I can’t feel my face on facebook…

…but I love it, but I love it (you’re welcome).

 

Digital dualism is a farce- and augmented reality is the new black, or is it orange? -If you don’t believe me, consider Nathan Jurgenson’s ideas below:

 

Our debate teams did an excellent job this week, and had me considering:  Do I need to unplug to be an ‘in the now’ person?  Am I missing things around me by looking at my phone?  What are the implications of a digital age for my children who are growing up with devices all around them?

There are so many things to consider in this topic.

Erin makes several points in her blog that were very relevant to me.  I’m an introvert as, and as such sometimes real life, face to face social situations overwhelm me.  It’s nice to have a device to turn my attention to in order to ‘control’ the overwhelmed feelings I may be having.

Katia among others also mentioned the ability to connect with family and friends far away, and I also am able to do that effectively.

The truth of the matter is that we live in “the technology age” and I believe that augmented reality is how we live our lives now.  Most people have devices, have social media or can access the internet at almost any given time.  As such, I feel like looking at the idea of ‘unplugging’ as somewhat unnecessary.  After all, when you are taking a break from technology, are you leaving the lights out and not using pencil and paper as well?  These are technology’s that were developed once upon a time as well – why haven’t people demanded we take a break from using lights, furnaces etc?  Wouldn’t we all become much more independent and resourceful if we challenged ourselves to live through a week of Saskatchewan winter ‘unplugged’ from our furnace (I know I said the ‘w’ word – sorry about that).

This connects back to our earlier debates about health and technology and finding ‘balance’ (in my opinion) .  I think we need to work to include technology as ‘part’ of the whole picture.  If we consider our children who were born into this age of devices and technology, are we modelling the best strategies for them if we have an all or none mentality?  Or are we doing a better service to our children if we model moderation in how we are using technology and when?

As far as am I missing things around me by looking at my phone:

 

This is a good video to consider – is this what I do?  My answer is no.  I think this is a good illustration of what excessive use looks like and as long as your phone is not always in front of your face, and you can recall conversations with people when you didn’t have your phone in your hand – I think we can/are able to practice moderation in this era of technology.

I will continue to try to model moderation for my own children (and those I work with) and I will remember that sometimes I don’t require a cell phone!

 

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It’s the final countdown (aka my Summary of Learning)

Well, to say that was a whirlwind semester would be an understatement!  So much learning, so little time… and it was June to boot.

I started thinking about what to do for my summary of learning right away, well following week 2, when Heidi and I finished our debate.  For some reason, every time I was considering what platform to use and what I was going to say, a song popped in my head (well two, actually).

I set to work right away, and started creating ‘the lyrics’, as this was (inevitably) going to turn into a singing summary.

My first attempt, was with Don McLean’s American Pie.  I was able to create lyrics that went with the song, and reflected fairly thoroughly (it’s a REALLY long song).  When it came time to record… I wasn’t feeling it.

american pie remix_Page_1american pie remix_Page_2american pie remix_Page_3american pie remix_Page_4

Feel free to sing along…

So, I switched gears, and went with song #2 that kept popping into my head.  Enter lyric re-write.

 

E C and I to the 8 3 0_Page_1E C and I to the 8 3 0_Page_2E C and I to the 8 3 0_Page_3E C and I to the 8 3 0_Page_4

Next, I had to work through determining what the best recording option was.  A student recommended an app called ‘Auto Rap‘ after several hours, and several failed attempts, and sharing it with a colleague for advice.  I decided to just use music from YouTube, and sing along.

While it was much better, I’m aware that I have tendencies to be a perfectionist in some realms (this is one of them),  I spent some more time fixing the ‘video’ and one more attempt recording – using a microphone and I think I figured it out.

Enough with the technical side though, what about the learning?!

One of the things I have  found most beneficial in my learning over the last few months stems from the SAMR model.  I’ve often seen the version which illustrates a boat on top of the water, and as you move through the ‘levels’ you get deeper and deeper.  I appreciate that depending on one’s comfort level with technology could easily dictate where you fall on the scale (if you fall on it at all). However, I have also come to understand that in order to currently be the most effective teacher of 21st century learners, we need to move our comfort level along at a much faster rate.  We also must further our technology skills through PD (even if that means it is self directed and in our own time).

Because technology is never static and constantly changing/developing at such an accelerated rate, if we as educators do not stay on top of technology, we are doing our students a greater and greater disservice.  That being said, as Dean Shareski shares in his blog about coding, as teachers, we are generalists, it would be impossible to expect that teachers are experts in all areas they teach.

As far as what we teach and how we teach it goes, teachers should not have the ability to stick their ‘heads in the sand’ and wait for technology to go away – that’s not going to happen.

Bury_your_head_in_the_sand.jpg
by Sander van der Wel (CC by SA 2.0)
I will continue to strive for ‘balance’ within all aspects of my life, and I will continue to help my children find the same ‘balance’.

Additionally, I feel as though it is important to work toward that same balance in our schools, we should see that some skills have become less essential (ie. cursive) while others should remain as mainstays (ie. repetitive sight word and math skill work), and while there is room for these things to be integrated into ‘technology’ time, if we are considering the SAMR model, we should be working toward achieving these skills without throwing in technology for the sake of throwing technology in!

Mostly, what I have learned about technology and education or technology and parenting (because I have learned a lot about both of them)  is that I don’t think there is one correct way of ‘teaching technology’, I certainly don’t think there is an easy way to answer all of the questions that surround using technology in the classroom, after all, this is still in its infancy really(in the grand scheme of things).  What I do believe is important, is that we work to consider ‘both sides’ of the argument/debate, and question or critically consider what we are using technology for before we use it!

Now that all of that is out of the way, please feel free to watch the video that took me out of my comfort zone this semester:

 

 

 

Corporatization in our schools

This week is a big one… Public education has sold its soul to corporate interests in what amounts to a Faustian bargain. Agree or disagree?

 

Oracle_Corporation_HQ
Brian DuffCC-BY-SA-3.0 via wikimedia commons

 

Prior to the debate, I was pretty sure I agreed with this- I mean, what place do corporations and businesses have within a school?  Education is different than business we deal in social capital (read: the social/emotional aspects of growing and learning) , not monetary capital.  As such, the values don’t align and businesses should stay away from schools.

…or should they?

Then I started considering my own practice/experience.  Scholastic book fairs are a staple in my library, I get to ‘promote’ literacy, new books for the Library and cash for incentives/author visits.  I sold my “Librarian soul” a long time ago to Scholastic in turn for all of these ‘benefits’.  And why?  Well, some of my students don’t otherwise have the opportunity to shop for books outside of the community, there certainly would not be any opportunities to bring authors into our schools to speak to/inspire our students, and because I believe that sometimes we get some otherwise non-readers, reading a little bit more.

Dean argued that it is possible for companies to have a conscience and do things with meaning and purpose.  I was skeptical to say the least.  When does a company care about more than money?

Is it possible?

Google has policies surrounding corporate responsibility, and I’m told Discovery Education also has these mantras.

google-76659_1280.png
CC0 via Pixabay

Is it possible that there is good within the bad?

I’d be lying if I said I’d be turning my back on additional funds for my school and students during this current time when our government has seemingly pulled the plug on funding for Education.

Furthermore, I think Jeremy  has it right when he discusses running our schools with a “Lean” mentality will continue to widen the very gaps we are trying to close.

When Education is seen as a ‘burden’ to taxpayers, I wonder how we can work to change the perception, and work to have people consider education as a social investment (as Audrey discussed).  It seems to me that the biggest disservice that our government can do, is view Education through a business model, because in doing so, they do not see schools generating revenue.

My assumption is that our current government sees Education from a business perspective, and as such we are already currently vastly underfunded- as the current government clearly see no value in it.  I would argue, that the revenue we generate arises from giving our students a proper, well funded education, and investing in them, so they can in turn support and engage in our economy when they have completed their education.

There is evidence from the United States which indicates some of the issues experienced with funding cuts. We can see that bringing corporations into Education can be problematic.

However, when I am weighing the good and the bad, along with the lack of funding we are currently facing, I feel like I have to consider:

Now, I am starting to wonder- can we be critical and question what companies are offering us, and manage to find some ‘good companies’ who are also looking out for some ‘social capital’?

Maybe?  Sometimes?

Yet another week in the grey!

Back in my day….

I wore shorts in the middle of winter and never got cold.

I really did wear shorts (I’m pretty sure it a rebellious phase), I’m pretty sure I got cold- but I don’t remember feeling cold.

Is Social Media ruining childhood?

There are so many facets to this question.  Compared to who’s childhood and when?  What exactly does ‘ruin’ mean – and in who’s opinion counts in determining if it is in fact ruined?

“I think it’s natural to over-romanticize your childhood. That’s what nostalgia is all about. But I also know that [in the 70’s] we had smokers in every room of every family member’s house, every restaurant.” – Sandy Roffey

Ellen’s got it summed up nicely when she posits that humans continue to gain knowledge – and that includes the current generation!

In my opinion, this is exactly right!  Our knowledge continues to grow and evolve – and as such we know that somethings are dangerous now that wasn’t apparent years ago.  Adaptations should be made when we gain new knowledge, would it be acceptable knowing what we know now, to allow smoking in public establishments?  If not, then why are some lamenting about drinking from a potentially toxic hose?

Vision Media article shares that: Many parents lament the fact that it’s becoming very difficult to purchase “little girl” clothes. They say designers have simply shrunk teenage styles to fit younger girls.

One Australian parent says his 10-year-old daughter wants to dress in “as little as possible—summer or winter.” Her mother does not dress that way, neither does the family allow any magazines into the house that would encourage that sort of clothing.

The statements in the article continue to blame their child’s peer group (and Brittany Spears in one case) for their child’s desire to dress ‘provocatively’.

Two things come to mind with these statements:

1).  Why are we blaming peer (female) groups for the way girls are dressing and not questioning ad agencies, marketing campaign’s and pop culture?

2).  Why are we continuing to ‘blame’ girls and call them out on their choice of clothing?  There are societal issues which work to keep women and girls in an impossible state- women and girls are overtly sexualized in the media/advertisements etc., and then are blamed for their attire as if they’ve done something wrong when choosing it – how is it possible to make the ‘right’ choice?

There are certainly ways that young girls can dress, be ‘fashionable’ and yet appropriate. Additionally, I would say that the same holds true for boys – but are people crying out in protest about that?  Are some of today’s clothes for children more subdued and less ‘in your face’ shirts?  Yes, but does that mean there is a moral slump in the way our children behave?  Did I have a better child-hood because I walked around with a gaudy character on my shirt?

Is this feeling all a bit rant-y and unrelated to social media affecting child-hood today?

I can see how you would think that, but I can’t help but question blaming social media for the ‘moral decline’ people seem to think there is with “kids these days”.  As stated earlier, as a ‘species’ we have advanced our knowledge on an ongoing basis.  Social media is a by-product of that advancement.  We adapt as we learn – we don’t smoke in all places any longer, we don’t drink out of chemical laden products, etc, and we do so to improve the quality of life based upon our knowledge.

To me, blaming social media for the arbitrary “moral decline” which is apparently occurring is reminiscent of ‘shooting the messenger’.  It is the scape goat, used by those in power to place blame away from a real issue, which is social inequality that leads to the hyper-sexualization of our children and the objectifying of our young girls.

Social media is NOT ruining childhood, and I believe, that social media if harnessed and utilized correctly can actually be responsible for openness, growth and fostering global connections.

 

With technology and equity for all…

I have to examine the definitions here.  This is the only logical way I can determine how I feel about the debate.

Equity is fairness or justice in the way people are treated as defined by Merriam-Webster.

Then what is fairness? Merriam-Webster defines it as treating people in a way that does not favor some over others (emphasis added).

Now that the semantics are out of the way, I need to consider Is technology is a force for equity in society?

As stated in Edtech Magazine “If the technology revolution only happens for families that already have money and education, then it’s not really a revolution,” Duncan said at the summit keynote.

This statement has me considering the similarities between technology in education and healthcare systems.  The idea of universal healthcare  is one reminiscent of a techno – utopianistic society  .  Everyone is entitled to the service regardless of their SES, age, gender, orientation, etc.  These ideals should ensure that each individual has the same access and therefore the same benefits from the ‘service’.  Perhaps in a perfect world, this would work, everyone would has surgery/cancer treatment/coding skills as soon as they accessed the ‘service’ – but does does the theory convert to practice that well?

This is not where my comparison ends.  In Canada, I fear that we are teetering on the edge of a two-tier healthcare system – not unlike what I believe the U.S has converted to.

I remember once upon a time, in a former career when my ‘boss’ at the time was having a conversation with me about how it should be his right to pay for medical services if he wants to in order to by-pass the wait times.  I disagreed with him at the time, but couldn’t articulate why  (I promise I will return to this – bear with me).

I believe that the current state of ‘technology dispersal’ (yup, coined that term myself) is mirrored by the two-tiered health care model.  Those with lower SES have marginalized access to systems – you can sometimes use computers and the internet at school, at the public library, when you can access free wi-fi in a public space; although you are constantly ‘kept down’, not seen as ‘performing adequately’, or falling behind or becoming ‘less’ than your counter parts.

What I wish I could have articulated to my former employer should have went something like this:

A two-tiered health care system (read: inequality in technology access), would work to implement yet another barrier for those who are currently limited and shunted by systemic inequalities that are rampant in our society.  It would ultimately further the divide among the social classes in our society and work to ‘ghettoize’ the other, thereby allowing those with privilege and power (read: white, english speaking, male, able-bodied) yet another opportunity to blame the ‘other’ for their place in society that you have essentially put them into.

Moreover, when reading the Hechinger Report it becomes evident that access to service only accounts for a piece of the puzzle:

Within these very different communities, however, are two places remarkably similar in the resources they provide: the local public libraries. Each has been retooled with banks of new computers, the latest software and speedy Internet access.

The un-leveling impact of technology also has to do with a phenomenon known as the “Matthew Effect”: the tendency for early advantages to multiply over time.

As with books and reading, the most knowledgeable, most experienced, and most supported students are those best positioned to use computers to leap further ahead.

Is this where things like Aski & SeeSaw come in as the ‘technology’ answer to the “Matthew Effect”?  If this is a researched, proven phenomenon- why are we not allotting additional resources for our youngest learners?

I, like Jeremy, have seen marked improvements in motivation and academic output from students I work with, when teaching with technology is implemented.

As I reflect upon all of the ideas swirling around in my head the question remains:

Is technology is a force for equity in society?

This week, I think my answer is (shocking) in the grey once again.  I think technology can be a force for equity, if it is implemented in a well considered, well thought out way- which includes finding a way to move out of the ‘two-tiered technology system’.

Ok, am I THAT parent?

Me, as a Social Media Mom

My children aren’t old enough to have their own social media accounts, but they will often ask me to take pictures of them, and sometimes they even ask me to post pictures they’ve asked me to take!  I work to try and limit what I am posting, but I have used the space to keep friends and family who are farther away up to date about my life/kids.  I have my settings set to private, but I have put out birthday announcements, and I use their names (not full names- but still).

I’ve combed through my accounts countless times, searching for pictures that my children might be embarrassed by, and for the most part, I think I’m going to be ok.

fb status
Screenshot via my Facebook account

 

In fairness, I said I was mostly good with what I share.

“If you aren’t controlling your (digital) footprint, others are”  Meredith Stewart via Twitter

When I was reading the article from  The Guardian, it made me consider what I am sharing and how I am sharing things about my children online.

“There are two things to be careful about,” says Victoria Nash, acting director of the Oxford Internet Institute. “One is the amount of information that you give away, which might include things like date of birth, place of birth, the child’s full name, or tagging of any photographs with a geographical location – anything that could be used by somebody who wanted to steal your child’s identity.

“The second issue is more around consent. What type of information would children want to see about themselves online at a later date?”

Having read this, I am busy considering:  Have I shared too much?  Should I have been the diligent parent who only refers to my daughter as ‘D’?  When I am putting up pics saying “Oh my gosh __________ is ____!”  Who can see that its their birthday?  Again I am torn – am I sharing too much?  Isn’t ‘connecting’ the purpose of social media?

Overall, I do think I am comfortable with what I choose to share about my children online, I think there’s a balance of real life and gushy-mom stuff (you know, look at how cute this kid is, I can’t believe they can do _________ now…).

The part of the article, that really had me questioning myself was the ‘honing’ of the friends list.  I’ve always been pretty ‘selective’ in who my Facebook friends are (read:  I need to know you in some capacity to friend you in that space)  it’s a personal account.  However, that being said, after reading the article on the Guardian, I looked at my friend count for the first time in a while and I have over 300 FB friends (insert wide-eyed emoticon here).  There’s just no way!  How did it get that out of hand??  I’m sharing personal ‘connecting’ things about myself and my family to over 300 people when I post?  I’m an introvert, this makes no sense!  I have never trimmed, or considered ‘trimming’ my friend list on FB until now.  I may just have to see how many of these people I really want in my ‘personal’ social media sphere.  Perhaps it is time I pay attention to what the ‘younger’ generation has been doing with their online accounts, and limit my presence or my audience.

That being said, after reviewing the  PEW research, maybe this is the directions the ‘older generation’ (don’t get mad at me, I think I’m included in this sphere too) is heading towards.  ‘Pruning’ friends seems to be a newer trend with older adults.

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CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

Me and Social Media, Professionally

The funniest part of this all, is that these thoughts never need to be considered for my ‘professional’ Social Media spaces (Twitter)  because I am extra selective with the photos I post, and I always discuss with the students before I tweet it, and sometimes even when I have the parents permission and students, I refrain from posting pictures of students!
When considering my own child (for a second), everyday we have the conversation, where I ask about how her day was, and often, I had to have a few more probing questions before I can get an fuller account of what her day entailed.  Fast forward to this past couple of weeks, and she has been (before I even ask) explaining in detail assignments that she was working on, and things they did.  The difference?  Her classroom started using SeeSaw, and she has totally bought in!
Seeing it first hand, I think the connection that current students make when they feel like it has an ‘impact’ or an ‘audience’ it is really effective in creating student engagement.
What’s most interesting is the learner agency engaged through this sharing of work in public spaces. Learners understand the potential impact on wider audiences. KQED

Ironically, the questions I find myself pondering are:  Are there other ways I can work to share student’s work/learning online?  Should I be tweeting more videos and pictures illustrating students learning?  Am I being too restrictive with what I am sharing?

Excuse me while I find balance – I mean my phone

balance
created by @asingh2

 

Differentiation, student-centered learning, Bloom’s taxonomy, Digital literacy – these are all terms listed by Wikipedia as Educational buzzwords.  After this weeks second debate, I’m left wondering – is balance another word to add to the list?  What exactly is this ‘balance’ I strive for, that I encourage my students to seek out?

Merriam-Webster defines BALANCE as: a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance

Quite frankly, this definition screams buzzword to me.  What does ‘proper’ amount of importance even mean?  How can one determine they are ‘balanced’ or whether or not someone else is in fact ‘balanced’?  It all seems somewhat judgmental and arbitrary now that I have examined the definition.

After reading about the effects of technology on children, and watching the following video, I was left wondering a few things.

While I’m not going to pretend like I know a lot about how the brain functions, and whether or not the ‘brain science’ in the video is accurately depicted,  I have to wonder if scans of the brain were completed when paper and pencils were introduced into Education, or if perhaps, brain scans were done when radio was introduced into society.  The Smithsonian recounts

Not everyone embraced the radio or understood how it functioned. The resulting mystery left some Americans wary. Were electromagnetic waves responsible for droughts? Skeptics blamed radios for the vibrations of bed springs, the creaking of floorboards, even a vomiting child. In Wisconsin, people thought radios could stop cows from producing milk, says Hilmes. Could the electromagnetic waves kill birds? Yes, Hilmes concurs: “If they flew into electrical wires.”

Sounds somewhat reminiscent of arguments and questions I’ve heard about today’s technology.

Many of my classmates such as Danielle, Shannon, and Angela have examined potential reasons for the ‘decline in health’ within our society.  While they all make great, accurate assertions about the rise of dual working adult homes, or single parent homes, lack of unstructured play time, or amount of time outside for that matter, I’m still skeptical.

Technology certainly has impacted the way we live our lives, there’s no denying that. Our lives have evolved and changed throughout the years, and certainly over the last couple of decades – but people have had grandiose fears with the invention and introduction of many technological advances throughout history, and yet none of them have brought our lives to a screeching halt.

That being said, I limit my children’s screen time, I insist we spend time outside everyday (I mean if it’s not disgustingly cold out), and certainly if we aren’t able to be outside, we find ways to be active and interactive daily – no questions asked.  While I used to insist on making these things priorities in a quest to ‘achieve balance’, now I’m questioning if it is ‘balance’ I should be striving for?  Perhaps it is ‘common sense‘ which is a more apt linguistic phrase to adhere to -and I’ll save the reasons Kumishiro would disagree with me for another post…