Aren’t crutches designed to help people walk that can’t though?

I believe I heard Katia say this during the winter semester when it came to talking about technology as a crutch. There was also a lot of talk about how technology “supports” learning, but it doesn’t ‘enhance’ it. I’ll be honest, that doesn’t make sense to me. If something is supporting you or aiding you to be able to do/learn something, does that not enhance it? I’m getting very literal with the statement, but hey, that’s how debates are sometimes. The topics given are intentionally polarizing so that we can reflect on both sides. Luckily, in the real world we don’t have to be so black and white with things. I firmly believe that at times, you bet it enhances learning. At other times, yeah we probably don’t need to go this route. Finding that healthy balance is something that I think many of us are reaching for.

Alright so with the crutch analogy, I get it. Some people are too heavily reliant on certain technologies/others to accomplish things. That is an issue. Where does that issue stem from though? Was the the child taught how to use a device properly? Has there been an attempt at rules/regulations/even classroom management techniques (in certain circumstances) to try and deal with these issues? Is there actual practice time set in place to aid these weaknesses? I’m not throwing anyone under the bus when it comes to this, but I feel like there are also a lot of external factors, besides the child, that lead to this. Sometimes it is just easier to give a kid technology than meeting them where they are. I get it. We’re busy and we have a timeline, so a quick fix is sometimes more economical when it comes down to it. Kind of like just giving a screaming child an iPad because it’s just easier than entertaining that child ourselves. Hope I didn’t offend anyone with that one. Topic for a different time!

In my experience, I have seen students take advantage of certain resources, like tech, scribes, etc because they were allowed to. There have been multiple cases where a student is provided a scribe (usually an EA) who is supposed to take notes/write for the student in specific situations. Things were not made clear and the student would pressure the EA into writing everything down for them or just assume that the EA would do that for them. Avoidance is not going to help a child improve their weaker areas, so again, by all means I understand where many people come from when they say students are too reliant on things.

On the other side for the kids taking advantage of tech and supports, there are students who actually do use the supports given to them appropriately and it does enhance their learning. The last school I was at was almost 50% EAL. Huge respect to those that are getting an education in a language that they are not fluent in, yet. I can’t imagine how different my own schooling experience would have been if I was in a similar situation. Not saying mine would have been bad, but it just would have been very different and I could have seen my own confidence levels affected. Continuing on, I had a lot of students rely on technology when it came to doing homework. From translating words, to using a thesaurus and dictionary (that was made more easily accessible because of technology) the students were able to have some equity in their learning.

In order do use technology effectively I think we actually do have to use it like a crutch sometimes (see what I did there?). Crutches are designed to help people who need help walking. Some people, no matter what, will always need that help to walk. While others are fortunate enough to be able to heal and walk on their own. I think when technology is used in a similar way, used to aid and then can be maybe phased out, is a starting point for individuals who desperately do need that support for where they are in their educational journey.

Side note about Outdoor experiences being better than using technology, which was used in the debate: how are you getting to where you want to go? Bus? Are you doing something like trapping or using maps? Are you writing things down? You walking around barefoot or wearing shoes? That last one is a little petty, but even when we’re outside, we’re still using a lot of technology to get things done. Maybe not in the sense of computers and phones but a hammer, heck even the way you use a stick, is still technology. In honour of Dr. Nick Forsberg, I have to say that just being outside or having class outside and not utilizing the land and learning from it is not outdoor education. This does require us to look at the land scientifically and use it to complete goals or aims, which is a form of tech.

Bottom line for me, yes it does enhance learning. This depends on so many factors though. We didn’t even get into when accessibility is a huge issue and some of the other socio-economic areas. Some areas it takes away, but I think overall it has done so much good and made things better.

Hetterley

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Mr. H do you want to play Fortnite with us?

Ahh the joys of being a younger teacher (soon I won’t be able to say this so I’ll take advantage of it). Students are always asking me what video games I play, if I want to play with them, and if I’m any good. I usually just default to the, “it wouldn’t be fair if I played you. I’m too good”. This is my attempt to get them to drop it. Then they say something like “Skibidi Ohio” and then I’m left confused and feeling like I can no longer call myself a younger teacher.

One of my previous posts for a former class was about how I grew up with technology. I was born in 1997, so it has always been very present in my life. From video games, media, and learning tools like the internet, PowerPoint, and the google suite. Learning PowerPoint was wild because in the 4th grade they pulled 5 students from our class of 25 to learn PowerPoint on their own with the teacher-librarian and then present to us. We all thought it was the craziest thing. Fast forward 2 years and I got to use PowerPoint for the very first time myself. It was for science class and you wouldn’t believe how proud I was of my first slideshow about Uranus. Yes, I was that kid. Too be honest, I’m still that kid.

In the more modern times of my current job as a high school teacher I’m constantly using technology and it is a real pain in the Uranus when it doesn’t work. EDSBY, Outlook, and Google Suites, are all used on a daily basis. My school division operates with these systems, and if you’re a teacher in Saskatchewan, I can imagine you have experience with these as well. I’m not a big Google Classroom person anymore as I found it was too much of a pain in the (insert same lame butt/planet joke here) to have things posted on EDSBY and in classroom. I much prefer having things in one central location so I default to EDSBY now.

The last two years I’ve been a Phys Ed teacher/Social/Math teacher. In the gymnasium we use more basic technologies like physical equipment (i.e a ball, racket, volleyball net etc.) These are more primitive in nature than a cellphone, but they are still developed forms of technology. I might as well address the elephant in the room with what I just said, but yes I even *gasp* use cellphones for somethings too. This will be a hot topic come my debate on the 17th, so stay tuned for that. In the classroom we have used slide show programs, Padlet (learned about this last semester from some peers. Super fun for getting some engagement from the students). Students have made mock social media accounts for philosophers using Canva or real social media apps like Instagram and Facebook. Nothing makes you chuckle more like seeing Descartes spam posting like a 13 year old. My favourite format we use is videos. Not like in the sense that I show a lot of movies, but I love having students create their own movies. I have not laughed harder at anything in my life that student made films. They are funny, informative, and just let students shine in a different way.

Outside of my job I’m taking the TLL program through the University of Regina. I’m not in the online cohort, but so far, all my classes have been digital. In the fall I take my 5th class and it will be the first one in my program where I will actually have to go to the University. What is even the point now that Henderson’s is closed? Urcourses, while not my favourite tool, has been instrumental in my undergrad and now master’s studies. Also shoutout zoom. You made university a little lame but also a little practical in my busy life.

When it comes to communication, I was 16 when Snapchat came out and that is still how I contact some of my friends, 11 years later. I don’t even bother texting them. That only works for my old friends of course, so besides that it’s texting, other social medias, and *sigh* having to call someone. That is how I know I’m part of the technology age when my principal said, “you should give that students a CALL home.” I looked at him like he was crazy. Disclaimer: I can talk on the phone fine-unless ordering a pizza).

When it comes to communicating with students, we use email, EDSBY messenger, and the gradebook on EDSBY. I can leave comments on things in there, and on google/microsoft projects they hand in. Sometimes when I’m feeling crazy I even given them feedback on a literal piece of paper along with their rubric.

Thanks for reading this far! I’m very excited for this class and for these debates to kickoff!

Hetterley

 

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Wake me when you need me (It’s a Halo 3 reference)

In my current working context (Grade 9-10 teacher) I’d say I rarely use any kind of generative AI. I teach Phys Ed 9, Math 9, Wellness 10, and Social 10. I could definitely use it in Wellness and in Social 10 for a variety of different things, but so far, I just haven’t. I have taught students how to utilize some of the different AI system’s though. Mainly just in the sense that I’ve given them an article or reading and then showed them how they can use AI to make a synopsis or gather key points that they can utilize. Of course I have taught them (in conjunction with their ELA teachers) how if you’re going to use this type of info, you still have to cite the original piece. We’ve mainly just used it to either tone down something that sounded to complicated or used it to explain something in a different way.

For my own personal use I have used it just a few times for a quick lesson plan when something hasn’t gone to plan and I need something quick and I’ve also used it a couple times to help generate a general rubric for assignments. I’ve tried to use Chatgpt to make some more in-depth lesson plans, but I find it only works well for a generalized plan. It gives great outlines, but I’m either to lazy to write in more info to get what I want or I’m just not using it correctly. With the general nature of it I’ve used it once or twice to create a general unit plan, and it does a decent job of making a timeline for different topics to cover, without going into too much depth. For long term planning, again, its solid. For something extremely detailed, to me, it’s not the best option.

From what I can tell, I’ve only ever had one student blatantly use it. I taught Social 30 last year and over the course of about a month to a month and a half we did a dialectic essay. Students need to pick a controversial topic in Canadian society, argue for both sides, give their opinion, and then a possible solution (Silvius if you’re reading this you probably know the exact one as I’ve stolen.. erm was gifted it by Tammy). We went over the writing process multiple times, had an outline that they had to fill out, and then they had to create a draft, edit it, and then hand in a good copy. It was a whole process that we took a bunch of time on. The average one was about 7 pages long and had 7-8 sources. One student handed in a single paragraph, zero sources, zero grammatical errors, and to boot, it was about how AI will be making teachers useless in the near future.

So obviously it didn’t pass because it was missing so many components (which were in the rubric) and just for fun I ran it through a couple different AI checkers like gptzero and Winston AI. I was able to utilize the free versions because of how short the writing piece actually was. I ran it through and sure enough it said that it was most likely almost 100% AI generated. These systems are not full proof or standard in our division. I had to take the evidence to our VP. He agreed with me that it was just a fail to begin with based on the criteria, but the tricky thing was if he failed this, he failed the whole class. It took about 30 seconds of grilling from the VP to get the answer out of him as to whether he cheated or not. He said he didn’t do any of the “extra” stuff (the research portion, outline, draft, etc.) because he thought this would be good enough. Every time I checked on him in class he said he was working on it and even had stuff in the proper format. That went out the window quick. Spoilers: he did cheat. He was like, “how did you know?” and then we showed him what one is supposed to look like. It’s pretty obvious in comparison. Super long story short, because we’ve talked about how we need to consider our assignments so that kids can’t just cheat, this is one of those examples. He ended up doing credit completion.

The benefits of AI are that it can help you in a bind, but the drawbacks are certainly when factually, peer-reviewed proof is needed, or when assignments are designed to a level where students can simply just input the info into a generative AI program and get a base level answer that might not need checking.

As things develop I do have a feeling that things are going to get extremely intricate. As a fan of the video game series Halo I cannot wait to see Cortana (an AI) become real, but it also scares the absolute crap out of me. I think for the most part AI will eventually evolve to take care of “quality of life tasks” by automating tasks that are usually a nuisance for humans so we can focus on other things, but what that could lead to is just some space-age, Sci-Fi stuff that could potentially be terrifying (insert Terminator scenes). How great would it be though if I just had AI that could do my attendance for me and keep updating it so that I don’t have to take time at the beginning of class or remember to fix it if someone walks in late. Or if it could just pull up what I want on the screen instead of having to fight with our projectors that all operate differently at our school. Sounds like a dream. If me still doing my attendance manually keeps us from a robot apocalypse, then so be it.

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Coding is basically phys ed… kinda

Coding can be a difficult concept for some to adapt to. There is a growing narrative that if you want to have a job in the future you will need to know how to code. This is a narrative that has been pushed for a couple years now and has aided in the growth of coding as a whole. No society has progressed a lot, technologically, over the past few years and there are a variety of jobs where coding is one of the main functions of the job. However, to say that the only jobs you can get are in coding is just using buzz words to get people to pay attention. This then brings up the conversation of, “well is the purpose of school job training” and that is another whole can of worms.

When it comes to coding and well anything we teach in school, I enjoy the idea of it for the process and the problem solving skills that it helps bring on. Coding is essentially putting things in a specific order, or following a process, to accomplish something. When it comes to more primary grades learning a process or a system of doing things is similar to students learning the process of mathematics or writing a sentence. There is a certain order of doing things, and if one thing goes wrong, the whole thing goes wrong. This is also a very behaviorist method of teaching, but when it comes to the more primary grades understanding the process is great because when they are more developed, cognitively, in the future, they can begin to utilize these processes they have learned to be able to share, create, and explore in their own ways. They just need the foundations first.

As a phys ed teacher, I can relate coding to the completion of a movement pattern. When I teach student how to “send” or “throw” an object I have a set number of smaller movements/cues for them to follow to be more successful. A simple throwing of a ball can be broken down into 5 mini steps. A beginning, transition, middle, transition, and an end. If one thing in the sequence is off, the whole thing can be thrown off. As discussed, coding is very similar. As students get more comfortable with throwing a ball, they can begin to utilize it in drills, games, etc. How I view coding is in a similar manner.

What I think could be a hinderance is that most children learn how to throw a ball when they’re very young, coding isn’t necessarily taught at young ages and trying to teach something like this at an older age could potentially be hard. Learning a skill or even a language at an older age is harder compared to a student that learned it at a younger age and has continuous practice. If my students have never learned anything about coding is it worth taking it up in the high school setting and focusing on all these basics, when other students their age could be miles ahead?

To be honest, I think so. Coding is something that many people pick up as they age into adolescents or even not until adulthood. It takes work of course, but there are a lot of external learning resources and even university classes dedicated to the topic. Many people steer away because they think it is too late for some to learn. As coding becomes more and more mainstream, maybe this will happen though. With students beginning to learn it earlier and earlier a knowledge/skill gap could potentially begin to form and now it isn’t as manageable to learn it later in life if you are “competing” against people that have been doing it their whole lives. I use “competing” because, again, is that the only reason we teach stuff? Do get people jobs? As a phys ed teacher I know what I’m teaching will not make students be able to get a job. What it can allow for is students to be confident and competent, be healthy, and maybe find something they enjoy doing or are passionate about. I think coding could be a similar thing. It could be good to know how to do it, what it could lead to, and who knows maybe somebody does really enjoy it, but just as a hobby in their spare time. I feel like that is still a major win.

Of course I have to mention the drawbacks to this. Not everyone has access to technology in their school divisions, or if they do, there aren’t enough to go around. Many teachers don’t know anything about it and are too scared to learn as they don’t want to seem clueless in front of their students. Many just also feel that they can accomplish the outcomes of the curriculum in an easier manner, and who doesn’t love it when things are easier? What I think is really holding teachers back is the extra effort and resources that it could take for this to be accomplished. Teachers are already busy and don’t always have the prep time or professional development opportunities for them to learn it. Asking them to learn on their own time is also a little unfeasible when they already have so much going on. If there was easier access or school division based training opportunities, well then maybe I could see more teachers getting onboard.

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Why did the assistive technology go to therapy? It felt it wasn’t getting enough support… thanks chatgpt

My first experience with assistive technology would be one I never really considered until now. Glasses. They assist someone so that they can see the same (or most definitely better) than myself and I don’t question anyone for wearing them. It brings someone up to the same standard as everyone else. How come most people are okay with this and not other versions of assistive technology. How come people are okay with hearing aids for those who need them to hear, and not say a student needing a laptop or recorder to succeed in school? I think this probably goes back to the stigma surrounding people living with disabilities that are not visible. Unfortunately, I feel a lot of assistive tech could be viewed this way.

To begin, like the above mentioned assistive technology, most of what I have had experience with is for someone that people can visibly see need help. Besides my callback to glasses and hearing aids, one of my classmates in elementary student moved from South Korea to Regina in the 8th grade. Up until this point, we had some students move from other countries and join our class, but their English proficiency was pretty good. Min-Seok was the first student/peer that I ever had that didn’t know very much English at the time and was having difficulty learning. This was right before the SMART Phone boom where everyone had a translator in their pocket. Min-Seok had his own little translator that resembled a Nintendo DS.

I’m not sure if it was this exact one, but it kind of looked like the one above. At first we thought it was unfair that he had such a device that could help him out, but then we realized that he really needed it just to get by. 13-year old Greg and his peers were originally less compassionate than we are probably now. We were just dumb kids and made judgements based on it. I know if I got dropped into a Korean classroom I’d be lost.  Again, it didn’t take long for us to realize he really needed.

Side note: One of my fondest memories of this was when, in the middle of math class, he had ear buds connected and was watching Family Guy, dubbed in Korean, in class. Our teacher had no idea. I sat behind him and he caught me watching. He gave me a thumbs up and then turned on English subtitles so I could read them while he was watching in Korean. We both laughed at something at the same time and our teacher glared at us. It definitely brought us closer together.

Like I mentioned earlier, I think one of the current drawbacks surrounding assistive technology is the perception that the general public has on those who utilize it. A common misconception is that if you need it, you are stupid, or that there is something wrong with you. Changing that mindset is something the is going to take a lot of time. One of the ways that my group discussed this was by making assistive tech more common practice in the classroom and accessible to everyone. If everyone is using it then it becomes normalized and one person isn’t singled out. Of course, this can also have drawbacks because not every school/school division has the means and resources to provide everyone something like a laptop or device. In some cases, only a few can be bought and distributed. Funding itself is a whole drawback that is difficult to navigate.

Another way to maybe combat these stereotypes by providing education to students on what learning disabilities are and how they affect students. Maybe students will become more compassionate once they have an actual understanding of what someone might be dealing with. Assistive tech isn’t just necessarily for someone with a learning disability either though. There are a variety of reasons why someone might need them. Heck showcasing how assistive tech can help everyone, like something like google read and write, could showcases it can help everyone and create less stigma if someone uses it, again leaning on the idea of normalizing it for everyone.

As we have advanced technologically over the years and things seem to be getting more and more complex, technology is going to have dramatic impacts on education as we continue to move forward. While I do think we lean on technology a lot at times, I cannot argue with how technology has helped provide equity and accessibility to education that would have struggled before without it. Having access to the tech is not as widespread yet but this is also shifting and changing.

One last drawback that I just thought of, that I don’t think was discussed (if it was I apologize) but what happens when a student doesn’t have their assistive tech to support them? Are efforts being put into place to help students learn how to adapt/cope if they don’t have access to assistive tech that is really vital for them? Not in the sense of the age old, “you won’t have a calculator at all times” (which we do now anyways) but in the more dramatic sense that a student can’t properly learn without it? What happens, and this is an example from the school I work in, where a student has someone that scribes for them for certain tasks and not others. The student is now starting to refuse to write anything down at all and will try to get the scribe to write everything down (because they just don’t want to write and not because they aren’t capable for that specific assignment). I feel that of course assistive tech does more than good but like everything people will take it and abuse it. That doesn’t mean we scrap it for all, I’m just genuinely curious as to what people think.

Greg

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Is this for marks?

Assessment can certainly sometimes feel like just a set of numbers and scores. Students seem to be stuck in this mindset as well. Common questions from students are, “Is this for marks? How many marks is this out of? Is this formative or summative?” That last example I’m sure they only know that summative means marks that affect their grades and formative doesn’t.

We are quite literally set with tasks/outcomes that students need to hit. Could we just say, “yes they hit it or no they didn’t” and have that be that? Of course not. For some reason we need to quantify everything with a score. This student knew 83% or the material while this one knew 63% of the material. So did we hit the outcome then? Did we only kind of hit it? The topics surrounding assessment and the discussions than could be had are to large for me to encompass in this post. I wish I had more knowledge on the subject. In my undergrad we only had one class directly about assessment and assessment practices, which ended a month early because of COVID and then the professor just gave me the mark that I got on one of my projects as my mark for the whole class, which then confused me even more about assessment.

When it comes to assessment technologies like Kahoot, Quizlet, and even something like Google forms, these technologies are able to tell students whether they are right or wrong in an instant. Sometimes they are even able to elaborate on why the student was wrong by providing the correct answer. This is good right? Students know if they are right or not. This can be helpful, but it can also be problematic. If a student learns their answer was wrong, but say a word like “red” was the correct answer to a question, they might not dive deeper into why “red” is the answer or how. Just that it is the answer. This type of “behaviorist” learning lends itself to memorization and not application.

When it comes to technology being used for assessment the way that I personally see it being as a positive is how technology can open the door for students to be able to show their thinking, understanding, and comprehension through a variety of different mediums, which could then be assessed.

For example, a classic example, and one I have used in the path, is an inquiry project. Students have to research something and present the findings. I usually let it be quite open. If they want to demonstrate their learning through a paper, PowerPoint, drawing, skit, song, poem, movie, tiktok, it is completely up to them. Students can cater their creativeness to their own needs/wants and doesn’t force them into a style that they do not like or that may not be equitable to them. Some of these methods do offer different challenges than others, I will admit that whole-heartedly.

I’ve done rubric making with my students before where we come up with a pretty generic guideline for what their project has to showcase to show proof of understanding. We try to make it specific, yet broad at the same time to not alienate any type of project. After the projects are handed in we go through an interview process where we talk through the project, the rubric, and come to a decision on the grade together.

This isn’t something that is new or revolutionary. It has been done a lot in recent history by many different teachers around the world, and I think it brings in a good blend of technology. The technology allows them to be more constructivist and cognitive while working within the confines of the assessment.

For something that actually relates to using the technology for assessment something like Kahoot could actually be reversed and used by the student for creation. In the article here and discussed briefly in one of my discussion groups, a student could actually take something like Kahoot and create their own. If they were able to make their own quiz highlighting the key questions and understandings that they took away, they are moving away from the true behaviorist method of this device and trending towards the other planes of learning.

Where I’ll end it is by saying that the “behaviorism” method isn’t always bad. Before we often go into a project or new topic, we need a background of information before we can begin to apply it. Most of the previously mentioned devices could certainly be used in this “acquisition” period. It would be great if a student knew if their info was accurate before going and applying it, and these devices can help with that. It shouldn’t necessarily be the be all end all.

Greg

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We are the Social Dilemma

2020 was a wild year. If we weren’t already freaked out enough with COVID sending everyone home from schools and most of the planet locking down, at least we had our digital devices to enjoy and keep us entertained. Some people were about to get a little more freaked out.

The Social Dilemma film came out and made a lot of people more aware of what was going on behind the scenes when it comes to social media. First off Web 2.0 (the social web) has absolutely exploded over the years. You are hard pressed to find someone over the age of 12 in this day and age that doesn’t have some form of social media. I was 12 when I got Facebook, but I had been connecting digitally with people all over the world since the age of 7 with the classic video game RuneScape. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to name drop his game at some point in this EdTech course. Besides the point, The majority of the modern world is connected digitally and interact socially through the web. This is fantastic. Families can stay in touch, new friends can be made, people find love, and some people even find purpose in this life after seeing something on social media.

Are there negatives? Of course. Family can be blocked. Revengeful photos can be shared. Hate can be spread. Scams can be utilized on unsuspecting Grannies. C’mon, Grandma. Why would the CRA want $30,000 in Red Lobster gift cards? Ultimately, yes there is bad and good that comes with social media.

Where The Social Dilemma comes in brings a new light of negativity though. See this blogpost/website for some of the key takeaways if you haven’t seen it. Where the negativity of this movie comes is exposing how the users of social media are they themselves a product and a lot of the content we now see is specially tailored to us in hopes of influencing us to buy certain products, act certain ways, and even believe certain things.

A way I often use to describe this is how a piece of garbage like AT (I’m not going to even write out his name) can be so popular. Well, it’s because of social media and the algorithms discussed in the movie. One video pops up for a child (In this specific case, usually young males) they click on it, the system sees they interacted with it and keeps feeding it to the viewer and people like the viewer’s demographic. This is also discussed here about how AT has spread among young men. Again, this is do to the social web.

This has made AT rather wealthy and the same thing has happened to many different influencers and companies whose products are also shown. We learned during my presentation a few weeks back that google makes most of its money from advertising. Google shows products to users based on their browsing history. These social media algorithms work similarly. Large companies want this data so that they can see what is popular and tailor new products, messages, etc to people.

For instance in my own life, I once clicked on a wild far-right wing X (formerly Twitter post) and I get so many crazy things shown on my timeline that are very opposite of the views I have. Most of our social medias are like vacuums. We are very much stuck with the things we like, which can be good because we obviously agree with it, but it also shelters you from other points of views/thinking. I am in no way saying what happened to me on twitter is my way of saying, “wow they other side has some good points” I was more so in disbelief of what I was seeing and also know that some people’s timelines would look like this post multiplied by 1000. I’d really hate to see what that other vacuum looks like.

Whether we like it or not, we are directly targeted by companies. Heck were targeted by ideologies based on what I just wrote about. Crap, how did January 6th, when Trump supporters stormed The Capitol, get so much traction? Social media. On the other side how did police brutality and racism get even more exposure with the death of George Floyd? Social media. Both of these instances caused major real world demonstrations. Some with more positive messages then others. These two events existed almost a year apart. One instance showcased injustice and caused others to act in rage against that. One instance showcased a fair loss and caused others to act in rage against that. Social media has the power to spread info at rapid rates and has the power to influence others to take real world action, for good or bad.

We didn’t even touch upon how much money some companies make off the backs of our info. Social media has so many different facets now that one topic is such a winding rabbit hole. Who though it would become this?

On a more positive note. If you maybe want to see some change for the better in your own life, regarding social media. Here are a social media user’s thoughts on some things they can do better after watching The Social Dilemma.

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We are the Social Dilemma

2020 was a wild year. If we weren’t already freaked out enough with COVID sending everyone home from schools and most of the planet locking down, at least we had our digital devices to enjoy and keep us entertained. Some people were about to get a little more freaked out.

The Social Dilemma film came out and made a lot of people more aware of what was going on behind the scenes when it comes to social media. First off Web 2.0 (the social web) has absolutely exploded over the years. You are hard pressed to find someone over the age of 12 in this day and age that doesn’t have some form of social media. I was 12 when I got Facebook, but I had been connecting digitally with people all over the world since the age of 7 with the classic video game RuneScape. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to name drop his game at some point in this EdTech course. Besides the point, The majority of the modern world is connected digitally and interact socially through the web. This is fantastic. Families can stay in touch, new friends can be made, people find love, and some people even find purpose in this life after seeing something on social media.

Are there negatives? Of course. Family can be blocked. Revengeful photos can be shared. Hate can be spread. Scams can be utilized on unsuspecting Grannies. C’mon, Grandma. Why would the CRA want $30,000 in Red Lobster gift cards? Ultimately, yes there is bad and good that comes with social media.

Where The Social Dilemma comes in brings a new light of negativity though. See this blogpost/website for some of the key takeaways if you haven’t seen it. Where the negativity of this movie comes is exposing how the users of social media are they themselves a product and a lot of the content we now see is specially tailored to us in hopes of influencing us to buy certain products, act certain ways, and even believe certain things.

A way I often use to describe this is how a piece of garbage like AT (I’m not going to even write out his name) can be so popular. Well, it’s because of social media and the algorithms discussed in the movie. One video pops up for a child (In this specific case, usually young males) they click on it, the system sees they interacted with it and keeps feeding it to the viewer and people like the viewer’s demographic. This is also discussed here about how AT has spread among young men. Again, this is do to the social web.

This has made AT rather wealthy and the same thing has happened to many different influencers and companies whose products are also shown. We learned during my presentation a few weeks back that google makes most of its money from advertising. Google shows products to users based on their browsing history. These social media algorithms work similarly. Large companies want this data so that they can see what is popular and tailor new products, messages, etc to people.

For instance in my own life, I once clicked on a wild far-right wing X (formerly Twitter post) and I get so many crazy things shown on my timeline that are very opposite of the views I have. Most of our social medias are like vacuums. We are very much stuck with the things we like, which can be good because we obviously agree with it, but it also shelters you from other points of views/thinking. I am in no way saying what happened to me on twitter is my way of saying, “wow they other side has some good points” I was more so in disbelief of what I was seeing and also know that some people’s timelines would look like this post multiplied by 1000. I’d really hate to see what that other vacuum looks like.

Whether we like it or not, we are directly targeted by companies. Heck were targeted by ideologies based on what I just wrote about. Crap, how did January 6th, when Trump supporters stormed The Capitol, get so much traction? Social media. On the other side how did police brutality and racism get even more exposure with the death of George Floyd? Social media. Both of these instances caused major real world demonstrations. Some with more positive messages then others. These two events existed almost a year apart. One instance showcased injustice and caused others to act in rage against that. One instance showcased a fair loss and caused others to act in rage against that. Social media has the power to spread info at rapid rates and has the power to influence others to take real world action, for good or bad.

We didn’t even touch upon how much money some companies make off the backs of our info. Social media has so many different facets now that one topic is such a winding rabbit hole. Who though it would become this?

On a more positive note. If you maybe want to see some change for the better in your own life, regarding social media. Here are a social media user’s thoughts on some things they can do better after watching The Social Dilemma.

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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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