Summary of Learning EDTC 400

Below is my summary of learning! It’s been a great semester and I’ve learned so much! Thanks to everyone involved!

One last time, thanks for reading, er… watching,

Cody

 

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Mentor Experience

Feedback through solely online means is definitely a challenge.

What should I focus on?

How much is too much?

What isn’t enough?

Will they even understand what I mean?

Will they understand my context?

These questions, and more, run through my mind every time I go to give feedback to my mentees, though I think I did a good job of illustrating what I was trying to say in each situation.

Saying that, I sure hope my mentees aren’t fed up with me!

GIF Credit: Tenor.com

Challenges:

The most challenging part of this was the lack of being face to face with my mentee. It’s a weird feeling being able to see them doing their work from afar and not being able to have a casual conversation with them about it. The feedback felt less like an open dialogue and more like a sterile environment. Though, perhaps that’s just the way I went about it. Because of the nature of the class, I targeted my feedback to be short, to the point, and sandwiched, or at least, sandwich like – here’s what was good, here’s what wasn’t so good, here’s something else that was good. That’s usually where it was left too. It was difficult to gauge how seriously my mentees took my feedback because it wasn’t directly responded to, either. In a regular class, I am able to tell right away how the student is going to take what I said and a natural feedback loop can be established. I’m able to physically show what I want, or verbally explain in a different way, or touch base with the student throughout the period, day, week, or year. In this case, feedback was very scheduled, which felt weirdly delicate to me. This is an area that I would love to practice more, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if online courses for younger students started to trend during my career.

Rewarding parts:

It was fun seeing my mentees posts go from regular old blogs to engaging virtual explorations. This certainly isn’t my own doing, though. Throughout their EDTC300 experience, they learned the foundation of blogging online and practiced their skills to create sites that were easy to navigate and included posts that were well crafted. By the end I was able to see each student’s personality shine through their blog posts, which I think is the point.

What I learned about myself:

My biggest epiphany was that I really believe in the idea of the growth mindset. I approach teaching and feedback this way. I have no desire to give you all the answers, not that I know them all, and I have no desire for you to mindlessly do everything I say. What I do care about is giving you a resource, being myself, so that you have access to the tools to develop your understanding and your skills. And like I mentioned before, I think this gives students the freedom to express themselves in their own way.

Again, it wasn’t all me, but I saw growth in the students that I was keeping an eye on.  I was able to see Kaitlyn take chances using hyperlinks and pictures, I saw Sarah using a lot of colour, pictures, and aspects of her life, and Courtney develop her creativity in the way she wrote and titled her blogs! It’s not all about “do this – here’s your grade,” which I think these EDTC classes help illustrate. I believe in developing skills for the future, which is exactly what I think happened all around!

Thanks for reading,

Cody

My Mentor Comments (For Katia)

 

“I’m Neutral.”

“I’m neutral” is probably a statement that’s been said by many educators at some point in their career. It makes perfect sense to say and believe. It also makes perfect sense to say that you like to teach both sides and let the students decide. But from what I can tell, there’s a fine line between being neutral and just going with the status quo.

This was the subject of EDTC 400’s final debate. It was a good one, like always, and really got you thinking in different ways. It was also led by Jesse and Daniel, who both did an excellent job of not staying neutral!

*Ba Dum Tss*

GIF Credit: Tenor.com

Jesse’s Side:

The resources that Jesse used did an excellent job of reinforcing where he was coming from and drove home the point as to why staying neutral is ineffective when you’re in an educator role. Simply put: education is political by nature. It’s the teachers responsibility to make sure that students are exposed to the things that have and are happening in our world. Subjects that should be included are elections, race, gender, fake news, trends, etc. Using these topics is also a great vehicle for students to develop their skills in digital citizenship and digital literacy. Get online, see what people are saying, figure out what’s real, what’s the truth, and what’s just wrong. These are lifelong skills that are so important in today’s age.

Daniel’s Side:

Daniel’s side seemed to offer a different definition for what ‘neutral’ meant as an educator. From what I’ve gathered, being neutral was not the fear or absence of talking about tough subjects in class, but allowing students to question and explore, instead of saying “no, this is the way it is.” It’s offering students a different perspective when they need it. “Well, have you thought about this? No? Well, do some more research!” So, in this regard, I’d say that both Daniel’s and Jesse’s sides are saying the same thing, which is have your students practice essential life skills!

But there is one aspect of Daniel’s side that speaks volumes about the responsibility of teachers, which is to not force your students to your side.

“But what if one side is completely wrong?”

Yes, you’re correct. If there’s a topic that comes up where one side is just, straight up, wrong, then by all means, shut it down! Just like the example of the flat earth movement.

Picture Credit: Braincharm.com

Like… What?

But, just like the example of a 3rd grade teacher organizing a pipeline protest, you need not take it too far. Talk about it, yes. Have students research it, yes. Perhaps even come to a class consensus, yes. But forcing 8 year olds to protest something that they may have a hard time even grasping is irresponsible in itself – but I digress.

Were my classmates neutral? Here’s the results:

Pre-Debate

Post-Debate

As if it’s a surprise anymore, I think that the general consensus is that there needs to be a balance. Most importantly, teachers need to provide the opportunity for their classes to develop skills in finding information, being able to synthesize it, and weigh it against everything else that they see, hear, and feel. I think that it would be a great disservice if teachers were to shy away completely from conversations that challenge their students’ critical thinking skills. Students will need to be able to think for themselves one day; therefore, they need to practice. Help them practice.

Thanks for reading,

Cody

 

Are We Too Dependent on Technology?

It depends on the way you look at it, I suppose. Are you optimistic or are you pessimistic? Well, there’s your answer.

This week’s debate was led Jayden and Kiera. As always, here’s where our class stood before the start of the debate:

I agreed with the statement, though not wholeheartedly. I’ve even written about the ways I think people overuse it here. We’ll touch on this at the end…

Jayden’s side looked as such:

Jayden’s resources really drove home the notion that people have become over dependent on controlling exactly the amount of interaction people want in their lives. Social media has become so popular because it allows the user to be physically alone, while being digitally connected. Every interaction now has the ability to be premeditated and meticulously crafted to display exactly what is meant by the user.

Furthermore, because of the over reliance on handheld devices, people are losing real life skills at an alarming rate. Forget physically talking to someone or looking them in the eye. Why would I want to do that? With my phone, I can talk to anyone at anytime without the risk of ever looking foolish! Why do I have to leave my house? I’ll just order my groceries online. Why carry around a map? I have a built in GPS on my iPhone! Not to worry, I have everything I need, right here! But what happens when you no longer have access to your only resource?

In other words, this is you without your phone…

Gif Credit: Tenor

Lastly, and perhaps the most serious symptom of an over reliance of devices and social media, is the need to document every moment of one’s life. What happened to being in the moment? Why does your Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram page need to be updated while your 2 year old niece is blowing out her birthday candles? Why do you need to be updating your Snapchat story while you’re at dinner with literally all the people on your Snapchat list? Just look up! Experience it.

Video Credit: Miles Crawford

Here’s what Kiera had to say:

Kiera came from a side of unity. On an individual level, technology gives people the freedom to interact with loved ones when they otherwise can’t. Technology has made it possible for the hard working, seemingly never home, but loving father to say good night to his wife and young kids. It’s allowed a soldier to develop a relationship with his child. It allows people to occupy a space that they physically cannot.

Additionally, technology can be a platform to receive help when there are no other options. It could be what saves someone from domestic violence, suicide, or harm. Furthermore, this method of help can also give researchers the valuable data they need to be reactive and stop bad situations before they even happen.

Lastly, on a global scale, technology and social media can be a vehicle for societal change. Hashtags and filters can be the spark to both circulate information and unite large scale groups to take a stand, walk out, and raise funds in the interest of a better world and a better life.

One word: Powerful.

Here’s how the second vote turned out:

Weirdly enough, the agreeing side gained some voters. I happily changed my vote to disagreeing.

Here’s Why:

While I certainly disagree with the way that people live through their social media, I cannot deny how powerful technology can be. Let’s forget about the way people bury themselves in their phones at social gatherings for a minute. After all, that topic has been beaten to death. After watching the Ted Talk about the crisis text hotline or seeing the amount of money that can be raised with a simple hashtag, I think it would be naive to say we need to go back in time. Yes, there are people who abuse it, just like there are people who abuse everything. It’s just too valuable to throw away when it’s done right.

Just like we mentioned in class, there needs to be balance. Put your phone away while your at the dinner table, keep it in your pocket while your out for a walk. But when you know you can be a part of a difference, don’t be afraid to use it!

Thanks for reading,

Cody

 

 

Public Education Has Sold its Soul to Corporate Interests

It’s hard to argue with that statement. Especially when there is so much information out there in support of it. Nonetheless, this was the topic of discussion on Tuesday March 19th, 2019 in EDTC 400.

Liz and Shaleen took the leading roles in what seemed to be the most one sided debate yet! Not to say that Shaleen did a bad job, quite the contrary, actually. She just stood in a very tough spot!

First off, here’s where the class stood on the matter:

 

Pretty even… Don’t worry, that’s about to change!

Liz’s Side:

Liz came well prepared with a number of arguments of strong arguments that were backed with research. First off, the subject of creating workers that possessed the specific skills that companies wanted was a theme that carried on throughout. Providing students with funding and access to technology that enhances skills in science, technology, and math (STEM) is of high interest to companies looking to hire workers with those specifically developed skills. On the surface, it appears to be a win-win for both parties because one, the students get access to lots of new and expensive resources, and two, training for future workers starts well before students join the workforce.

Additionally, companies like Google offer software like Google Suite for ‘free’, which is used by millions of teachers. Why not? It’s a great platform that makes our jobs so much easier and organized. Though, what so many people forget is that Google can, and has, taken the data of everything that students and teachers do with that software and use it for profit without their knowledge. Selfish? Opportunistic? Manipulative? Idealistic? You decide.

Next, the idea of companies like Pearson profiting billions of dollars from the distribution of their standardized testing came up. Just check out the video below that discusses the ways in which Pearson rakes in cash every year from their testing and how it effects students psyche.

Video Credit: BlazeTV

Lastly, we discussed a topic that, as a millennial, I feel on such a deep level. Treading lightly here, the words ‘greed’ and ‘university’ could probably be synonymous for a large portion of society. But it wasn’t always that way. This article explains that going to university used to be quite cheap and was viewed as a way that attendees were developing society for the greater good. Though, since the 1960s, societies viewpoint shifted into believing that university students were gaining a higher education to give themselves an advantage over the less educated. As a result, tuition raised which fundamentally meant people put themselves into massive amounts of debt to put themselves through a post secondary education. Whats more? Universities began an arms race to make sure that their campus was the best campus, leading to the purchase of the newest cutting edge technology, experts, etc. So what follows? Higher tuition costs.. After that? Student loans.. And the cycle continues…

Here’s where Shaleen made her stand:

Shaleen had brought up the point that we have become reliant on technology as a society. As a result, schools need to be equipped with such so that students can develop their skills in that area. As a result, there are many initiatives that are brought to the attention of teachers. This means that funding options for resources is not so black and white. Schools don’t need to choose the first option that comes along. Teachers and the school administrations have multiple options. Therefore, they can ask themselves the proper questions and weigh each option to make sure they choose the most appropriate route. Questions asked will include: Is this what my students need? Is this user friendly? Do the service providers have my best interest at mind? Etc. Additionally, Shaleen mentioned that, due to the ever rising supports that schools can receive, schools are stepping away from large corporations, like the state of New York and their relationship with Pearson, and choosing companies that have their best interest at mind.

A great counter, but it just wasn’t enough. Here are the results of our final vote:

From the rhetoric of this article, I’m sure you can guess where I stand right now. I have a hard time believing that schools wouldn’t, or don’t, take the funding when it is offered. The argument could be made that Canada is not as bad as the US for teaching to a standardized test though, the vast majority of teachers I’ve met are using Google Suite in their classrooms right now.

Furthermore, I feel there is a big problem in universities right now. From a young age I’ve felt the pressure to get into university and make sure that I am a graduate. After all, this leads to a great life with excellent pay, right? This is not to say that I don’t believe in higher education, of course I do! But the cost to get it is unbelievable these days, meaning students are put into huge debt before they even get started in life. But it’s necessary if you want to get your foot in the door, for most professions. Perhaps this is a discussion for a different day, though.

Thanks for reading,

Cody

 

 

“Back in my day…”

Imagine that it’s summer, 1970-something. It’s late morning and you’ve just woken up to the sound of your friends knocking on your door. You grab your bike and tag along with your friends to go do god-knows-what until you arrive back home for dinner that night. The day was filled with stories that will keep you and your friends laughing about for years to come. “Remember that time we almost died?” “Remember going to the Dairy Bar everyday for lunch?” “Remember that time we went canoeing and came back to absolutely furious parents?” Life was so much simpler back then.

Fun fact: I have a story for each quote, only difference is each took place around 2007!

No photo description available.

Summer 2011 with friends! I’m on the far right.

I’d have to say, even I’m guilty of talking about my childhood and adolescent years as though they were much better than the way children spend their time today. I couldn’t even help adding the picture above… It’s tough to look back at those times and not make the comparison. Am I looking through rose tinted glasses? Or maybe it actually was better. This was the EDTC 400 debate for this week.

More specifically, the topic of discussion was about the role of social media ruining childhood. Here’s what my class thought:

Almost 50-50, though there was slight bias toward agreeing with the statement. Here’s where Lauren and Kylie came in as our debate leaders.

Lauren argued that Social media is ruining childhood. Her main arguments were as follows:

  1. Social media is is forcing children to grow up quicker as it over-sexualizes every component of life, making children and teenagers think that this is the norm and should be adhered to.
  2. Social media is often used as a platform for people to play a role to show how truly amazing their lives are. Apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook provide easy access to these people and heavy usage of these apps have been linked to depression among young people.
  3. Social media allows for “faceless communication” which makes it easier for people to do and say things that they would never do or say in a face-to-face situation. Furthermore, since social media and technology tends to be very entertaining, staying inside and spending time on is the choice that many choose to make. Ultimately, this leads to less time face-to-face with parents, friends, and others which can lead to a lack of social skills that would have been developed through normal social interaction.

To combat these statements, Kylie had the following to say:

  1. Social media can give young people a powerful voice that can lead to social change. Through the use of social media there has been support for many social movements, one recent being a global school walk out for climate change.
  2. Social media platforms can also give young people a sense of belonging and community. Perhaps older generations can remember a point where they had an interest that no one else seemed to have around them. Perhaps a digital community would have made them feel more comfortable about their interests.
  3. Social media is a platform that allows for creativity, collaboration expression. Whether it be learning a new skill through YouTube, creating or communication through the use of a hashtag, or developing a Professional Learning Network (PLN) for the future, social media can be used as a powerful tool for the development of young people.

About an hour of back-and-forth and our class landed here:

Most disagreed by the end. Still, there was a lot of support on both sides. Furthermore, I’m actually happy that I found myself changing from agreeing to disagreeing, as I am usually all for technology in most cases. Some things I am still concerned about is the fact that social media plays such a role in children’s lives, and in such unhealthy ways. I’d rather see my future children put their cellphone down during the day and play outside; not worry about their Snapchat streak or posting that perfect summertime selfie. But on the flip side I still view technology to be such a powerful learning tool that it would be hard for me to take it away forever. Perhaps there is a balance that I would need to initiate. Fortunately, as a teacher, I’ll have time during my summers to be a father and model the behaviours I’d like to see from my future children. They can still be exposed to the best parts of the old days, while still enjoying the best parts of the contemporary ones.

Over optimistic? Naive? Spot on? We’ll see.

Technology is a force for equity!

What a statement! One that I find hard to disagree with. Our debate on Tuesday night helped shed some light on the reasons as to why the use of technology may also be inequitable.

To start though, here is where the edtech 400 class stood on the matter:

Again, I found myself surprised by the result. I always seem to have the unpopular opinion!

This weeks debaters were Ryan and Kaytlyn. Ryan, being the first to speak and the one agreeing with the statement, provided the following arguments:

  1. Technology is spreading throughout the world and there are movements to put technology into the hands of students who are not privileged enough to access it by their own means. What was found is that the students used their technology as a learning resource and it was supplemental when it came to their learning outside of school, effectively giving them the freedom to learn 24 hours a day, not just 6.
  2. The same article mentions the potential for mobile devices to be a huge motivational factor when it comes to developing literacy skills in students. It’s explained that the spontaneity and rapid nature of text messaging is “the single most important factor in increasing literacy on the planet. Why? Every child is massively motivated to learn to text, post and message on mobiles. The evidence shows that they become obsessive readers and writers through mobile devices.”
  3. Technology can be a great force for equity for people with disabilities. The multitude of software that exists and is being developed can, and does, help people in just the ways that they need. The use of technology helps ‘bridge the gap’ and allows for advancement of curricula that is “born accessible” “rather than born for paper delivery.” One big example that Ryan used was the story of Stephen Hawking and the technology that was developed so that he could speak, despite battling ALS throughout much of his life.

All of these points are very powerful and make a great case for equity in society. Though, Kaytlyn had an equally convincing rebuttal. Here is what she had to say:

  1. Students without internet access at home are at a huge disadvantage because their learning starts and ends during schools hours. To double that up, the students who do have internet access at home are free to continue their studies anytime they want which creates a huge divide among them and their peers.
  2. There is a certain amount of money that needs to be spent in order to have your child be on a level playing field with their peers. Who’s to say that every family can afford to send their child to school with a cellphone, Ipad, laptop, etc? If some form of handheld technology in the classroom is an unspoken requirement, the students who come from families of lower economic status are at a major disadvantage in that regard.
  3. This article introduces the idea of the ‘cargo cult‘ in which nations are brought goods from a modern society to help their underdeveloped nation. It also touches on the idea of technological colonialism and the thought that technology is what will raise society to our level. Perhaps the western ideology as it relates to technology is not the end all be all?

Amazing arguments by both parties! This was one of those debates where I’m more on the fence than I’m comfortable with. There are so many different aspects of the argument and it can’t be looked at as black and white.

Here is where the class stood at the end:

Not much of a surprise here. I think that this was another example of having good arguments for one side that can easily have holes poked in it. Not to take anything away from the debaters! You both did great!

Finally, here are my thoughts on the topic:

I can understand and appreciate that the money that needs to be invested in order for a student to own or have access to technology is expensive at best. It’s for this reason that I believe that technology should never be the base for learning, it should always be supplemental. Thinking as a teacher, I believe that students should have options and different routes for learning. If option A works for you, great. If option B works for you, great. And if option W works for you, great. This is why having multiple different resources in, around, and outside the classroom is so important. There needs to be multiple forms of instruction and learning, whether through experience, textbook, conversation, and yes technology. Meaning, technology is one of many routes a student can take and should not be dramatically overemphasized.

Furthermore, speaking in more of a societal ideology, I think it is an interesting thought that, with the access to a device and the internet, anyone can learn from the greatest minds in history. For example, I can go on to YouTube and listen to America’s greatest speeches, or I can watch a lecture from Harvard on computer science. Additionally, I can use websites like edX to take university level courses and even be recognized with a certificate for the completion of said course. The possibilities are truly endless here and the access to vast amounts of knowledge, more than anyone could ever fully comprehend, is at your fingertips. This is exciting to me! This is equity to me! And I know, the device and internet access cost money, but it costs far less than actually going to Harvard University. And yes, it is not perfect, and those who can actually go to Harvard and graduate will be in a much better position than those accessing free classes online. But what I’m saying is that at least people have the opportunity to learn to their heart’s desire.

With just a device and internet access you can learn anything that you want.

Thanks for reading,

Cody