As we near the end of our learning projects, I started working on my final goal piece, the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves“. This has always been one of my favourites and my earliest introduction to jazz music. After a little bit of analysis, I found that it follows the simple 2-5-1 chord progression I started working on at the beginning of my learning project.
I love that I can start transferring my new skills to different pieces! Here is my progress this week:
This week was all about rootless voicings on the piano. I carried on with my work on ‘Misty’ from last week and tried a different style of comping. I originally planned on introducing another song this week, but I found the rootless voicings to be challenging and require more time. I tried figuring out the voicings in my head at the piano, but it was too much to think about. So I decided to break it down by going back to the theory basics and writing out each chord, determining the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 13th. Then, I wrote out the chords transitions so that there would be nice voice leading and common tones between the chords.
A side note about voice leading: I studied a lot of Bach chorales in my first and second year of music school, with the goal of understanding proper voice leading. There are lots of “rules” with voice leading, but they help with problems like:
“smoothness, independence and integrity or melodic lines, tonal fusion (the preference for simultaneous notes to form a consonant unity), variety, motion (towards a goal)” – Open Music Theory
Open Music Theory is an open source textbook (open educational resource). Cool!
In short, good voice leading makes music sound pleasing to the human ear! I really like the end result of my progress this week:
rootless chord voicings – figuring out which notes to play and using good voice leading
Starting to incorporate good voice leading
Overlaying multiple videos in my vlog
I had to write out the chords this week (instead of figuring out the chords in my head). Although not my original plan, it allowed me to really understand the theoretical sides of rootless chords and good voice leading.
I think we have reached the halfway point in our learning projects! I feel like I am developing more independence in my jazz playing skills (for example, I can just sit down at the piano and experiment – get this – WITHOUT SHEET MUSIC!). Last week was all about reading a lead sheet and this week I focused on the art of comping. In a jazz group rhythm section, there is usually a bass player (responsible for the root of the chords), drums (rhythmic accompaniment) and piano/guitar to fill in the chord harmonies. Comping is essentially accompanying a soloist in an interesting way. Here is my progress with comping so far:
What I worked on:
Practicing the chords for “Misty” (focus on playing the root, 3rd and 7th notes)
Experimenting with different comping patterns for “Misty”. I learned about 3 different styles: walking bass, open voicings, rootless voicings. I chose open voicings this week.
I felt like I was able to use my creative side and experiment with different comping rhythms and voicings. It was fun!
Feeling hesitant with my chord voicing choices and concerned with playing the “wrong” notes. As soon as I relaxed, it felt a lot easier.
Next week I plan to continue experimenting with different comping styles (different rhythm patterns and rootless voicings) and try out a different jazz standard. I think am ready to start jamming with other musicians – any takers?? 🙂
This week in EC&1 831, we were tasked to find a tool or app that we haven’t used before that could be used to make learning visible. After a few discussions in class and Twitter about podcasts, I am eager to look at the podcasting tool Anchor. I really liked how my classmate Jessica set up her review, so I will be borrowing her format. Thanks Jessica!
Why I chose Anchor:
First, a(n unnecessary) preamble:
I have been a lover of podcasts since 2012. I was obsessed with Season 1 of “Serial” and loved this new distraction tool during long drives, while doing laundry or going for a run. I dabbled in serious and educational podcasts, thinking it was important to use the time to learn something new. Then on an all-inclusive vacation in 2013, my best friend introduced me to The Pretty Good Podcast – a daily nonsense podcast that was mostly fluff. This mindless listening was so relaxing that now my preferred podcasts are comedy and pop culture. I enjoyed connecting with the podcasters through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I then moved into the world of Adam Carolla and eventually Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend. This information is probably not important, but I think that a podcast listening list says a lot about a person. (So I should probably say I like to listen to This American Life or Revisionist History to sound more interesting.)
I always wondered how I could use podcasts in the classroom. As a personal project, my sister, niece and I decided to start a podcast two years ago. We created an opening theme song, branded logo for Twitter and Instagram, bought a domain and even recorded a few episodes using Audacity. But we ran into trouble when we couldn’t figure out how to easily host and distribute our podcast, especially for free. So we gave up.
SO, why Anchor? Because:
Anchor is an all-in-one platform where you can create, distribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.
easy to use (and nice to look at!)
mobile and web options
Overview of the app:
After downloading from the App store on my iPhone, I created an account with my personal e-mail and was given a quick tour about podcasting with Anchor:
**Login options require an email, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. In my division we would use our Google (G Suite) logins, but I’m not sure how this would work with other divisions.
The app is very intuitive and user friendly and does not require a lot of explanation – it has a “start and go” layout. After playing around with it for about 20 minutes, I was able to record a few sections, add some musical interludes, “drops” or sound effects and transitions. There is an option to add music if you link an Apple Music or Spotify account, but the music is only available if you listen to the podcast within the Anchor app.
The audio editing function is very straightforward and allows you to split tracks and trim the beginning and ending of each clip. There are not a lot of audio editing options (compared to a program like Audacity – no fading, adjusting speed, pitch, etc), but the simplicity would be perfect for students. You can also import existing audio (like from a Voice Memo, or a pre-recorded theme song) easily through the mobile app or web page.
simple, easy-to-use interface
basic editing functions that would suit the needs of students
Mobile and web platforms are similar (ex. mobile app has all the same functions as web)
Record many clips over a long period of time before putting together an episode
Easy podcast distribution (and options to monetize) – step-by-step prompts that are quick to follow
The ‘Discover’ option on the app allows you to explore different podcasts. This might be hard to monitor with students to make sure the use is appropriate
basic (limited) audio editing functions
everyone involved in the recording need to be in the same location (unless you use Skype or another type of audio conference, which would compromise quality). There is a ‘Record with Friends’ option, but it is only available on the mobile app.
Overall, Anchor is appealing because of it’s clean and simple interface. There are easy functions (but limited options) with editing that would make it ideal for use in a classroom setting. Also, once you set up an account, you can access your work from the mobile app or on a computer via the web page. The hosting, distribution and monetization options are great, but probably not necessary for working with students.
Using the tool personally:
Since creating a podcast with my sister and niece as a little “passion-project” a couple years ago, we might revisit our work and try uploading the existing audio files to Anchor and distribute our podcast. One of the requirements for distribution is that you have a podcast name and cover art, which we already have…so maybe we will try it out!
Using the tool in instruction situations:
I think there are lots of cross-curricular options with podcasting. As an arts education teacher, maybe my focus would be more on the overall design of the podcast (cover art, theme song, use of sound effects and musical interludes). You could use podcasts in every subject, maybe with inquiry projects, interviews, book reviews… the list goes on. The simplicity of Anchor means the focus stays on content rather than trying to figure out how to use the app.
Using the tool to document learning and growth:
Podcasts can be used as e-portfolios for students and allow for opportunities to document personal reflections. Since you can record many clips over an extended period before putting together an ‘episode’, it allows students to keep a running documentation of their learning or projects.
Overall, I am very impressed with Anchor. It is easy to use with a simple interface, basic set up and functions. I am excited to use it personally so I have a very strong understanding of the functions before rolling it out with students.
Does anyone have experience using Anchor with students? Did you require any division approval before using the app?
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 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.
As I reflect on my journey from student to educator, I can think of many times that technology has both positively and negatively affected the learning experience. Throughout my own education, personal technology has played a distracting role, mostly due to social media and messaging between friends.
Even before smartphones, I remember downloading the SelfControl app on my computer so that I could block Facebook for a set amount of time and force myself to stay on task. I also used the app during class time so I would use my computer strictly to take notes. While I do not think that social media had a negative effect on my grades, I did have to make a conscious effort to use technology appropriately.
But if I reflect on my experience using technology as tool in my own learning and now as an educator, I believe the access to information, collaboration with peers and ease of completing course work has been invaluable. Therefore:
I completely agree with the statement, “technology in the classroom enhances learning”.
Team Disagree had a compelling argument, especially with the idea that Silicon Valley giants send their children to schools with a technology free environment.
As Beverly Amico explained in this suggested article, “teachers encourage students to learn curriculum subjects by expressing themselves through artistic activities, such as painting and drawing, rather than consuming information downloaded onto a tablet”. While I believe these artistic activities are extremely important in early years learning, I do think it is possible to incorporate technology as a tool to complement rather than replace these learning experiences. The Waldorf ideal stressed in the article focuses on the idea to “remove the distraction of electronic media and encourage stronger engagement between teach and pupil during lesson”, but I think that it is possible to use technology in a way that increases student engagement.
The student should be the main focus in planning for learning, and to use technology effectively, educators need to find a way to use it to enhance the learning process. I found this image in the suggested article to very clearly express the benefits of using technology in the classroom:
Very simply stated in the article to solidify the agree side:
“technology provides greater depth and richness not otherwise available”.
Although I do agree that the cost of technology can sometimes limit accessibility, the first three points are weak statements in my opinion. If technology is simply used as a substitution or replacement, there can be an element of student distraction that leads to limited learning. But if technology is implemented with the guidance of the SAMR or TPACK models, negative effects can be avoided.
This brings me to my final point to side with Team Agree in the argument that technology in the classroom enhances learning.
The suggested article explains that although technology could be a negative aspect in the classroom, teachers have the ability to use it to improve engagement. For example, teachers could see a different kind of class participation. Perhaps quieter students will feel more empowered to participate in class discussions. This can be related to our own EC&I 830 Zoom sessions – some students thrive on verbally speaking in class discussions and other students (like myself) feel more comfortable contributing via the chat.
As a small aside, I remember stressing and worrying about classes that required and depended on vocal participation in whole group discussions. My introvert-self preferred and felt more comfortable with small group discussions and written reflections. Now in my own teaching, I can reach different student learners through various teaching strategies, including technology (like Flipgrid, Google Suite, Twitter, Kahoot, and more).
To effectively integrate technology in the classroom, it is important to teach digital citizenship before introducing the tools, and returning to these teachings throughout the year. Furthermore, if we think of
technology as the partner
we are able to find and integrate the “sweet spot” as noted in the TPACK model, when all three knowledge areas work together.
Using the guidelines outlined in both the TPACK and SAMR models allows educators to find the best way to make content more accessible to students using the best pedagogical strategies. The main goal – find a way to meet student needs in the most engaging way that will lead to increased motivation.
In closing, educational technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve and rapidly change as it already has in our careers as learners and educators. Both before and after the debate, I agreed with the statement that, “technology in the classroom enhances learning”. After the arguments presented by both sides, through suggested readings and my own research, I believe that technology has the ability to transform student learning when implemented as a tool and partner. As we continue to find ways to redefine student learning, we can use technology to enhance and complement the classroom experience.
“To understand their world we must be willing to immerse ourselves in that world. We must embrace the new digital reality. If we can’t relate, if we don’t get it, we won’t be able to make schools relevant to the current and future needs of the digital generation.” –Ian Jukes