Social vs. Anti Social Media

This week was bitter sweet. I particularly enjoy logging on every week for the #greatedtechdebate. It always makes me think. This week the debate was We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

Up until this debate, I was always about the idea of unplugging. I have always felt this was best for me. For me the idea of unplugging gives me the ability to step away from the hectic life I have chosen to lead and live in the moment.  I particularly liked Prince Ea in this video.

This made me want to unplug almost instantly. Can we not even have conversations anymore? Are we really making ourselves more lonely by relying on social media for self gratification?

But then I listened intently to the disagree side. There main point was in today’s world there is not point to unplugging. They challenged the idea about relationships online not being “real”. How often do we use technology to communicate with loved ones?  and what does unplugging really mean? Does that mean no social media or no electronics at all?

It really got me thinking about how much so many people rely on technology to connect with the people they care about most. If you are long distances away from friends or family we rely on social media to help us connect with the people closest too us. I know when I can have a conversation with a good friend or family it helps me de-stress and decompress. It really got me thinking is it even possible to unplug? How much of technology is ingrained in our lives? So much of technology is used in schools, homes, and work places can we really unplug?

Let me know what you think.

 

 

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So little time, So much learned

This semester has been quite enjoyable for me. I am a very competitive person so being able to engage in multiple debates really motivated me to internalize the topics. There were many points throughout this semester where what I thought about certain things was challenged.

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This was great because I had to re-evaluate my reasoning for believing such things. For example, I have always thought tech in classrooms was a great idea. How could anyone to challenge that? Well after I was forced to argue the side that said tech should not be in the classroom it opened my eyes to all the barriers teachers face like the cost, and training. I still do believe tech should be in classrooms but, I now have a more open view on how it should look. This was not the only week I had internal debates about what was right and wrong? If there was a right and wrong? If there needed to be a balance what does that look like? I feel like I often exited our classes Tuesday nights at 9pm questioning. What does that mean to me and what am I going to do about it? Thus I know this class has encouraged me to think more critically about technology issues and opportunities in education. Take a look at my summary of learning.

Creating this summary of learning with Chalyn Smith was not as simple as it look. Last semester we tried using an Nawmal video, which was successful after many barriers. This was not as simple as we hoped either. There were a few ups and downs. Notice how the music cuts out half way through. We tried and tried but could not figure out how to make it loop. If you know please comment below.  I want to thank everyone for their help in challenging me this semester to think about the issues of technology in education differently.

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Corporations Power in Education?

This past weeks debate was about corporations being involved in education. As teachers we all know it takes money to teach students. The pressure to have resources to teach is incredible. Teachers often invest their own money on: learning resources, self regulation tool, and rewards. Many people believe that teachers should be reimbursed for the money they put in or that teachers should not be spending their own money on these things. If we look at the Saskatchewan budget we see that there is no extra money in the budget to help teachers with resources. Let alone even to pay their agreed upon wages. So corporations have offered a helping hand. For example Coke made a deal with a school, “Coca-Cola paid the district $4 million upfront and an additional $350,000 a year to sell its beverages in schools. The annual payments have funded field trips, gym uniforms, SMART Boards and other frills that individual school budgets may not otherwise have afforded.”

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As great as the funding is to be able to afford smart boards, field trips, gym uniforms, etc. Is it worth exposing students to more advertising of unhealthy foods? Coke saw the benefit of being able to sell its beverages for 10 years!

So if we look at this deal on the surface it seems pretty good. Both goals of education and corporations are being met.  Steve points out “The goals of education are student learning and success, through a variety of means and factors. The goals of a corporation are, by definition, profit.” Schools are getting funding for student learning and success while large corporations like Coke are getting profits from the sales of goods in schools.

But how far can corporations take this?

I think Pearson has an outright monopoly in some cases over things like standardized test. Standardized tests are used in schools to collect data. Data that drives where money is distributed and to compare one school to another. So Pearson decided develop a test to ensure students are at grade level in grade 3. This is helpful for division offices so they can see where each of there schools are at and compare. But, Pearson gets paid for each student that takes the test. Throughout the years they have made up more and more tests and continually get paid.

This leads me to think that Pearson is now making decisions on what education is important for students to know. If funding and supports are based off of test scores Pearson really gets to decide what knowledge is important. Do we really want some corporation deciding what youth learn? Are we giving corporations too much control? Or is this our only option with the government cutting budgets?

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Can Tech help?

My last post on children and the inequalities they face, leads nicely into the topic of can technology help. I do not think it is possible for technology to overcome the huge oppression of many students, but I think it could help build those up and give opportunities to have a voice.

EdTech has many incredible possibilities when put in the right hands. JUSTIN REICH discusses in Open Educational Resources Expand Educational Inequalities that it is possible that low income students could grow academically using technology. Or Ed tech could provide growth the the other way and the privileged could grow and create and even larger gap than we see presently. Our society could go either way.

Even thought this potential to widen this already large gap is there. If we just look at all the positives we can see why Justin Reich is optimistic. Assistive Technology has helped all children no matter the sex, gender, ability or race.

RSLSteeper is just one company that could provide A.T. to help ones independence. Independence is crucial for many people. It allows one to have confidence and move forward for themselves or the group.  This is something everyone strives for. People feel more self worth with independence and ed tech can provide some of that. How could this look in classrooms? It can help those with disabilities become able and independent in their work like Mason in school.

 

When I look at ed tech I see a magnitude of opportunity, not just for students that are visually impaired  like Mason, but for all students. I think technology can help build equity in our society, even though it will never overcome it. I am excited to continue learning about all the amazing opportunities technology can provide my students and I because we all know how fast it is changing.

With this fast past world can we even imagine what this could look like in 10,20 or 30 years? If you have any ideas let me know.

 

 

 

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Ruining Childhood, is it Possible?

What is Childhood?

According to google childhood is “the state of being a child.” well what does that mean? During our debate this last week on “Technology is ruining childhood” the disagree side described childhood as dynamic and ever changing. I want to add to that definition by stating that it is different for everyone depending on your sex, race, gender (choice), ability and society you live in. On that note I asked.

 

Isn’t Childhood Already Ruined for some?

With all the inequalities in our society, every childhood experience is different. Some are oppressed and deal with poverty, abuse, etc. Things difficult things many other people have never and will never face.

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These were my first thoughts when looking the this debate. Next I question.

Is Technology Making it Any Better?

Technology cannot change the inequalities that exist in our society but, it can help build the up the students who have the opportunity to have access to technology. Dr. Steve Sider (Wilfrid Laurier University) & Dr. Kimberly Maich (Brock University) discuss how “A variety of programs and devices are available that support reading and writing fluency through the development of related skills – including organization, fine motor coordination, mobility and keyboarding – and, thus, independence.” Independence is a huge skill for many people. When people have independence they feel more self worth. This is a huge benefit to their lives.

Technology can make a huge difference in peoples lives, but only the ones privilege to access it. After questioning myself over this topic I have decided to be thankful for everything and everyone great in my life. I am very privileged.

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Sharing is Caring…is it online?

The topic of sharing online is a controversy that many people struggle with. How much to I put online? Is it fair to share kids pictures and work? People’s digital footprints are shaped by the different ways people answer these questions and more. These footprints are crucial to ones reputation. A blog on teachershub.com gives an interesting quote. “If you aren’t controlling who you are online, some else is or will.” Is this true? If we are make the choice not to share, are other people shaping our identities? For the amount of fake Facebook accounts, one could argue that this is totally true. The worst part about having a fake account online is that it does not go away. It will simply slid down the google feed the less people use it. Digital footprints are more like permanent tattoos argues Juan Enriquez. He discusses how are permanent, immortal and including lots of data.

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Credited to Tattoo Easily

So is leaving our mark a good thing? All of our data we put out online, will be accessible always. That is a whole lot of data when we consider our youth are being posted online even as they experience their first days in this world. All of their lives are uploaded. Is this a good thing? Will this affect our children’s future? This could be argued either way. I think we need to look at what the kid wants and use that not so common “common sense”. Posting videos of temper tantrums of your kids could be detrimental to them in their futures but, positive things could help market them to peers or future employers. It goes back to taking control of your digital foot print. Some students find sharing there work motivating. The public audience pushes them to achieve more and be better. Even young children are excited to share online!

 

So is sharing photos and work really caring? Is it a positive thing that we can watch our youth grow and change online? Is there anything we can do about it?

 

 

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Technology and Obesity Truly linked?

Many people have asked the question “Is technology making us unhealthy?”

According to Elle Paula Author of Obesity in Children and Technology “About one-third of American children and teenagers are overweight or obese, making childhood obesity the leading health concern for parents in the United States.” She also goes on to state that the average child has about 7 hours a day of screen time (watching TV, searching the web, playing games, etc.). This screen time enhances sedentary behaviour, snacking and interferes with sleep. Because of the increase in these behaviours Paula believes that technology is linked to childhood obesity. Others like Lindsay Holms and Leah Borne go as far to say it is changing our brains and our bodies. They give examples like tech neck, head aches, low sperm count or the text claw. These are all things that were never issues in the past.

But wait, there is technology today that encourages people to be healthy in multiple ways. One could argue that there are many fitness apps and game councils designed to get people moving. Even many teachers are pulling up youtube videos or GoNoodles to take brain breaks in their classes. For example:

Kristina E. Hatch also says that technology is making us healthier socially as well. She discusses how technology like social media can widen our social circles “may act as a way for children to develop and sustain emotional bonds with peers, as well as carve their own identity.” This was not possible in the past. But there is a downside to the connection as well. The online bullying is a huge part of social well being too.

There are so many arguments about what is healthy and what is not. A person could argue for or against technology. But my position seems to sit right in the middle. How can I argue with the facts that screen time enhances sedentary behaviour or lack of sleep? Those are obviously unhealthy but, I feel like technology can also get us moving in many ways we were not before. I think the best way to find a middle ground is education. Teaching people what it means to be healthy and the benefits of it will allow people to use whatever technology or lack of technology they want in their lives. If we can teach people to be healthy then they can use technology to encourage their health. After all technology is not going anywhere. Whether you think it is so unhealthy everyone should where tin hats because of wifi or you think it is the next best thing, we need to recognize that we are going to need to learn how to be healthy with technology.

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So my next question is how can I use technology to teach my students to be healthier. I do use GoNoodle in my class for breaks and often use technology to teach about health but, do I use it to encourage health. I’m not sure. Are there more ways to use technology to get students active or communicating in positive ways? Let me know if you have any idea 🙂

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