with another group from a small school in southern California. A decade later, I am still connected with some people from this trip and we keep in touch sharing photos of our growing families and professional endeavours. Heading to university, I was able to join ‘Class of 2011’ groups on Facebook and ‘meet’ other students before starting classes. This was extremely helpful to discuss everything from textbooks to the first social gatherings of the semester.
I have spent the last decade exploring successful and failed social media including Google +, YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Weebly/Blogger/Wordpress, Tumblr and Snapchat. Some have held my interest longer than others as I feel they add value to my life. Other apps are cool ideas, and should be really successful, but they don’t seem to have the same staying power as more popular apps (like TikTok or Vine [in it’s prime]). For example, I used the app “Mazu” with my younger nieces, and I thought it was a really positive experience. It was created to help teach digital citizenship and the positive power of social media. But then they just stopped using it one day. (Possibly a reflection on the short attention spans of this new generation?)
I am now at the point with social media that I feel “too old” to learn about some new networks, like TikTok. All I know about TikTok is my nieces and nephews had it for about 5 minutes and became WAY too obsessed that my sister (their mother) made them delete the app. As an arts education teacher, I feel like TikTok could be useful for ‘research’ and to reach my students, because we could learn some of the dance crazes like “The Git Up” or “Hey Julie”, but that’s why I use YouTube.
Even dating apps like Tinder and Bumble came after I met my husband, so although I understand the ‘swipe right/left’, it is something I will never experience in my social media journey.
When I consider how social media has affected my personal and professional life, I have a lot of positives but a growing list of negatives. Here is an example:
Snapchat: The only way that I communicate with my 16-year old niece. We have a great relationship and tell each other everything, but if it’s not face-to-face, it’s through Snapchat. According to my niece, it is the only way she communicates with her friends (not through texting or other messaging). Why? Because the chats are not saved unless you want to save them and also through snapstreaks. The stress of snapstreaks is something I know all too well, as I send and receive a picture of the wall every day to my niece to maintain our streak. We have been doing this for 910 days. NINE-HUNDRED AND TEN DAYS. I even have a reminder in my phone – “Snap!!!!! Streak!!!!”. What is the point of this?! It actually causes stress in my life because I am afraid of losing the streak and how it would affect our relationship. Before I gave birth to my baby, I gave my niece my Snapchat login info so she could maintain the streak when I went into labour (turns out my baby came quick and we didn’t have to worry about losing the streak). Is this the world we live in now? I was about to give birth, but one of my concerns was maintaining the streak as I felt like it is part of my relationship with my niece. That being said, I still do it every single day with no end in sight. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here).
On a positive note, social media allows me to share milestones, travel and important events with friends and family. I can stay connected with people wherever they are in the world and maintain important relationships. In my professional life, I used Twitter, a personal website and LinkedIn to create a following that led to a full teaching studio of piano students within a few weeks. These positive networking experiences helped me grow and maintain my business. I also enjoy using Twitter to connect with other educators and sharing what we are doing in the classroom. LinkedIn has allowed me to interact with people in other industries that share common activities (like same universities and volunteer commitments).
But with these positives, there are also negatives like #fomo and feeling left out when not included in social activities. I think this is something that is an even bigger issue with our students and something I look forward to exploring further in this course. Also, as a new mom, I have spent A LOT of time on my phone perusing Facebook and Instagram while holding a sleeping baby. It is hard not to compare your baby to other babies and get wrapped up in the “Instagram vs. Reality” world. And then there are sponsored posts/ads (are they listening to our conversations??) that make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Finally, as a teacher, I find that I get a lot of student follow/friend requests that I must decline. This is not necessarily a negative, but it does require having a conversation about privacy with my students.
In a recent conversation with my sister (mother of 4 of my nieces and nephews), I said “I hate the internet! I hate social media!”. I could see how it was affecting my sister and her kids and the daily struggles she is having with them and access to social media. She wondered if she should unplug the wi-fi? Move to a deserted island? How can we turn this around? What has to change to make it a positive part of our daily lives? What can teachers do to help our students navigate the constantly changing world of social media?
On that note, I have to go take a blurry picture of my face or the wall and write the letter ‘S’ to maintain a daily ritual.
The last week of EC&I 830 has arrived and I am happy with my growth as a learner and educator. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that I have been implementing a lot of the educational technology ideas mentioned throughout the course. But there are many practices I have not been implementing, like seeking student consent and permission to post online and only relying on a parent/guardian signed media release.
After reflecting on my current use of technology in education, I made the realization that sometimes I resort to substitution or replacement models. It’s not always intentional, but could be because it is easy and what has always been done. An example are the very fancy projectors that were installed in my school this year. While we had training on the various capabilities and functions (touch screen, whiteboard, saving images, etc. – similar to a SMART Board), I often found that function would not work when I needed it, so I stuck with using the tool simply as a data projector. There is nothing worse than trying to get technology to work in a room full of students, breaking the engagement and losing focus. But, one day in the fall I decide to do a little research (thanks, Google and YouTube!) and really figure out how to use the projector, including an app that could be downloaded on my phone to act as a document camera or tool to share images directly to the board. Now with my knowledge of the TPACK and SAMR models, I am excited to use this example of technology in more innovative and exciting ways. It is as simple as taking the time to learn about the tool myself before implementing with my students.
As I reflect on the course, “Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology”, it has been apparent to me that the issues in educational technology continue to change very quickly. With the rise of new apps, devices and technology access for young people, our roles as educators are constantly evolving. Some common themes that have been woven throughout the class discussions and debates for me:
-the importance of teaching digital citizenship
-thinking of technology as a tool
-teacher roles are shifting to the role of a facilitator
-we must teach critical thinking skills and technology can be used to assist this teaching
-technology can enhance student learning by promoting engagement and help with motivation
-educating students and families about how to create a positive digital footprint and identity online with appropriate safety and privacy measures.
I have learned a lot throughout this course, but I most excited to take away fresh and innovative technology ideas to incorporate in my teaching. It is important to continue to focus on safety and building a positive presence online. Since students have easy access to technology all the time, our role as educators is to teach students and families proper digital citizenship and how to build positive digital identities.
For my summary of learning, I decided that the best way to share my learning as an Arts Education teacher is through song. At the beginning of the course, I tried to use images “fairly” in videos and blog posts, but I simply relied on the fact that it was for “educational purposes” to justify my choices. Our class discussion in the Google Plus community made me realize that I maybe don’t quite understand all the ins and outs of fair use. One of my classmates, Brooke referred to Common Sense Media in her blog post, and after a bit of Twitter following and searching on YouTube, I found this great video from Common Sense Education:
I wanted my final project to fall into fair use guidelines, so I composed my own song (lyrics and music) and used my nieces and nephews to create a music video to go along with the song. This allowed me to talk about consent and permission with their parents and the kids – explaining how the videos would be used. They were pretty excited about the idea, and I used it as an opportunity to practice how to explain building positive digital footprints for Kindergarten to Grade 9 students. Thank you to Sarah (15), James (12), Claire (7), Ella (6) and Patrick (6) for helping me create the video!
This week in EC&I 830, two teams argued the statement:
Technology is a force for equity in society
The general consensus during our class discussion was that Team Disagree had a tough side to argue as nearly two thirds of the class sided with Team Agree. That being said, Team Disagree raised some very valid and important points in their opening and closing statements and rebuttal.
The image below is the first thing I thought about when I read the debate statement. Equal distribution and use of technology will not work in our society – it can’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, equitable distribution and access to technology is required to have positive and successful integration of technology. Therefore I completely agree with the debate statement this week, provided there is equal opportunities for all.
Although my ‘agree’ opinion did not change before or after the debate, my eyes were opened to some of the negative aspects of technology and equity in society. One of the points Team Disagree focused part of their opening statement on is the issue of gender inequality in the technology world. In one of the suggested articles, technology is considered another avenue for men to oppress women. In fact, many women have come together to reveal the sexist culture in Silicon Valley tech and venture capital firms.
The article also expresses the idea that, “we have to challenge the presumption that it (the workplace) is neutral and allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected”. I have never really considered the idea that technology can be biased against women, but it does make sense. I know I don’t question the fact that certain tools like Siri are set to a woman’s voice. Although you can change this in the settings, it is interesting that the default is often a female voice. As the article describes, we need to have a neutral technological system for gender and social equality.
The term “digital colonialism” showcases one way that our society is not making technology equitable across different socio-economic groups. Instead of giving these groups “internet” (like Free Basics) that pushes certain messages or propaganda, Biddle explains that we need to fix, “the barriers to internet access (which) include signal availability, device ownership, education, digital literacy and electricity”.
Finally, bringing the technology access closer to home, a Huffington Post article explores access to internet in Canada. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s 2014 Factbook (CIRA) states that while 95 percent of Canadians in the highest income bracket are connected to the internet only 62 percent in the lowest income bracket have internet access. Some communities in Canada (like Nunavut) only have 27 percent of communities with internet access. Unfortunately, the CIRA explains that Canada has no national strategy to improve access, speed and prices.
Team Disagree made some very good points in their rebuttal that for technology to be equitable in society, internet should not be a luxury. It needs to be affordable and accessible to everyone and we need to redesign systems that discriminate against social status, gender and race. All this being said, technology is here to stay, so we need to find a way to make it equal and fair for everyone. This issues raised in Team Disagree’s argument are a great starting point for how we can improve technology to be an even better force for equity in our society.
Team Agree opened their argument by suggesting that technology has achieved a lot in our society, like removing barriers (ex. helping people read) and connecting the world (ex. real time video chat). Most importantly, they focused on the idea that technology is not the problem and neither is the “digital divide”.
In my own experiences and those expressed by my classmates during our class discussion, we have seen how technology can help remove learning barriers for students in schools. A big discussion took place on how one school division (my division) redistributed technology across all schools for equitable use among students. During my short career so far, I have only taught in community and lower socio-economic background schools. The equitable distribution plan has been crucial in my teaching and use of technology, because many of my students do not have access to reliable internet and technology at home. It has also affected how I prepare lessons and assignments, as I have to assume that students will be able to complete assignments with technology at school, but not necessarily at home.
Some students have an assigned laptop (assistive technology) that follows them throughout their school career. As a teacher, I know that I can design instruction that will allow these students to have the most success because they are guaranteed to use the assigned technology to help with their learning experience. An example is the ‘Read&Write for Google Chrome‘ extension that is used throughout my division. This tool has a variety of options including reading text to the student, dictation and simplifying text which has been extremely valuable with students who have reading difficulties. A couple of years ago I taught in a school with a high EAL population, and ‘Read&Write’ helped my students (with a variety of English speaking and reading levels) to achieve their learning goals.
Another reason I agreed with the argument is the availability and affordability of online education. A few great examples provided by Team Agree include Open Education Courses (OEC), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Open Education Resources (OER) and Virtual Classrooms. The suggested article explores that a process that is helping share knowledge is, “the use of ‘open education resources’ (OER) – freely available, high-quality materials that can be downloaded, edited and shared to support teaching and learning.” Team Agree explains that open education is based on fairness (among gender, socio-economic status and ethnic origin) and inclusion (a basic minimum standard of education should be available to everyone).
During my B.E.A.D. program (Bachelor of Education After Degree) at the University of Regina, I was able to complete my program in a shorter time period and maintain working nearly full time by taking courses through Athabasca University. This was my first experience with online education, and I do admit that it was a challenge at first. I found that by not having classmate interaction and only assignments to complete that I needed a lot of self-discipline to stay on track. I eventually figured out the time management piece and overall felt that the experience was positive.
My first “blended learning” course was for Standard First Aid. The course required completion of online modules and quizzes prior to attending a one-day in class session. This is a great model as it allows for a deeper understanding of the information and can then be applied in person during the one-day course. I enjoyed this experience as it did not take up my entire weekend and I could work on the modules at my own pace and schedule. My husband is currently enrolled in professional development learning through his work. The course started with a one-week intensive in person to dive into the course material with the instructors and other classmates. He then has one year to complete a variety of modules and assignments through an online portal. There is continuous contact with course instructors and motivation to complete the coursework with an online course community.
And of course, EC&I 830 is my first “blended learning” web based academic course. I think one of the benefits of this being an educational technology course is that there is lots of engagement online through blog comments, Google Plus community, Twitter and of course, our weekly Zoom sessions. This keeps the motivation for learning and completing course work in a timely fashion, something I struggled with in my Athabasca courses.
This brings me to the point raised by Team Agree that the concept of open education has revolutionized the learning classroom and allowed for digital inclusion. Instead of referring to a digital divide, the term inclusion was used to reframe the divided in a more positive way. This can be achieved with equal and equitable access, affordability and a mindset to embrace the digital world.
A Forbes article explains that many advocates believe that digital technology has the potential to expand access to education to underserved children around the world. In 2015, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called technology the new platform for learningat the annual South by Southwest conference and said, “technological competency is a requirement for entry into the global economy”. For this to happen, we need to increase equity for children and communities that are historically underserved, and one way is through digital technology. This solution almost seems too easy – to help poverty stricken communities have better education, all we need to do is supply the students with technology! An example is the “digital school in a box” provided by the Vodafone Foundation, which supplies a laptop and 25 tablets pre-loaded with educational software to a refugee settlement in Kenya. I think this is an awesome initiative and it is great to see organizations looking for ways to support education around the world. But in reality, it is a band-aid fix – as it is only a temporary solution to a problem. What happens when the technology is out of date? What about all the other underserved areas in that community? Or the underserved areas in our own country?
The increase of technology and the digital world has give many different groups around the world a chance for better education. I completely agree that technology is a force for equity in society, but the complicated part is how technology is distributed and used. I think this is still a learning process and we will continue to see many trial initiatives as possible solutions to the complicated issues of technology access. By being aware of the issues raised by Team Disagree (like inequality among different gender, race and socio-economic groups), we can continue to improve distribution, access and affordability of technology to remove the digital divide. Technology is here to stay and grow, so it is society’s responsibility to search for solutions that close the accessibility gap. Both teams presented great arguments this week which served as a reminder that issues that existed before technology will continue to take place with technology use. As educators, we must continue to focus on teaching digital citizenship to develop positive online identities. As members of society, we need to rally for equal and equitable technology access in our communities.
This week in EC&I 830, the most anticipated debate (in my opinion) took place. The statement:
Social media is ruining childhood
A bold statement, but one I could easily agree with at first. All I was thinking about was the hours that teens and pre-teens spend on their phones and devices. The hours that could be spent reading a book, playing outside or having a real life face-to-face conversation. And then I thought about my role as a teacher and sometimes dealing with the negativity of social media use among students – exclusion, gossiping and hurt feelings.
How often do you sit back and think, “I’m glad social media wasn’t around when I was a kid!”
Luckily we relied on dial-up Internet at the family desktop computer in the kitchen, so the ability to spend hours online was impossible, therefore somewhat limiting the damage that could be done.Nowadays, pre-teens and teens (and even younger) have their own smartphones which allows for access to the Internet all the time. This can be managed by putting certain restrictions in place, like no phones after a certain time before bed, or no technology at school. At my school, all the senior students hand in their phones at the beginning of the day, no questions asked. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone complain, instead it is just an expectation that has been established from the beginning and students are aware of the consequences if they use their devices during school time. There are exceptions, like using the device to listen to music during a work period, but this does not happen often.
One of the suggested articleslooks at the ways pediatricians can help parents monitor their children for potential problems with social media and cyberbullying. The suggestions by pediatricians are for parents, but are also applicable for teachers. These include:
-talking to your children about social media use
-participating in social media (maybe the parent has an Instagram account and follows their child)
-regular checks of privacy settings and online profiles
-supervising online activities in a more collaborative and communicative way instead of using third-party monitoring apps or programs
It is also important for parents and teachers to be aware of what it might look like if a child or student is being cyberbullied. Here is a very informative infographic from Rawhide.org.
Team Agreepresented a very strong argument that the risks of social media far outweigh the benefits, like instead of strengthening relationships, they might hide behind their phones. Kids are missing out on practicing real life communication skills and often avoid meaningful face to face interactions. There is also the added problem that by constantly being connected to social media, students are suffering from sleep deprivation and may even be addicted to their phones. While I do agree that some teens in today’s world need their phones to entire them, I think we need to give young people more credit for what they are capable of doing with technology and social media.
By the end of the debate, Team Disagree convinced me that social media is not ruining childhood, but rather opening the door to create meaningful conversations through positive experiences.
Yes, social media has negatives, like inappropriate uses (sexting), cyberbullying and the dread FOMO (fear of missing out). But CommonSenseMedia.org suggests that adults can help kids “nurture the positive aspects by accepting how important social media is for kids and helping them find ways for it to add real value to their lives”. For example, some benefits of social media listed in the article include:
-giving teens a voice on social issues
-helping teens make friends and keep them
-offering a sense of belong
-provide genuine support, and
-give kids an opportunity to express themselves with a wider audience
My niece Sarah opened my eyes to a unique experience she has cultivated with social media. A few years ago, she went to a Taylor Swift that had a new Canadian artist as the opener: Shawn Mendes. At the time, she followed a few different “fan accounts” on Instagram, and decided to create her own account to share her love of Taylor Swift and Shawn Mendes – @sparksflymendes
Fast forward a few years later, and Sarah has over 19k followers who follow the account simply because my she posts a different picture of Shawn Mendes or Taylor Swift each day. She connects with her followers with open and honest captions, usually expressing something about her life (“MORE SNOW? Why?!?!?!” or “I have math test today, wish me luck”). The captions usually have nothing to do with the photo, but she receives lots of comments and words of encouragement from her followers.
The whole thing seemed kind of weird at first. Her parents were concerned about posting anything that could identify her location, so they both follow the account. In fact anyone in my family that uses Instagram follows her account, just as a way to see what is going on and engage with the community she has created. We aren’t monitoring it in a negative way, rather just staying part of the conversation with the added bonus of knowing what she is posting online.
Sarah has made some real friends through this account – fellow #MendesArmy supporters. She even met one of the girls at the last concert she attended. Something that her mom (my sister) felt a little unsure about. But it ended up being a great experience with both girls and their moms going to dinner before the concert and strengthening a relationship that will continue for years to come.
This experience is lucky, unique and has a positive outcome. I think it happened because my niece used social media in a positive way and her parents have had an active role in supporting and teaching her responsible digital citizenship.
From the experience of my niece, it is easy to understand that social media can help teens cope with anxiety, depression and self harm. The suggested article from MediaSmarts.ca lists examples of social media sites that provide supportive communities that offer healing, strength, friendship and love. The site Tumblrhas built in safety messages if certain trigger keywords are searched (like #suicide, #cutting) and then the user has the option to be redirected to a specific organization that can be helpful in their situations.
One of the most exciting ways that young people are using social media is by focusing their passions and talent into social advocacy. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)discusses a new age of digital citizenship – “learners who use their technology-driven powers conscientiously – and with empathy – to help make the world a better place.
Educators have an opportunity to help students turn fear and frustration into activism by having difficult conversations. “Fostering these types of discussions requires dynamic and careful teaching skills, says educator and advocate Katie Schellenberg. By establishing a normative surrounding argument, laying ground rules about when and how to present counterarguments, and enforcing “the necessity of evidence and rationality with a side of humor and flexibility,” teachers can impart valuable lessons about how to be a respectful advocate.”A great example of translating feelings into action took place at my school earlier this month. With my middle years classes, we researched different social issues and created art pieces to raise awareness about their chosen cause. I spoke about the use of Twitter to connect with other schools in the division who were also participating in the project in my blog post class week. Students presented their art and research in a gallery opening, #YQRActivistArt and guests were blown away by the passion and creativity of the artists and messages they had to share. Our hope is grow the project next year through social media to collaborate with students in different communities outside of Regina.
Students have the capability to use social media in positive ways, especially when they incorporate the “Digital Citizen Standard”, one component of the ISTE Standards for Students. One of the suggested articles from Team Disagree explains that the Digital Citizen standard “expects students to do more than merely know the dangers and risks of technology tools; students are called on to understand the opportunities the digital world presents and to use these tools to do good in the world. It appears that many students have already accepted that challenge.”
I think Team Disagree made some good points that social media has the ability to strengthen relationships among youth and offer a sense of belonging by providing genuine support. More importantly, Team Disagree stated that social media part of modern society and that we need to teach the elements of responsible digital citizenship. If proper use is explained at an early age, the possibilities for positive experiences are endless.
A winning essay submitted by 17-year old Elena Quartararo to the New York Times urges adults to give teens a chance. While she understands the drawbacks to social media, “this connection to a diverse plethora of information has given us the opportunity to reach our own conclusions about the world…
…and it has created a socially and politically aware, opinionated and unafraid youth, who are wholly prepared to change the world.”
The future is bright for our young leaders as long as we build in the supports to teach responsible digital citizenship and positive social media use.
This week during EC&I 830, two teams debated the statement
Openness and sharing in our schools is unfair to our kids
Initially, I fully disagreed with the statement because I think that it is openness and sharing that makes this era of education exciting and unique. Through Twitter, blogs and Youtube, I have been able to connect with parents and students and share what goes on in the classroom. As expressed by Team Disagree, sharing promotes connectivity and is the reality of today’s childhood experience. We have all this cool technology nowadays, so why wouldn’t we use it?
This is the point when I begin to realize that maybe technology and sharing in the classroom is not always so great. Team Agree explained in their opening statement that sharing in schools is not always negative. But then they asked the question, “Are we being ethically fair and responsible with the amount of sharing?”
This question gives educators a chance to reflect on how we ask for parent/guardian permission to post photos of their children on the Internet. One of the suggested articles states,
“The challenge for schools is to balance their (and parents’) desire to publicize the great things that are happening in their organizations with their responsibilities to protect children and satisfy parental concerts about student privacy and safety”.
At my school (and schools in my division), a ‘media release’ form goes home at the beginning of the year that asks parents/guardians for permission to distribute photos, video, use a variety of social media platforms, etc. My school has created a culture of sharing and celebrating student successes through social media, and we are very aware of which students can or cannot be included. In my role, I teach every student in the entire school, so I very quickly figured out which students I can include in my photos and videos at the beginning of the year. In past years I have a tried to use a blog to share what is going on in the Arts Ed classroom, but I have found that Twitter is a lot easier for quick sharing AND has the bonus of engaging with families and other educators.
But, Team Agree then made me realize that when I post images on Twitter of students and student work, I am basing my decision on whether or not a media release form has been signed by the parent/guardian. I rarely ask the student if I can post their image on my Twitter account – a discussion of permission usually only takes place when an older student expresses that they do not want their photo taken or posted anywhere. Upon reflection, I feel like I am doing a disservice to my students by not explaining the rationale for a post or including the students in the decision. I didn’t even think about the fact that these students will inherit a digital footprint that they had no part in creating.
When did the sharing culture shift to feeling like we have the right to post any picture on social media simply because it was a photo taken by the poster? In the early days of social media, I remember asking my sister if I could post certain images of my nieces and nephews, but now it isn’t even a conversation. A BBC poll showed that 70% of adults believe it is not okay to post photos of anyone else, including children, without permission, and 56% of parents avoid ever posting images online. I think that if were to take this same poll, I would agree with these statements. But in reality, my practices do not reflect my opinion.
There is a lot of good advice in this suggested article like parents should advocate digital consent and ownership so they can help teach their children to value it as well. Another campaign is the #talkb4sharing movement which asks parents to talk to their children before posting their images online. While this is directed towards parents, educators could use similar practices to encourage consent among their students.
(As a side note, Team Agree really struck a nerve when they discussed the fact that any innocent photo could be used by Internet predators. In fact, 50% of images posted on child pedophile sites were sourced from parent social media profiles. Shudder)
Where do we go from here? The first step is to think before we share.
Team Disagree helped calm my mind a bit and helped me to remember my original opinion that I think openness and sharing among our students is a good thing. In one of the suggested journal articles, the benefits of social media in education are explored and how it can be used to promote student engagement. Certain web-based applications can simplify the communication among students, between student and teacher and with parent and teacher. One could also note the negatives of this easy communication, especially with parent-teacher communication. Boundaries are necessary so the ability to be in constant communication is not abused.
An exciting point about social media in education is that is fosters collaboration and allows students to work together to achieve a common goal. Recently, my students participated in an activist art project with students in both RPS and RCS school divisions. We connected on Twitter using the hashtag, #YQRActivistArt as an outlet to share our work. While it was not used by a lot of schools, the hope was that it would be used to engage our students and see what other groups in the city were doing to create socially aware art projects. Collaborative learning is meaningful for students and social media is one way to let students share and express their ideas.
The EdTek White Paper explains that educators are very important in building students’ understanding about how technology can impact personal and future professional lives. Educators have a responsibility to teach our students how to create habits that will lead to a positive online identity. The article uses ISTE standards to provide recommendations and questions to help students:
What info am I sharing?
How secure is it?**
Whom am I sharing it with?
What am I leaving behind?
What are my rights?
**Security online is expressed using the STEP method:
Our role as educators is to give students the skills they need to protect themselves online and create a positive digital footprint.
Let me reflect on the debate statement again:
Openness and sharing in our schools is unfair to our kids
I feel like the debate this week took me on an emotional roller coaster. First I disagreed with the statement, then Team Agree made me fear and question my teaching practices. Am I bad educator for not asking my students their permission to post photos? And what about the gross idea that pedophiles could be taking these images? But then Team Disagree calmed my nerves a bit and reminded me that openness and sharing in our schools promotes engagement and collaboration. As a responsible educator, it is my job to inform and teach students ways to create a positive digital footprint and to help students understand consent and permission to post photos and work online. I can do this by modelling good online behaviour and discussing sharing online with my students. I still have a lot of work to do in these areas and intend to implement some of the good sharing practices shared by both teams.
Last week, I teamed up with two colleagues, Shelby and Amanda to form Team Disagree for the debate statement:
Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled.
We created an opening statement video for the debate, and after a strong rebuttal with Team Agree and class discussion, I still strongly support our disagree stance.
Our opening statement video:
To support our argument, we focused on three main points:
Google should be used as a tool to build foundational skills and understand how to verify factual information
Memorization has an important place in developing student learning skills
Google is hindering our ability to concentrate and focus
It is interesting that both Team Agree and Team Disagree mentioned the significance of critical thinking in education. Team Agree focused on the importance of learning to problem solve and develop critical thinking skills as knowledge is changing faster than ever and continues to grow. Furthermore, as stated in one of their suggested articles, students and educators teaching in the 21st century need to learn 21st century competencies. The emphasis should be on content creation instead of reproduction of information, as this will be most beneficial to learner development.
Similarly, my team (disagree) also focused on the importance of critical thinking and teaching students how to use tools like Google to guide students through the information and think about what they are accessing. In short, teachers need to help guide our students to learn ways to use Google appropriately and develop critical thinking skills. As stated in our team’s suggested article, when students think critically, they actively engage in these processes:
To help students reach these processes, teachers need to prepare a variety of hands-on activities that allow the students to be involved in their learning. While both Team Agree and Disagree believe that critical thinking is important, we have to teach our students how to develop the skills without Google first. This goes along with the idea of “smart searching” as described in our suggested article.
Instead of just releasing our students into the world of Google, teachers should first model the process for searching online. Since Google is so open and accessible, a good tip is to teach students how to predict results they expect to see. This way students can evaluate what they are typing in the search box and if they think it will produce the results they want.
In high school, I had a teacher briefly touch on the idea of “smart searching” on Google. Fast-forward a few years later in a university career session, an advisor expressed the importance of “googling yourself”, so you could see what future employers may find about you.
When you search Catherine Ready, there is a wide range of results, from websites relevant to me, to articles that simply included the words “Catherine” and “ready” – ready being a very common term! Once I began using a few “smart searching” techniques, I was able to find articles and websites related specifically to me over the last decade. These searching tips are easily found on Google, but it was through the guidance of a teacher that showed me how to use Google in an efficient and effective way in my learning.
The second point to support our argument is that memorization has a place in learning. Interestingly, Team Agree spoke to the detrimental effects of rote learning, or simply memorizing through drilling and repetition.
In our research and suggested article, memorization is considered a tool in learning and involves a variety of methods to help students recall and remember information. Rote learning is only one way to commit things to memory and instead students can use techniques like visualization, imagery and mnemonics.
Growing up, learning through memorization was (and still is) something I loved. I always felt that I had a really good handle on how to memorize, using songs, rhythms, imagery and mnemonics. I also heavily relied on rote memorizing through drilling and repetition of skills like multiplication tables, French vocabulary, science facts, etc. Additionally, I danced, figure skated and took music lessons – all areas that required memorization. My first undergraduate degree was in music with a concentration in piano and part of the degree requirements included memorizing over an hour of music to be performed in recital.
I like to think I mastered the art of memory work and have experienced firsthand how memorization helps learners grow and move beyond the basic level of recall and remembering. Through my strong knowledge basic of facts (from math facts to music theory terms and rules) I have been able to “move up the ladder” of Bloom’s Taxonomy and go deeper into my learning to the more sophisticated levels of analyzing, evaluating and creating.
as an educator, it would be naive to think that every student would be able to learn and memorize exactly as I did as a student. Since memory work is something that I find simple and enjoyable, I could assume that all students would feel the same way. My job as an educator is to teach students how to memorize and build a knowledge base. One of the suggested articles by Team Agree states that:
“The objective of education is learning, not teaching”.
I agree with this point, but I also understand that we can teach our students how to memorize through hands on activities, especially with song, dance, rhythms, patterns and imagery.
As an arts educator, I am trained in the Orff Schulwerk Approach. This style of music education is a process that encourages students to explore and experience music through singing, movement and playing instruments. But interestingly enough, all music and songs in the Orff Approach are taught to first be memorized through rote learning and then movement and instruments are added. This is a starting point in music education to develop the musical ear before we introduce music theory and learning to read music and rhythms.
In higher grades, I teach guitar and I require students to memorize a few basic chords so that they can grow and improve their playing more quickly. Sure, they could google the chord every time, or they could commit the chord to memory through repetition, visualizing and practicing the finger placement on the fretboard – a very “hands on” activity. This is much more effective for a developing musician and allows students to eventually move to the creating and composing levels in music.
Finally, there is research that every time you learn something new, a connection is formed between neurons in the brain. The more you repeat the learning – possibly through memorization – the stronger the connections. The more you keep something in short term memory, it will eventually be pushed to long-term memory, so therefore practice makes perfect, and memorization is one way to do it.
Our last point to support our argument is that Google is hindering our ability to concentrate. Last week, I touched on how technology has played a distracting role throughout my education. One reason it is more difficult to concentrate is that when we are on the Internet for answers, we can be easily distracted by advertisements, videos, links and other information that is strategically targeted to the user, but unrelated to the topic we are searching. In our suggested article, there is concern that we are relying on skimming rather than deep-reading information. If we want an answer quickly, all we have to do is “google it” instead of creating our own pathways to learn new information. The article even goes on to suggest that our brains are changing to adapt to this new form of quick thinking. As educators, it is our responsibility to continue teaching and showing students how to learn and acquire new information. If we go back to our first point, it is important to practice critical thinking skills and teach our students how to use Google effectively.
At the end of the day, the Internet has no limits to the amount and kind of information that can be accessed by our students. If we did not teach things that could be googled, there would not be anything left to teach! Educators have to find a way to balance a variety of learning techniques (include using Google) and how to incorporate these ideas into 21st century education. With so many ways to learn, access and explore information, we can rely on research to support our teaching methods so we can foster strong critical thinkers and flexible learners.