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 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.


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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To Teach or to Google That is the Question

This week in my ECI 830 class we had two more amazing debates. The first one raised the question about what do students need to know vs. why not just google it. Do students really need to retain different information teachers ask them to or can they just rely simply on technology to access that knowledge for them?

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The two sides gave very valid points and supported their points with some fantastic information. I want to discuss two of them. The first article is by Terry Heicks How Google Impacts the Way Students Think. This article suggests that the fact that any question that can be asked can simply be googled is not a good thing. Google is changing the way students think by giving the myth of accessibility. When we have a question we all to often “google it” and Voila answer appears sometimes even before we hit the enter key. But, what happens when google doesn’t give us the answer we want or doesn’t have the answer at all? What happens when after our first search nothing appears? What if google brings up a non-creditable website and the answer given is wrong?



Many people simply stop looking. There are many answers that google can teach us but, not all. This is important for all students to know. Hiecks also discusses how once we find an answer on google we stop the search. We are programming students brains to find the answer to the initial question, then to stop. Teachers should be encouraging inquiry, to build on the curiosity of students. In one video  about the internet changing us, it even goes as far to say that Google is becoming a humans external hard drive. No need to keep anything memorized because it is all available with a few touches of ones fingers. There is no reason to be curious about anything, after we can find  “all the answers” whenever we choose. Is this detrimental to our brain development? Are we really teaching students to simply google everything and store nothing in their own heads? Or is this just evaluation in a new form? 

I think that it is important to teach skills that students will need to be “successful” (whatever that means) in life. I think that one key skill is how to google things. Students should be taught how to research different topics about themselves and the world around them. If they cannot use the technology at their fingertips how are they going to achieve their goals? I think it is important to also teach students to critically think about what information they are taking in, where it is being accessed from, and what the use of that information. But to do this there are many skills a student needs to know first and needs to know well. Teaching students to a mastery level in things like reading and math can make accessing google more meaningful and insightful. If for example, ones reading level is lower than critically analyzing the information they are accessing from google is going to be very difficult. Not all websites can be read by the computer aloud. The mastery of this basic information can also be beneficial. An article by William R. Klemm Memorization is not a Dirty Word. Goes as far to tell us that if we can achieve this automaticity or mastery it can actually grow our brains into taking in more information. But again what do students really need to know?

This leads me to think back to my ECI 831 class I took last semester where we discussed the difference between knowledgeable vs. knowledge-able.


This debate really challenged my thinking on what I am teaching my students. Is that something they need to know? Do I have a choice in what I teach my students? Or can I simply teach them the curriculum in a way that teaches them skills for life?

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EdTech Changing Conversations

This past Tuesday I took part in a debate. The main debate question was “Does technology enhance our learning?” Well being in an ed tech class I want to agree, but I was challenged with the task of arguing that it does not. To begin I struggled what points are my team and I could even going to stand on? Everyone knows our world is becoming more technological everyday. As a team we decided to meet up and get things started.

I was so thrilled with my teammates  Chalyn and Steve. They came in with a game plan and I thought I would take it to the next level. Instead of using some technology we decided to simply argue our points. We decided that our best bet to win this debate would be to argue that the way technology is being used in classrooms today is not enhancing student learning.

  1. Teachers need more training to know how to use the technology better
  2. The cost is significant
  3. Technology is almost impossible to monitor

So with these we went into our debate. The other team consisting or Erin, Jeremy and Kyle  did awesome as well. Take a peek at their opening argument.

Throughout the debate I was full of anxiety. It was very difficult to balance listening, taking notes, messaging team mates, creating a rebuttal, and changing the closing argument. With all this on everyone’s plate I feel the debate went surprisingly well. I want to thank everyone who worked hard to put it together.

Now for what I have learned. This experience has challenged me to use tech in efficient and effective ways. I feel I am guilty of using tech as a “time filler” on occasion. I feel that some of my practices are not enhancing my students’ learning as much as they could. That was one of the reasons I love the Ed Tech classes that the University of Regina offers. I feel every semester I learn a better way to prepare my students for a future while, they get to enjoy being kids.

This week I enjoyed reading many things about the pros and cons of tech. I especially loved a colleagues blog, The Never Ending EdTech Debate.  He discusses the perfect movements when tech goes wrong, the importance of teacher training, how tech can be a distraction, and how we can use tech to prepare our students for the future. One of his closing points mentions that tech can be a huge enhancement to student learning but, can also be a huge distraction. I completely agree with this.

Life in north american society is always pressuring people to multitask in better ways. The technology that many of us have access to allows us to check emails, listen to music, search up something on the internet all while staying continually connected to social media. Is this a good thing? Are we slowly forgetting how to give our full attention to one thing or one person? While doing my research this week I came across a Ted Talk by Sherry Turkle. I felt it fit into our debate but, we did not have the time to go into length. So I thought I would share it now.

Do you think we are losing the ability to have meaningful conversation? Does this lead to not being able to not have meaningful conversations with ourselves? Will we be able to self reflect? Is this a good or bad thing?

Sherry has really challenged my thinking about how technology is changing our world. I have a need to ensure my students are learning both the technologies that could help them and how to connect with people on a deeper level. What do you think?

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EdTech Round 2

I just began my second graduate ed tech class with Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrant. This class seems to be set up a bit differently. Last class I was able to build a PLN (Personal Learning Network) and explore many online issue facing our society. In this class it seems we will enter a debaters paradise and be arguing about ed tech in the classroom. Since the last class my teaching style has changed. My students are on technology much more often. Whether that is typing their written assignments on google doc and sharing them, learning how to send and receive and email, participating in a Kahoot or beginning to research different questions they have. But am I using technology in the best way? Am I really enhancing my students learning?  Lucky me I volunteered to be part of the first debate. So I figured I would pose a question to you. Do you feel the way technology is being used in classrooms right now is enhancing student learning? I get to argue no.


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But we will save that for Tuesday. I have never taken part in a formal debate, but I’m sure it will go over just as well as the ones I see on TV.

As for the rest of the class I am very excited. I cannot wait discuss technology in the classroom. After all many people say that technology is the future. According to this future timeline it is very much true. But are we preparing students in the best way for this tech future? I cannot wait to argue and debate over many edtech issues.

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