The “Cracks”- Productivity Suites

After hearing this weeks presenters speak on productivity suites, I realized a few things…

  1. There are cracks that need to be filled in.
  2. There are pros and cons to everything.

Now, let me explain and ramble on about what I mean exactly. Productivity suites, like Microsoft Office, Google Workspace and Apple iWork (just to name a few), have their benefits for our students and prepare them for their future in the workplace. With productivity suites, students are able to be creative! They can make and design their own presentations to share with their colleges in the workplace. Using productivity suites allows for students to collaborate with each other and foster team work. Technology is an ongoing thing. It is not going away anytime soon. The more we teach our students HOW to use technology and how to manage different productivity suites, the better prepared they will be for their futures. I wish that I had these opportunities when I was in school, because then I would feel more prepared and advanced when it came to working through spreadsheets, presentations, etc., as I think that many of us had to teach ourselves how to navigate these platforms.

So, yes. There are benefits to productivity suites and they play a role in digital literacy. They are valuable tools in both school and workplace settings. For example, I use Microsoft Office daily as I create and share my lesson plans. I use spreadsheets to help with me class lists, staying organized, assessment…the list goes on and on.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

However, there are “cracks” or gaps to fill as well. Not everyone will find these benefits in productivity suites. I believe, especially after engaging with last weeks discussion, that privacy and affordability are the two biggest cracks/gaps.

Who is paying for these fees? What about the upgrades? What about the devices themselves? Not every school board has the funds to cough up money for these things. Are we, as teachers, properly trained to help guide students through using productivity suites in a safe and beneficial way? I for one, don’t think I would confidently say that I am.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I think as educators, we need to think about how to fill in these “cracks,” before we get too excited about going forward with using the new productivity suites on the market. We need to be mindful of all of our students and think about benefits vs. downfalls.

Thanks, “Sesame Street”…

  • Postman wrote: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” In a blog post, unpack the implications of this quote, particularly the idea that Sesame Street undermines traditional schooling. What does Postman mean here, and how might we extend this idea to the broader effects of AV technologies in schools, from the earliest AV technologies all the way up to the current culture of smartphones and the push towards BYOD and the integration of smartphones in classrooms? What are the grander implications of the array of AV technologies, from film projectors to apps and interactive educational shows to personalized devices and tools like YouTube (Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc), when we think about the format of schooling? How do AV technologies change the way we might think about school? You should tie in tonight’s student presentation as well as the readings provided by the group where possible.

In this post, I will be unpacking the above blog prompt.

There is no doubt that audio visual technologies do enhance education in certain aspects. They make it more fun, engaging, and interactive. The presentation from this week definitely showed us that! We did break out spaces, watched videos, and were put into groups to answer questions using pictures and GIFs. By allowing our students to participate in activities like these ones mentioned, and by using more audio visual tech in our classrooms, we engage our students and peak their interests. However, will this go “too far?” Are there some negative outcomes because of all the use of audio visual technology to make learning “fun”?

Photo by Matthis Volquardsen on Pexels.com

I believe that Neil Postman’s quote reflects the fact that we are constantly trying to “entertain” our learners/students as teachers. Although I believe that AV tech can be very beneficial (as mentioned above), I also agree that it can make things harder for us as educators. Shows like Sesame Street portray school and education as always being engaging, fun and interactive. Whereas traditional schooling involves levels of discipline, structure and focus. This can be a downfall for students who come to school with this image in their head. Not ALL learning is fun! This is true. I loved certain aspects and activities in school, but I also disliked some and found some lessons “boring.” This is also the reality of life and work in general.

Many of our learners come into our classrooms today with lots of exposure to AV technology, such as televisions, smart phones, iPad’s and tablets. I hear of people saying they don’t want to raise an “iPad kid,” for this very reason. When children have no limit on screen time, and always need to have AV tech in front of them to stay engaged, it makes our jobs as parents and educators harder to keep them focused and learn. Teachers have become entertainers on top of all the other “hats” we wear on a daily basis, just to allow our students to stay engaged and learn something from our lessons.

There is a big push on “bring your own device” to school. I teach Pre-K, so this does not really affect me as much as teachers who teach middle-high schoolers. However, I cant help but think about those who come from lower-income households. Where does this technology come from for them? Do they then get the same education as other students who come to school with the newest smart phones and technology to enhance their education? How do we, as educators, know that our students are using their technology devices to enhance their education? How do we know that they are not cheating or distracted? This also ties in to our previous discussion from the last couple of weeks. Using audio visual technology in classrooms also has implications on the teachers, who now need to teach students exactly how to use these devices to benefit their learning (which websites to access, how to protect their privacy, what could be dangerous, etc.)

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

In conclusion, AV tech enhances education in many ways, but it also continues to have it’s downfalls and brings up a lot of questions that many do not have the answers to. There are definitely grander implications to AV technology integrated into our schools and classrooms and we continue to unpack these as educators.

Our students are smart!

Every single one of the students in our classrooms are smart and capable. I think that one of the hardest parts of my job (as an educator) is to find out what works for all of my students, to encourage them to do the best they can.

As we talked about in this week’s discussion, learning brings change! There are different ways of learning and different theories. Personally, I have learned about these theories before, but never really dove into what they mean for us, in the classroom setting. For example, Katia used the example of Class Dojo being apart of the Behaviorism theory of learning. When I first started teaching, I actually used Class Dojo with my students. However, after awhile I realized that it seemed to be making those behaviours worse. In learning theories like Behaviorism, you are either right or you are wrong, just like Skinner’s Teaching Machine. Yet, I found that there are other (less demeaning) ways of classroom management.

Again, as we talked about in class, I think that the majority of teachers, myself included, fall under the Constructivism learning theory. I believe that all of our kiddos come to us with some sort of understanding and knowledge and it is our job to build on that. The most beneficial learning that I did throughout my university experience as an undergrad student, was my pre-internship and my internship. To be in the classroom, watching other teachers, and actually able to learn from role models, helped shape who I am as a teacher today. I do believe, however, that a lot of us (teachers) and our education system continues to function with a “mix” of all of the learning theories (ie: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism), and that is not a bad thing!

I mentioned how I shifted my thinking about strategies such as Class Dojo, but I do also believe we need to shift our mindset away from “one size fits all” approach. When we think of Cognitivism learning theory, we think Piaget Stages of Development. This is where the “putting students in the same grade level based off their age”, can be a downfall. This is a bigger issue, but I think that less of our students would “fall through the cracks” if we chose to follow a more Constructivism approach, because as teachers we know that our students are diverse. They learn differently, they come to us from different backgrounds and they have their own strengths and also weaknesses.

I am by no means a perfect teacher, but I hope to continue these learnings to better understand my own management skills, and how I can construct my classroom to benefit my learners.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Pexels.com

Am I A “Tech Savvy” Teacher?

If I’m being honest, I am the furthest thing from “tech savvy.” Weird, right? A Gen Z who isn’t tech savvy?! A friend of mine took this class before and told me that we had to create our own blogs, post, and comment on others work. As you can imagine, this freaked me right out. I have never really been the teacher to use much “technology” in the classroom (or so I initially thought…)

When I first thought of educational technology, I thought of things like Zoom, Google Classroom, and Twitter. Covid forced a lot of us (educators) to use these platforms to teach our students and come out of our comfort zones (this definitely caused some stress for me, but I survived!) However, after our discussion last week, I came to realize that educational technology technically could be anything! This obviously depends where you are in history (ie: a chalkboard or pencil would have been considered technology back in the day…so, I guess I would’ve thrived as a teacher back in the 1800’s).

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Anyways, educational technology is basically using our knowledge and applying it to ways that fit our enviornment. It is changing our enviornment to benefit/help us succeed. As Katia mentioned last class, earthquake proof walls are considered technology! Humans are using their knowledge to build and create things to benefit them. I realize that I do use many forms of educational technology daily in my classroom. Part of my job is to figure out what would benefit my students/parents, and using it to their advantage (ie: iPad’s, Edsby, projector screens, etc.) These help with communication, visuals, entertainment and learning! Educational technology can come with challenges, but also rewards. I am sure this will be something that I will further explore.

Well, I hope I created this all correctly and I hope that I continue to strengthen my technology skills and learn lots in the coming weeks. Thank you for reading my FIRST blog post!

Erin