It’s a no from me, Dawg.

So far the tools that I feel are the most useful are all the features of office suites and we have discussed this at length. If I was an online/remote/distance setting teacher, which I’m not, these would be relied upon so heavily by me. Without them I really don’t know how we would go about things. How do you hand in an assignment, wait… how do you even create something without some form of platform like a word/google doc/ or PowerPoint/slides? There are other parties that make systems, which I’m sure would have to be adopted if there isn’t access to a suite. I guess a student could always create something physically and then take a picture of something and email it in with a description, but does that do something justice?

If I had to move to becoming a digital teacher, I firmly believe that I could do it with or without video meetings. Ex. zoom, google meets, teams, etc. While I could just post everything on a google classroom or on EDSBY for the students to follow along on their own, would that really work? It may work in the university setting for some, it has been debated in a couple different group discussions I’ve been in for this class, but I think elementary students and high school students would definitely struggle/wouldn’t always be on the ball/honest with following along. Heck, I know myself when I had to do university classes in my undergrad, I certainly took advantage of the system and did the bare minimum. I passed, but is that what we want for our students?

The counter to this would be using a zoom, google meet, etc. but is this also always the best option. When it comes to forming some kind of meaningful connection with a student I think it is highly important. The ability to just discuss things in person takes so much of the extra background work, like emails and waiting on responses, out of the picture. While I’m confident I could get things done the other way, I just don’t think it is conducive to the best learning environment. As discussed with my peers, we don’t think zoom meetings are necessarily the best, but they are certainly better than nothing.

A challenge I might face is not being able to reach all my students. Technology issues/availability aside, it is hard to tell online if everyone is engaged in the learning material. In class I can tell if someone is not paying attention or having a bad day and can adjust. Digitally this is difficult, not impossible, but is still such a pain in the butt. Not everyone has camera’s, it may be harder to pick up facial cues on the tiny boxes that show their face, and some are less likely to ask questions in the moment and send messages/emails later, which creates extra work.

All the models and examples used by the group that presented were fantastic, but I would prefer to use them alongside teaching in person. Not only would I feel like my teaching and the students learning would suffer, but I feel like my overall happiness/satisfaction with teaching would completely deplete and I would move onto something else. During the height of COVID many of my colleagues would rant about the frustration of online teaching. Admittedly, many were ill-equipped to be able to do this. a lack of knowledge and experience were definite causes of this, but again like me, most of them just preferred to be with the kids. There are multiple resources given to us by the group, but I still don’t think this would fill this void. The tools would work, I have no doubt about it, but while they work I just don’t think I would be happy in the environment. This is based off the experience that I already have had with it during COVID and taking digital classes through the university.

This post was more a reflection on my own feelings, so apologies for a lack of any links. This was certainly a deep dive into my own relationship with long-term digital learning.

 

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You’re lucky I haven’t monetized my blog yet.

Reflecting on privacy and ethical considerations has been something that has been growing in my mind since researching productivity sweets. At the very core, it appears that there is a lot of good. Students and teachers have access to a variety of different platforms to help showcase learning and present it in new, fun, collaborative ways. On the other hand what do we give up for these services? Well, money is for sure one. When it comes to productivity sweets we discussed how it may seem like they are free to established “Educational” institutions, but that is for the barebones programs. How much the actually charge to these educational institutions is a mystery and seems to be locked up between the provider and the users. However, one thing is definitely known. These companies that own productivity suites, like Microsoft and Google, make a ton of money and what they do with that money/how they acquire some of that money may go against ethical practices.

To elaborate here are the links to how much the paid versions of these suites cost to the everyday person or small business owner:

Microsoft pricing

Google pricing

Charging for a service, such as having the ability to use suites, makes sense to most of us. We pay for something and receive a good or service. This is pretty standard. One of the areas I want to highlight is surrounding google and their main way of generating revenue: advertising. Below is an article explaining how Google makes money off advertising:

How Google’s $150 Billion Dollar Advertising Business Works

If you are using google suites in a school setting, you are also most likely using a Chromebook ( at least $200 a piece). If for any reason you send them online in a Chromebook (which the school has paid for) they will also most likely encounter advertisements when utilizing the technology, which then sends even more money Google’s way. This can be on the side margins of google searches, on websites, YouTube videos, etc. With enough use, the advertisements will start to reflect the interests searched (or interests assumed by someone with a similar search history). As discussed in my presentation, this has many different implications.

To begin, you can find the list here to see how Alphabet (Google’s parent-company) is spending some of its money. A form of ethics we need to consider is if a company is making a profit off of us, are we okay with how that company is spending its money? If a company is spending their money in a way we don’t agree with, many people boycott that company. In the case of productivity suites, like Microsoft and google, we don’t really have the option to. They are the dominant forces and are pretty much the standard in many institutions. Many seem to never dive into what those companies spend their money on, but would you be okay if they were donating to/paying money to something you didn’t agree with. In the grand scheme of things, if you are supporting them (google/microsoft) and they are supporting something you don’t agree with by funds, you are essentially saying this is okay. A bigger question one could ask is, do you know what most large scale companies (think grocery stores, amazon, etc.) are doing with our money?

A second ethical question is should Google or Microsoft be able to tailor specific advertisements to its users? This really puts the power of who is more likely to make profit to these big organizations. The more a business wants it’s product to have the likelihood of coming up on someone’s search, the more they pay a company like google. This doesn’t guarantee that their product will even show up though. Based off our data, Google makes itself a fortune, and gives a similar opportunity to others. This is all derived from us just utilizing the web. Should a company have that much power? What if they are endorsing advertisements for businesses that they themselves have questionable ethics in a variety of other fields? Many of the contracts signed with schools and productivity state that they will not store data, however targeted adds have still been derived and shows some kind of data-save or utilizing that data.  It is really hard for a school to really ever be able to tell if it’s info is being used or not.

Below is an article which also discusses how google doesn’t always have control over what advertisements pop up for people. Sometimes certain, inappropriate ads that violate their guidelines slip through. This causes even more ethical concerns as now content, which they say they won’t showcases, can be seen and make a profit for them, regardless of content.

Google in the Hot Seat

For the most part, I believe productivity suites are great for schools. There are endless possibilities that can be used through them. However, I feel that when we look at the good, we also need to look at the bad to see what we could potentially make even better or more equitable. Just because something is the way it is, and it may not negatively affect an individual, does not mean that it is the best way of going about things or is actually benefitting everyone. In many cases, it may be benefitting some disproportionally.

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1, ah ah, 2, ah ah, 3, ah ah (is that how you would type that?

Controversial take, I do not like the Muppets, which also results in me not really being a fan of Sesame Street. I don’t know what it is, but those little puppets (or in the case of Big Bird ABSOLUTELY GINORMOUS) always kind of freaked me out a little bit. Maybe that’s how the Postman feels. Like who actually sends Muppets mail? Just adding extra work to this person’s career.

*Edit: I have come to realize he is not a real Postman.

In all seriousness upon a little bit of research and diving into the subject matter it seems that Postman is getting at the idea that Sesame Street undermines education because of it being a television show that students can’t interact with. The quote the sticks out to me from a chapter review of his work states, “Televisions are not teachers—they cannot be asked questions, and they cannot hold conversations. Postman notes that no education is complete without this social element. If a child can read, write, and count, but cannot converse, question and socialize, then he or she is not properly educated”

I understand where he is coming from, but I also think it depends on the subject matter, depth of the topic, and general age range of the viewers. If I want to learn the alphabet from a bunch of Muppets, why can’t I? Do I really need to ask the deeper meaning like “Why does B come after A?” No I don’t think I really do. To me the purpose of Sesame Street is to help teach kids the basic fundamentals, which we can then build upon in school. I feel that most of the education in Sesame Street isn’t really trying to get you to ask the deeper questions, it is providing you the base information that you can then utilize when a child is ready. We can’t converse, question, and socialize if we don’t know how to read, write, and count. Without skill building you cannot apply. Or dare I use the world SCAFFOLDING.

*Insert me only thinking Sesame Street showcases basic stuff just to be hit with this video during my research

When we think of modern AV systems, I can see why Postman could potentially have similar beliefs. From the presentation last week the caricature of the teacher who relies on movies to do teaching might be the prime example of this. I don’t think showing film here and there is a bad thing, but if all you do is just play a movie and don’t do anything with it, this is where Postman would really have an issue. However, if you used it to either showcase some basic facts or present a situation related to learnings and then do something about it after, like a project, class discussion, further research, etc., I think this is where it could be quite helpful in the classroom. I teach in the secondary setting where students typically already possess the skills to be able to further breakdown a topic with discussion. We will watch something, but we do not leave it there. I have the students ask questions, provide reasoning for events happened, and allow for discussion. If we were to just rely on the AV presentations, this is where it could, in Postman’s eyes, undermine education.

To summarize the previous paragraph, AV technologies can be a tool to help someone along to a destination. If we always treat the AV representation like the destination, well this is where a lot could be left to be desired. We need to use it to go along with our deeper understanding. Not just have it be the understanding.

Khan Academy and Crash are tools that are great because they have been designed for anyone to access in the general public. The audience isn’t just directed at students. There is a generality behind it and it aims at presenting facts. To the everyday member of society this can be intriguing enough and maybe they bring it up to a coworker and say, “hey, you’ll never believe what I just learned about ancient Egypt” and maybe that sparks some kind of conversation. But the point of these videos is not to undermine education, it is to try and provide information (cough Education cough) to the general public. I don’t know if anybody should really be gate-keeping what is education and what isn’t in this scenario. Could someone further this learning by following it up with questions and research, sure, but it’s not really the point of these types of videos. However, we could use these videos in the class, as they are a solid foundation, and then go from them in a direction to increase deeper learning for our students. The videos aren’t inherently bad, it is just how we utilize them.

See below for one of my favourite Crash Courses:

 

 

 

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If I behave and work cognitively, can I construct something?

I don’t know where everyone comes from in this course, but I may be one of the few Educational Psychology peeps in the class. Hurray for electives! The understanding of how people learn has always been a curious subject to me as a teacher, grad student in this field, and as a coach. The two different worlds hold their various similarities and differences, but one of those similarities is that process of “attempting” to transfer knowledge to another so that they may be able to understand and apply it. The arguments over whether or not students learn best with behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism have been debated at length over the years.

The other night as a class it appeared we came to the conclusion that constructivism is the ideal choice for higher learning. It has students “constructing” their own knowledge. This can include things like inquiry, problem-based learning, reciprocal/group teaching (peer to peer) etc. Can we always do this? Boy I wish we could. However, where did the skills to be able to behave in class come from to be able to have them listen to instruction. Where did they develop the ability to organize and process the information the find in something like an inquiry project. I think before we get to constructivism we have to use the other two, behaviorism and cognitivism, as stepping stones to get there. This is what is currently influencing my teaching style as I have tried to jump straight to constructivism with my high schoolers, and it doesn’t always work out.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Depending on what age-level you are teaching, your students may not be developmentally ready for one learning theory vs. the other. Well, this also might not be technically true and I’ll elaborate on my thinking shortly here. However, if you are teaching early years, for ex. kindergarten, there will most likely be a lot more behaviorism methods used, as you are literally teaching tiny humans how to act socially and what is appropriate and not appropriate. Again, quite literally behaviorism. As for the the other methods I still think something like constructivism could be utilized at the younger age, as mentioned earlier. When I was in the 3rd grade I missed a day of school and missed learning how to divide. Instead of my teacher pulling me aside, she got another student who had it locked down teach me in the hallway quick as my teacher was busy with the others. My 8 year-old peer was able to teach me and demonstrate constructivism even at this young age.

What I think I’m trying to get at is in my mind is that I label early-year learners as having more behaviorism based theories, middle-years as having more cognitive based theories (organizing info, beginning to understand systems, etc) and secondary-based learning as operating more in the constructivism theory. In terms of progression, this makes sense to me. Learn how to act in the world, learn how to process info, use these two to work with new knowledge. However, as discussed earlier, while I think one theory dominates one age group more (and who am I to say whether that is right or not?) I firmly believe that the other theories can play roles in those categories as well (note: the peer teaching me to divide situation. Thanks, Breanna)

I teach high school, mainly grade 9 and 10. This age range is difficult because everyone can be in so many different places developmentally. In the past, I gave an inquiry assignment that wasn’t done the best because I had assumed many kids were able to synthesize and organize new information on their own. Many were not able to and this has led me to do more scaffolding activities. Besides classroom expectations, we can skip through a lot of behaviorist methods (see how they still have impact at this age? Not in the traditionally learning context of your answer is right or wrong but literally in behavior), and jump right to making sure students have some of the processing capabilities that they would have inherited from cognitive theory. Once I make sure the students have that down, can we progress to the more constructivist learning styles like inquiry.

Ultimately, what influences my teaching styles these days are where my kids are at when I get them and then looking to where we need to be. I feel like coming to understand their starting point, and we can do this through diagnostics and other mini what do you know activities, we can better see what we need to touch upon to ideally get to that constructivist style.

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CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM: Will anyone understand this reference?

Ah, 1997. What a year. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won another championship, Clinton banned human cloning, and I was born… or cloned? I am 26 years old. Depending who you ask I am either the youngest Millennial or the oldest Gen Z. I am certainly the best of both worlds due to the fact that I understand memes and I can’t afford a house. Truly a blessing and a curse.

I grew up with technology. Definitely not to the degree that the youth of today do, but I had a smartphone at 14 years old, and even more importantly I learned the Alphabet from a CD-ROM CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM game I got in a box of Frosted Flakes when I was 5. If this makes me feel old, I can’t wait for how some of you reading this will feel. I do remember when it was a big deal that we went from having four desktop computers to laptop carts in my elementary school. This changed things. Really meaning that I could no longer sit in another room playing flash games while my teacher didn’t know. Now I had to play them while sitting in the same room as them and had to hide it. As I am getting a little older and my career is progressing, I am really noticing that the devices, platforms, and programs are changing. I feel that now the amount of different choices educators can pick from is almost overwhelming.

Side note: In class the other day I said students could write their answers to a project in either word or a google doc. They didn’t know what Microsoft word was. Then I remember these kids are younger than the Nintendo Wii and I listened to somber music over my prep. Again, sorry if I’m younger than you and you don’t understand that. Gen Z, baby.

While the choices are numerous, has the reason for/use of technology changed in anyway at all when it comes to education? The baby Greg of the past used cartoonish, singing alphabet caricatures to understand the basics of the English language (this explains so much). Now as (allegedly) an adult, I sometimes use an app with a fun little green owl who teaches me the basics of the French Language (other language learning apps are available). The point is technology, no matter how primitive or advanced can be used to either teach someone or offer them the ability to express their learnings in a variety of different ways. Ex. Instead of having a student draw a picture to represent what they learned from something, they could build something in Minecraft to represent it. Different methods, same point/effect. The creativity piece is huge with technology (insert point about creativity being on a higher plane of intelligence. Check.) it allows for so many different ways to accomplish goals and inspire creativity. Teachers could really open it up so that students have the ability to use technology in anyway that allows them to still showcases their learnings. This can really lean into the strengths and interests of students.

Clark states, “the utility of this knowledge is largely economic. The designer can and must choose the less expensive and most cognitively efficient way to represent and deliver instruction (1994:22). My first thought to this is, ” how lame can your late twentieth- century, capitalist mindset be?” and then I remember I can’t afford a house so what do I know?

The reality is now that times have changed and things are way more accessible than they ever have been. Are there still barriers? You bet there are, but everything has exploded since 1994. when I was a kid I do remember teachers talking about how expensive everything was when it came to all our fancy new toys (desktop computers). ’94 was a different time and the analyzing and study of education has also dramatically shifted. Things are still expensive, but more funding has been put into place in many divisions to be able to offer students resources to be able to learn in different mediums and represent their learnings. Heck when it came to online learning during the pandemic, (I’m speaking solely from my classes and will not make assumptions about others) we were able to transition to online easily as everybody already had technology. A basic phone or laptop was enough. Yes, it is still expensive. However, at the same time it is closer to us in everyway than ever before (he says from his warm apartment, on his laptop provided to him from his school division).

In terms of a contemporary definition of education, I still think it fits the same bill that it could have potentially had in early days. Technology offers students the ability to learn in different ways and showcases this learning in different ways. A tool for showing and telling (I guess in Ed it would be telling first then showing, or I guess a combo,  but you get it). It is just now that there are about 1000 times different ways to do this. Which honestly can make things more complicated. What is best? What could work better? How does the cloud work? Who actually uses BING as a search engine? Unanswerable questions. It does really come down to a trial and error, research, and practice of what one educator might like compared to the next. Some may argue that we should go back to the old school way of doing things to complicate things less. Maybe that method of lecture is what complicates things and discourages creativity and creates bland people later in life with no taste for innovation? That is a different topic for another time.

Thanks for reading my seriously unserious work. I’m off to find a CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM emulator.

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