Is social media the new online childhood?

Debate #6 proved to be very successful and one of my favorites. The topic focused on whether or not social media is ruining childhood. I found this topic to be very stimulating as I can admit to spending a fair bit of time on Social Media, specifically using Twitter and Facebook in order to build…Read more Is social media the new online childhood?

Debate #6 proved to be very successful and one of my favorites. The topic focused on whether or not social media is ruining childhood. I found this topic to be very stimulating as I can admit to spending a fair bit of time on Social Media, specifically using Twitter and Facebook in order to build my PLN and to stay connected with my family and friends. In my life, social media has been a helpful tool and as a teacher, I have learned how to use it responsibly. However, this is not the reality that currently exists among many of our students who are using social media. Now a days, children are learning how to use social media at a very young age. Perhaps too young? Although social media has become a part of our society, I’m sure we can all agree that Digital Citizenship readiness is essential before using social media.

Both the Agree and Disagree Teams presented valuable information which made the debate process exciting yet challenging. Personally, I found my-self struggling to “pick” a side. The Agree team (Amy, Logan and Carter) informed us about how parents within today’s society are worried that their children might be growing up too quickly due to spending an increasing amount of time on social media. Children are developing unhealthy habits by being unable to disconnect it, such as participating in less physical activities, unhealthy snacking, and not getting enough sleep. Furthermore, negative exposure to social media can affect children’s mental health. Individuals subjected to Cyber-Bullying may develop mental health issues: anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. Teachers and parents are also worried about how children are missing out on basic communication skills and the human experience of what it means to form relationships due to focusing all of their time and efforts towards using social media. Therefore, face to face interaction is eliminated as face to screen interaction takes over.

The Disagree Team (Ellen and Elizabeth) reminded many of us that times have changed since we were young, and so has our society. Although it may be difficult to shift our current thoughts about technology and social media, we need to evolve and adapt if we are to move past the culture of fear that currently exists. Perhaps social media is not a bad thing, some of us are just not used to it. Social media does have the potential to enhance children’s childhood as it offers a sense of belonging and support. Making friends is not always an easy experience for children. In fact, for some, it can be quite scary. Children are less lonely when they are able to join social connections created by social media and it provides them with the outlets they need in order to feel support. Social media can add enjoyment to children’s lives as they can showcase their work and receive compliments for their creativity. But most importantly, social media allows children to become more aware of the world which they currently live in.

Within today’s society, children are growing up with social media and this is out of our control. We cannot continue to compare today’s childhood to ours because they are so different. For instance, when I was a child, technology was very basic. I grew up using dial-up internet, a computer with separate parts (keyboard, mouse, monitor, modem, and tower), and TV’s with the big box attached to the back of them. Therefore, we are left in the situation where we can evolve and accept new technology and social media with its pros and cons or continue to reject it. Many parents use social media today, so why should be prevent children from using it? The major issues involving social media are children’s safety, their awareness of being responsible for creating their own digital footprints and online reputation, and learning how to become successful digital citizens. Teachers and parents need to teach children about how to use social media properly and model the process. We cannot hide from the risks involved, but we can prepare children for how to handle them. Although teachers are not responsible for how their students are using social media outside of school, we can begin to teach students about digital citizenship at an early age and prepare them for the many types of social media that exists and model how to share carefully.


Technology…fair or unfair?

Yesterday evening’s topic focused on whether or not technology is a force for equity in society. I found this topic to be very interesting as I consider myself to be privileged in the sense that technology and the internet have always been accessible to me when needed. However, within this debate, we were reminded that…Read more Technology…fair or unfair?

Yesterday evening’s topic focused on whether or not technology is a force for equity in society. I found this topic to be very interesting as I consider myself to be privileged in the sense that technology and the internet have always been accessible to me when needed. However, within this debate, we were reminded that this is not the case for all individuals. Although technology proves to be a helpful tool, it is only beneficial when we have access to it. Within Schools, teachers often turn to Assistive Technology in order to aid with learning. Students who struggle with poor fine motor skills or other disabilities, are often provided with iPads or lap top computers in order to assist with and improve their learning experience. However, this advantage for learning is not available to all students with disabilities and we need to be mindful of this reality. Therefore, how do we determine whether technology is an equity resource when societal factors impact the use of technology? Factors such as funding, policy, socio-economic status, and geographical location may determine the usage of technology due to whether it is accessible or not. With that being said, let us now review the valuable points addressed during yesterday evening’s debate:

Ways Technology is Fair
• Technology offers educational support with higher educational value Ex: Online courses are reaching out to global communities
• Technology provides individuals with a fundamental right to education
• Technology improves the quality of health care Ex: Diagnostic testing
• Technology allows health professionals to stay connected and collaborate amongst one another
• Technology improves overall access to education and health care
• Assistive Technology is beneficial for students with disabilities and can improve their overall educational experience
• Technology provides independence and allow people to be given a voice within the world

Ways Technology is Unfair
• Technology is narrowing the achievement gap as some individuals are more privileged than others
• Not everyone has access to technology or internet access therefore they cannot benefit from it
• Assistive technology is not available to all who may benefit from it
• Technology is expensive and access to technology is problematic
• Technology teachers are not professionally trained and training is required for the use of assistive technology
• Technology will assist with learning but it is not the solution to students who have disabilities/special needs
• Socio-economic status or geographical location may impact technology as it is not accessible for all individuals

It comes as no surprise that technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, as to whether technology provides a force for equity within society depends on the particular task at hand and the possibility of who may benefit from it. For instance, teachers who use classroom online blogs or websites in order to stay connected with parents cannot make the assumption that every child in their classroom has access to technology or the internet. Therefore by not considering this, are teachers singling out the students who we are considered to be less privileged? Although technology is a helpful tool for learning, it is important for teachers to adapt their teaching practices and to remember that we don’t have to use tech all the time, children learn in many ways and we need to provide many ways for them to learn. We need to be mindful of the ways in which technology may be useful but also how we can be productive in our teachings without relying on technology.


Let’s share…but carefully!

This week’s debate topic focused on whether openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. This particular topic was very interesting to me, as I am an individual who attempts to stay up to date with the latest apps and social media. As a teacher, I always use caution before sharing anything online.…Read more Let’s share…but carefully!

This week’s debate topic focused on whether openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. This particular topic was very interesting to me, as I am an individual who attempts to stay up to date with the latest apps and social media. As a teacher, I always use caution before sharing anything online. Whether it be pictures or opinionated posts, I ask my-self “Who will see this beyond my ‘Friends’ list and how will it affect me? Perhaps this extreme sense of caution was instilled by my parents, who always felt (and still feel today) that sharing online is dangerous due to Identify Fraud or Online Shaming. However after Tuesday evening’s debate, I realized that sharing online presents both Pro’s and Con’s, depending how it is utilized. Before Tuesday, I had never “Googled” my-self. After doing this, I was quite surprised to see two photos of my-self that I am assuming are from my Facebook Account. By “Googleing” my-self, I became slightly overwhelmed with the reality that the information we choose to share online will always be accessible. Therefore, we need to show caution when sharing online as we are responsible for creating our own Digital Footprint and possibly a negative reputation for ourselves within the online world.

As a teacher, I often hear the many ways students (specifically teenagers) are sharing online. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are brought up on a daily basis. Although my school does not permit the use of cellphones, students are still sharing outside of school. In most cases, children are sharing pictures and personal information about themselves with little or no parental supervision. Now a days, it is simple and convenient for children to access social media. However, it is crucial for both parents and their children to be attentive of the apps or social media programs they are using as some can be potentially dangerous when it comes to sharing online. With that being said, here are some of the valuable points addressed during the debate by both the Agree and Disagree teams:

Pro’s of Sharing Online
• Students are able to take pride in their work and give their best effort when they share their work online
• Students are given a voice
• Online sharing within schools provides students with the opportunity to practice sharing in a safe and controlled environment, so they can learn how to share properly
• Teachers can focus on teaching about internet safety and how to create strong passwords
• We are preparing students for the world that currently exists
• Employers are able to locate you for job opportunities
• Students can learn how to prepare for and handle risky situations involving online sharing
• Value of sharing and receiving student feed back
• Changes students world views

Con’s of Sharing Online
• Digital Footprints and Facial Recognition Ex: VK.COM (Russian Facebook)
• Online Shaming and Cyber-Bullying
• Raises awareness for Identity Fraud
• Children taking pictures of others and sharing them online without consent
• Technology and sharing is not going away anytime soon, therefore we can learn to accept it and adapt
• Openly sharing invades individual identity and children’s safety is put at risk Ex: Tracking
• Adding to the path of others by sharing without consent Ex: Images

As teachers, it is essential that we learn about Digital Citizenship as well as the importance of Digital Footprints if we are going to share students work online. As part of incorporating technological learning, teachers are required to educate students about Digital Fluency, focusing on privacy protection, rights and responsibilities and respective online behavior. Furthermore, we must be vigilant in helping students learn how to share and model the sharing process for them effectively. Children need to be reminded that when they share something online, they are contributing towards their online identity and are unable to prevent the people who sees or reads what they have posted. One of the most important points addressed during the debate was parental supervision. It is crucial for parents to be aware of the different types of social media/apps their children are using. In doing so, they may educate their children about sharing and how to do it responsibly. Finally, if both teachers and parents take the time to educate themselves about what it means to be good digital citizens, our knowledge and influences will encourage our students to be as well.


Technology is making our students unhealthy…Or is it?

Within the 21st century, Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. Not only do we use technology within the work force but we also use it to perform tasks such as reading the news, paying bills and keeping in touch with our family and friends. However, with all of the technology available…Read more Technology is making our students unhealthy…Or is it?

Within the 21st century, Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. Not only do we use technology within the work force but we also use it to perform tasks such as reading the news, paying bills and keeping in touch with our family and friends. However, with all of the technology available today, it comes as no surprise that children are subject to it as well. Many teachers would agree that our students have become too reliant upon technology and show great difficulty disconnecting from it. Personally, I feel that moderation is key as well as modeling the proper usage of technology for our students. On Tuesday evening (May 24th, 2016), Heather, Andres, and my-self debated against the Agree team, relying on the research we examined to defend technology and its contribution towards creating unhealthy lifestyles. Through collaboration, we each agreed that students are not becoming unhealthy because of technology and the internet alone. It is dependent upon a lifestyle which includes factors such as nutrition, dietary habits, genetics and most importantly, parenting habits. Although technology plays a part, it is not the only factor we should be looking at. However, once the debate was over, I was overwhelmed by the information brought forward by both teams. Despite this difficult topic, I must say that Heather, Andres, and I gave it a solid shot!

The Agree team brought forth many valuable points. Within the article “Sneaky Ways Technology is Messing with Your Body and Mind”, it describes the physical and mental effects that technology has on the body. I found this article to be very informative as I was unaware that too much time dedicated to staring at your cell phone or sitting in front of your computer can lead to neck and back complications. Moreover, “One 2011 study found that men who were exposed to electromagnetic radiation from laptop WIFI for four hours had sperm with DNA damage and decreased motility” (p. 2). As teachers, we often hear about the many ways children spend their time using technology outside of school. From playing video games to using social media, our students seem to be spending numerous hours on technology. Within the article “Obesity in Children and Technology”, it explains how the average child spends up to seven hours on technology. This includes watching TV, browsing the internet and playing video games. This intense exposure to technology can create unhealthy habits, consisting of obesity caused from increased snacking and lack of sleep. The Agree team also discussed the negative impacts that technology has on the social and mental well-being of students. Student’s communication skills are declining as they engage in less conversations due to being unable to disconnect from their technological devices. Cyber-bullying was another concern brought up during the debate. Students who are being bullied online are at risk of developing depression, anxiety, aggression, and suicidal thoughts.

In our debate, Heather, Andres and I focused specifically on the 4 ways Technology can contribute to a healthy lifestyle: Physical Health, Social Health, Emotional Health and Intellectual Health. A side from the information shared within our introductory video, we explained how a healthy balance of technology with physical fitness is possible, as technology cannot take the place of any sport yet provide motivation to be active. The internet provides children with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of sports outside of schools and offers fitness groups that people may join, especially for those who do not prefer to exercise publicly. Moreover, there are devices (such as the Wii, Xbox Kinect and Fitbit) that offer active game participation that are geared towards balance improvement, aerobics, and also allow you to track your progress to see how you are improving. Within the article “Determining the Effects of Technology on Children”, it shares a study done by MedicineNet which states “Heavier children seemed to enjoy exergaming much more than exercising the traditional way” (p. 14). As for the Social and Emotional Health Aspect, Heather shared a link to an article which proved to be very informative but may also be used as an effective teaching tool within the classroom. The article includes a variety of resources directly related to the positive and healthy ways society can prevent as well as raise awareness about bullying. In the article “Researchers: Forget Internet Abstinence; Teens Need Some Online Risks” (found by Andres), it explains how students, specifically teenagers, should be aware of the many online risks that do exist and learn from these experiences rather than avoid them. By doing this, students will learn productive strategies for addressing the risks that are present while using technology.

Although it is easy to blame technology for contributing towards an unhealthy lifestyle, we must be open to the fact that technology (if used appropriately and in moderation) can be a positive tool. At school, teachers are able to monitor specific tasks being performed when using technology as well as the amount of time students are spending on technology. However, after 4:00 pm, the time our students spend on technology (such as playing video games or on social media) becomes out of our control. This is controlled by our student’s parents/guardians. Parents can contribute to healthy technology habits by making a habit of turning the TV off when eating supper, eliminating computer, tablet, and video game use after a certain amount of time each day and lastly, signing up their children for recreational sports in order to break away from media devices and to help their children understand it is important to take a step back from technology. But most importantly, both teachers and parents need to educate their children about being responsible while using technology because whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay.


How about we just Google it?

Tuesday evening’s first debate was incredibly intense! The topic focused on whether schools should be teaching anything that can be Googled. Both the Agree and Disagree teams put forth relevant information and spoke about realistic examples that do occur daily within the school setting. This made it very difficult for me to determine exactly what…Read more How about we just Google it?

Tuesday evening’s first debate was incredibly intense! The topic focused on whether schools should be teaching anything that can be Googled. Both the Agree and Disagree teams put forth relevant information and spoke about realistic examples that do occur daily within the school setting. This made it very difficult for me to determine exactly what my stand point is. I feel that both sides shared valuable points.

Within the 21st century, almost everything that is taught within schools can be supported through the use of Google. From specific research topics to basic skills, students have the ability to decipher information quickly through the World Wide Web. I do not believe Google is responsible for the learned helplessness that exists in today’s society but at the same time I do not want to see it banned from the classroom, because it is still a valuable research tool if used appropriately. It is essential for teachers to educate their students about how to use Google within an educational setting. Teachers requiring research assignments from their students need to do explicit “research” teaching skills.

In the article “How Google Impacts The Way Students Think”, it refers to three major points which I found to be very accurate in the way our students are impacted by having access to Google: 1. Google creates the illusion of accessibility 2. Google naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points 3. Being linear, Google obscures the interdependence of information. In order for our students to be successful within their schooling experience, we need to teach students basic skills that allow them to show some independence in order to resolve the task at hand, rather than rely so comfortably for Google to provide them with the answers they seek. During the debate, Luke had mentioned the term “Googleable skills” and how teaching students essential basic skills are valuable to their development and will maximize their full learning potential. However, by allowing students to simply rely on Google as a search engine, they are unable to develop critical thinking skills. As stated in the article “How the Internet is Changing Your Brain”, “Our brains use information stored in the long-term memory to facilitate critical thinking but if we rely on Google to store our knowledge, we may be losing an important part of our identity” (p. 3).

Within our first debate, we spoke about how technology is a tool that can either be perceived positively or negatively. Teachers can educate students about how to use these tools effectively in order to assist with the learning process, but not to be the end result or solve problems. Furthermore, teachers can demonstrate how Google can be used in order to brainstorm about a particular topic or even explain when it is a suitable time to use Google as a research tool. As mentioned in Jeremy Black’s Blog, he states “Google serves as a jumping off point to take and refine ideas to improve one’s own skill set”. Like Jeremy, I happen to enjoy cooking very much and consider myself to be somewhat of a foodie. Therefore, I also use Google when it comes to looking for new food inspiration and delicious recipes. Personally, I’ve come across many recipes retrieved from Google that have been very tasty but also terrible. Overall, by experimenting with new recipes through the use of Google, I have developed a skill for cooking and am able to identify the food recipes I know I will enjoy or steer away from.

Therefore, through the process of curiosity, forming questions, trial and error, and practice of reflection, we can encourage students to think critically and help them understand the importance of higher level thinking and developing problem solving skills. Google is a great tool, but it is not the answer to all that we seek.


Technology enhances learning, but are we prepared to use it?

First off, I would like to say thank you and congratulations to the two teams who professionally debated the topic “Technology in the classroom enhances learning”. Both teams did such a good job and I must say, I took away many points which I had never paid attention to before; such as the amount of…Read more Technology enhances learning, but are we prepared to use it?

First off, I would like to say thank you and congratulations to the two teams who professionally debated the topic “Technology in the classroom enhances learning”. Both teams did such a good job and I must say, I took away many points which I had never paid attention to before; such as the amount of funds that Regina Public pays yearly simply on the integration of technology devices and the regular maintenance these devices require. Both teams presented strong factual information and I have to admit I left the meeting with mixed emotions. However, I do want to believe that technology can enhance student learning.

It is evident that technology within the classroom presents both positive and negative attributes. However, we must first acknowledge the fact that technology in itself presents a stigma that it can either be a productive tool or a major distraction within the classroom. I do agree that technology is a positive tool, especially for students who struggle with learning disabilities and require additional assistance. Tools such as iPads or lap top computers can assist students with low fine motor skills, where they may find greater success through the use of technology. Within the debate, we were informed about the many ways that technology can be implemented to support learning. Simply having access to iPads, computers, or smart boards does not account for integrating technology. It is ultimately up to teachers to be mindful about the types of technology that will benefit their students. For instance, would a Google document effectively support a classroom community or would it lead to singling out the students who do not possess technology devises in their home? Would creating a classroom blog or a website be an effective platform for students to create and share content by posting animations, videos and photos, all of which are known to help empower individuals to develop their own sense of creativity and identity.

Moreover, I strongly agree with the point raised during the debate about there not being enough trained teachers to effectively support technology within the classroom. When I reminisce about my time spent in elementary school, I do not recall technology being integrated within our daily lessons. In fact, the only memory of technology I do recollect was going to the computer lab once a week to practice appropriate typing skills (which I never used seeing as we performed everything using paper and pencil) followed by playing Oregon Trail.

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Furthermore, when I look back to my time spent doing my post-secondary degree, I do not recall taking more than one Ed Tech course. Personally, by the time I graduated with my post-secondary degree, I can say that I was not prepared to begin technological learning strategies within the classroom. Perhaps part of teachers Professional Development should include Ed Tech training, so teachers can learn how to effectively include technology in the classroom to enhance learning. With technology advancing every day, so is the assumption that all teachers are tech-savvy as well as up to date with the latest apps and social media programs. But for teachers who feel they need a little extra help integrating technology to enhance learning, consider watching this helpful video.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge that integrating technology in order to enhance learning can be beneficial yet also time consuming. It can be difficult to include technology into a lesson when teachers are spending too many minutes getting students logged onto devices as well as redirecting. However, technology will continue to present itself as a positive or negative tool. We must be open to the idea that while technology is being used to assist with professional development for teachers, it can also be used to enhance student learning.

Thank you again everyone! I look forward to the next set of debates!