Summary of Learning

Last blog post of EC&I830

I learned A LOT this semester. Our group worked throughout the semester to note key learnings. When we met to actually put together the final product we had much more than we needed. We needed to pick the most important aspects and try to showcase them in the best way possible. For our debate, we used iMovie and wanted to try to something different for our summary of learning. We chose Adobe spark. We had some challenges with recording and saving but little problems are to be expected with technology. I am very proud of our final product as I think it does a good job of showcasing the most important concepts of the semester.

Please check out our Summary of Learning! 

The main thing I took away from the course is that we as teachers need to prepare our students for their future by helping them build a positive digital identity and become smart digital citizens.

Have a great summer Alec & fellow EC&I830 colleagues!

Social Media IS Ruining Childhood

The following video gives facts to support this argument.

Social media limits the ability for kids to navigate spontaneous social interactions. Instead of chatting with someone on the bus, their comfort zone is to pull out their cell phone to avoid the conversation or putting headphones on usually means I don’t want to talk, which in turn does not strengthen face to face relationships and communication skills. Kids don’t always have the experience to know how to initiate conversations, maintain a conversation, and make small talk, they become dependent on their phone to entertain them. Social media doesn’t teach the life skill to help prepare kids for dealing with conflict face-to-face. Kids might say something that doesn’t come out quite right, and they need to learn how to manage that situation. When non-verbal is missing it can lead to miscommunication, kids are missing out on practicing communication.

Social media sites offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years. For this reason, it is important to become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents. The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, addresses and encourages healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems with cyber-bullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content.

Depending on how social media is being used and can harm students struggling with mental health because it is taking away from meaningful face-to-face interaction with friends and family. Kids are not disconnecting which leads to sleep deprivation, one in five children admit to waking up in the middle of the night and looking at social media. Health is being negatively impacted if kids are passively engaging in social media, such as “lurking” or scanning other people’s profile instead of actively engaging with the content. As educators we need to discourage using social media in ways such as oversharing or stress posting for the purpose of increasing self-esteem or gaining social support. Kids are not always using creditable resources for support and learning purposes.

Peer acceptance is very important to adolescents. Although teens may be connecting with others in new ways, this also brings new opportunities for teens to feel unaccepted by peers. An Instagram picture that only gets a few “likes” may make a child feel unaccepted by peers; a rude comment on Facebook can lower a child’s self-esteem dramatically. Kids start defining themselves by the responses of others instead of their own self-worth. Their confidence and self-esteem can suffer. Their autonomy can lead to unsupervised risky behaviours at a much younger age which can also have a negative effect on their digital identity.

Cyber-bullying is on the rise.  Teens are either a witness to cyber-bullying, are victims or become perpetrators. The impact of cyber-bullying is grossly underestimated. Teen Cyberbullying and Social Media Use on the Rise, explores interesting facts and stats surrounding cyber-bullying. Signs and symptoms of detecting cyber-bullying in children are listed. As well, two videos are posted on this site including, “What are the Real Effects of Cyber-bullying?”, and “End Cyber-bullying 2015”.

Cyberbullying: Identification, Prevention, & Response, expertly discusses what cyber-bullying is, how it happens and what negative effects occur for kids. Some stats are provided and comparison is made between cyber-bullying and traditional bullying. Obstacles for the prevention of cyber-bullying such as outright dismissal or denial by parents, teachers and law enforcement. Parents need to better monitor their kid’s online behavior. Actions to prevent cyber-bullying in school are listed.

Over half of adolescence and teens are faced with cyber-bullying and about the same amount have engaged in cyber-bullying behaviourCyber-bullying is basically using technology to harass, threaten, humiliate or otherwise hassled their peers. Common types of cyber-bullying include: exclusion, cyber-stalking, gossiping, outing/trickery, and harassment, impersonation, and cyber threats. Because of youths limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure children are at risk as they navigate and experiment with social media. There are many detrimental outcomes associated with cyber-bullying. Youth report feeling depressed, sad, angry, and frustrated. They feel hurt both physically and mentally. It takes away their confidence and makes them feel worthless. They also may be afraid or embarrassed to go to school. 71% of teen use more than one social network and 21% said the main reason they checked social media often was to make sure nobody was saying anything mean. In addition research shows a link between cyber bullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic difficulties, school violence and various delinquent behavior. Finally cyberbullied youth also report having suicidal thoughts.

Children and parents may also be unaware of the minimum age rules on social media. Six out of ten parents of kids who use Facebook didn’t know there was a lower age restriction or wasn’t sure what age it was set as. Nearly eight out ten parents whose kids use Instagram were not able to give the correct guidelines and the majority did not know the age restriction on Snapcash. Those social media sites require users to be 13 years old, while about 50% of children 10-12 years old have a social media profile.

To stay with the topic of Social media and not technology as a whole, Social media is meant for ‘entertainment purposes’.  It doesn’t make children smarter or teach life skills; nor is it needed for healthy social development. It is pure entertainment attached to a marketing platform, which extracts personal information and preferences from a child every time they use it. As well as takes hours of their time and attention. Social media replaces learning the hard social skills of dealing face-to-face with peers, which children need to practice to be successful in real life.

We need to teach the use of SM, for the purpose of social connection with supportive friends, for content creation and identity exploration. While one can argue that there are certain benefits of social media for kids, the costs are very high during the pre-adolescent years when their brains are still developing. It is easy for kids to waste too much of their time and too much of their brain in a digital world.

As educators, we need to inform children to see what dangers exist in social media and encourage them that there are healthier forms of entertainment, such as playing outside with friends or sports activities. Social media amplifies some of the effects on young people’s natural tendency to risk taking, fueled by notions of overnight internet fame or instant popularity.   Permanent negative digital footprints are being developed as a result of posting risky information. Research shows a link between cyber-bullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic difficulties, school violence and various delinquent behavior. Cyber-bullied youth report having suicidal thoughts. Children and parents may be unaware of the minimum age rules on social media, leaving kids exposed to the dangers of using such sites at too young of an age.

 

Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Our Kids?

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Parents love sharing pictures of their children and it is becoming more popular amongst teachers as well. This raises the question, should adults (parents and teachers) gain consent from children to post pictures? 70% of adults believe that it’s not okay to post photos of anyone else; including children without their permission. Also 56% of parents avoid ever posting pictures of their children online. Some dangers of posting online include that 50% of the images posted on paedophile sites were sourced from parent’s social media profiles and that 51% of parents post information online that could lead to an identification of the child’s location at a given time. (Wangle Family Insites)

It is important to take into consideration that, each time a photo or video is uploaded, it creates a digital footprint of a child which can follow them into adult life. Some children may have a negative connotation with social media, and may use strategies to minimize their digital footprint instead of positively building their digital identity. Employers are increasingly using digital footprints as a means of verifying identity and perceived suitability for a position. A lack of digital footprint can be as damaging as one badly managed.  So, are we setting our students up for success? Educators at all levels are instrumental in building students’ understanding about how technology impacts both their personal and future professional lives. Educators are also instrumental in helping students develop lifelong habits to create and maintain a positive online identity. Students will need to participate in these learning networks to stay on top of their fields of interest and to advance their careers. Educators need to lead by modelling transparency, network literacy, sharing, and participation, underpinned by ethical and social responsibility. (Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity)

Even if teachers themselves are not sharing picture of their students online, student information is still being shared. For example, if a school uses PowerSchool their personal information is shared with Pearson, if the school uses Google Apps, then their information gets shared with Google, if a school uses iPad programs, then their information is shared with Apple. These vendors may have terms of service that allow them to share information with affiliates and partners. With that personal details are an asset and could be sold. Data Collection

Social media is also used in teacher education for sharing content, discussing, and collaborating. Leveraging the power of social media for social learning is increasingly recognized as a key skill for teachers. Uses of social media for educators include the production and sharing of content, discussion and interaction with content, and collaborative connection with other social media users. Professionals in the 21st century use social media to promote their professional selves and to network in pursuit of lifelong learning and professional development. (Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education)

Some issues and challenges that teachers have with social media is skepticism, when faced with social media, educators sometimes respond with cynicism that detracts from open mindedness. Sometimes teachers lead ahead to try things out with students before they have invested in their own professional learning. Teachers are cautioned not to rush to use social media with students, but instead to take time to try out the tools and social media environment, for professional learning, in order to become more familiar with the risks and possibilities. There are many horror stories about mismanagement of online identity and loss of professional integrity due to oversharing. I feel nervous to completely adopt social media apps in my classroom for sharing because I do not want to do something wrong. I don’t want to put my students at risk if the unintended audience sees the posts. On the other hand, I can see the educational advantages to social media including that it can improve communication among students and between teachers and students, it is used to promote students’ engagements and they may feel more comfortable to express their creativity and value their opinions on a social network website, and it’s may foster collaboration as they allow students to work together to achieve a common goal. Educating for Ethical Use of Social Media

As educators trying to keep up with this tech savvy world it is important to remember to utilise privacy controls and ensure that the image can only be viewed by a closed group, be mindful of metadata and turn off geolocation enabled services and always seek permission from parents before posting images which include their children.

 

Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled?

Knowledge@Wharton argues that the objective of education is learning, not teaching. Keeping that in mind, it makes me wonder, does it really matter how students are learning as long as they are indeed learning? The article also poses the question, why should students be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can? In some ways, I can agree with this. On the other hand, if this was followed then people would solely and heavily rely on technology more than they already do. Teaching can be a powerful tool for learning. When you teach or explain something you must gather enough information to understand the topic. You will also find your own worldview on the topic that fits into their personal frame of reference for understanding the world around them. So, if students are able to google to help find information there needs to be followed up with teaching and passing that learning on in a productive way.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? makes some good point on how people’s concentration tends to drift when reading. People are reliant on the quickness of the web. With a quick google search, you can easily find the information or answer you need without spending all the time looking it up at the library in a book. The net is becoming a universal medium. With this, the capacity for concentration and contemplation is dwindling. The article references the “power browse”. With the ubiquity of text on the internet and the popularity of text messages society is reading more than they did in the 80’s. We are now just changing the way we read. With an emphasis on efficiency and immediacy, we simply are decoding the information. Google seeks to develop the perfect search engine which it defines as something that, “understands exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want. In googles view, information is a kind of commodity, a utilitarian resource that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency. The more pieces of information we can “access” and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers”.

A positive side of technology is it can help develop student’s critical thinking skills. According to Jessica Mansbach, cognitive skills at the foundation of critical thinking are analysis, interpretation, evaluation, explanation, inference, and self-regulation. When students think critically they actively engage in communication, analysis, synthesis, problem-solving, evaluation and reflection. Some ways to use online tools to teach critical thinking skills include; reflection activities which provide students with the opportunities to track their learning and demonstrate progress. Using a google doc is an easy way for students to share their reflections and teachers to comment. Peer review activities enable students to demonstrate communication skills by giving feedback on each other’s work, expose students to alternative perspectives, and allow students to question what they are reading. Discussion forums also allow students to communicate with their peers. Small group activities help student’s problem solve, hear different perspectives and collaborate, and digital storytelling activities allow students to evaluate, reflect on, or analyze course content.

Critical thinking is an evaluable skill that students need to be successful in their professional and personal lives. Teachers can be thoughtful and purposeful about creating learning objectives that promote lower and higher level critical thinking skills and about using technology to implement activities that support these learning objectives.

-Jessica Mansbach (2015)

In RCSD we teach students how to be digital citizens. There are modules that teach students how to be safe online, what not to share, how to comment, etc. On top of that, a more in-depth teaching is required if students are wanting to use technology for academics. Leslie Harris O’Hanlon provides some good tips for teaching students better online research skills. Although technology can be a wonderful resource especially in the classroom there is a need for teaching students how to use the information properly. Some take all information as fact when it might just be someone personal opinion. The curriculum should include some technology related outcomes. Students need to evaluate the credibility of a website, how to use precise keywords and how to better use search engines and databases. Students today don’t have the digital literacy skills to wade through the information. Therefore, digital literacy should be incorporated into the school curriculum. Students can learn how to search smart and knowing keywords, how to choose search engines such as Google Scholar, and how to evaluate websites. Students can ask themselves questions such as who wrote this and what is the perspective of the person who wrote this? They would need to know what a commercial or advertisement looks like online and know that websites can be biased. To help decide whether sites are creditable students can look if there are dead links, do images support the stated facts, are there links and references to other websites, and are there resources and experts that corroborate the information?

So, where do I stand on the question; Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled? I disagree. I think that digital literacy is important, and rather than trying to teach things that can’t be googled we could be teaching students how to use technology effectively and help prepare them for this technology-filled world.

Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning?

Technology in the classroom can

  • Improve access to teachers and students to more up to date learning resources and to materials at any time and anywhere
  • Enhances communication and feedback between teachers, students, and parents
  • Restructure teacher time. There is less time on whole class instruction, marking, tracking and reporting
  • Extend purpose and audience for student work
  • Shifts teacher and student roles. It decreases the reliance on the teacher to provide answer and content and shift the role of guiding students to manage their own learning

(McKnight, O’Malley, Ruzic, Horsley, Franey & Bassett, 2016)

  • Creates fast and easy access to information resources, which can engage the user through interactivity and make it ways to process, analyze and share information

(Smithee)

  • May lower school costs, make marking more efficient and even raise student satisfaction

(Maclean’s, 2010)

  • Allow you to experiment more in pedagogy and get instant feedback
  • Helps ensure full participation
  • Countless resources for enhancing education and making learning more fun and effective
  • Technology can automate a lot of tedious tasks
  • Students have instant access to fresh information that can supplement their learning experience
  • It is a life skill

(Himmelsbach, 2018)

On the other hand

  • Equipping a classroom with computers or supplying the entire student body with technology is a significant cost. Along with the intimal cost, there are costs for maintaining networks, maintaining the computers and routinely upgrading hardware and software. Bring your own device may not be an option as families may not be able to afford it.
  • The time taken away for training teachers to keep their computer skills up to date takes time away from teachers being able to teach.
  • Students might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject and complete the project knowing very little about the subject. Participation and enthusiasm do not necessarily lead to learning. E-texts can be less interactive than paper textbooks. May not allow highlighting, notes, etc.
  • Games on devices, text messaging, email and websites all compete for student’s attention, taking away from what they should be focusing on. Students can also be exposed to inappropriate online materials or predators in online places such as chat rooms.

(Smithee)

  • No evidence that technology actually leads to higher marks for students.
  • Students who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that laptop use posed a significant distraction to both users and fellow students. The level of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning.
  • Texting students took longer to perform simple tasks such as reading a written passage than those who did not.
  • PowerPoint lectures and clickers had no discernable impact on marks.
  • Can’t produce better grades.

(Maclean’s, 2010)

  • Can be a distraction
  • Can disconnect students from social interactions
  • Can foster cheating in class and on assignments
  • Don’t have equal access to technological resources
  • The quality of research and sources they find may not be top-notch
  • Lesson planning might become more labor-intensive with technology

(Himmelsbach, 2018)

Overall

It is important to set strict rules of acceptable conduct or blocking access when it’s not appropriate. There is a difference between integrating wireless devices into the curriculum and simply inviting students to bring whatever tech they may have to class. Keep in mind, not every student owns a smartphone.

We know, technology will never replace the timeless need for skilled teachers capable of catching the attention of easily distracted students and engaging their minds.

(Maclean’s, 2010)

The key to technology in the classroom is always going to be the teacher-student relationship because that’s where education happens. Technology can be a highly effective tool; sensible use of technology can enhance education. Can create a flexible environment that breeds innovation. Technology in education can open does to new experiences, new discoveries and new ways of learning and collaborating.

(Himmelsbach, 2018)

 

Source Citations

“Don’t give students more tools of mass distraction.” Maclean’s, 4 Oct. 2010, p. 6+. Expanded Academic ASAP, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A238750345/EAIM?u=ureginalib&sid=EAIM&xid=df9d3fda. Accessed 21 May 2018.

McKnight, K., O’Malley, K., Ruzic, R., Horsely, M. K., Franey, J. J. & Bassett, K. (2016). Teaching in a digital age: How educators use technology to improve student learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 48:3, 194-211.

Himmelsback, V. (2018). 6 pros & cons of technology in the classroom 2018. Top Hat. https://tophat.com/blog/6-pros-cons-technology-classroom/. Accessed 21 May 2018.

Smithee, T. Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom. It Still Works. https://itstillworks.com/negative-effects-using-technology-todays-classroom-1549.html. Accessed 21 May 2018.