Monday, 20 June 2016

Summary of Learning

The great debates were an amazing way to get through the topics Alec and Katia designed for us this semester.  

Debate #1 Technology in the classroom enhances learning.

The first week started out with me having an amazing opportunity to work with a couple of outstanding individuals,  Erin Benjamin and Jeremy Black prepared for battle with our topic of Technology in the classroom enhances learning.  We felt that we had an easy topic which being in a tech class should have transitioned into a smooth victory…  Not exactly what we had planned.  Steve, Chalyn and Kayla did an outstanding job laying out the negatives that can be felt in any classroom regarding technology.  The largest piece for me was Chalyn’s Wordle around the difficulties with technology within a public school setting. Things such as not enough devices, wifi down, or students being more distracted, are all situations every teacher can understand.   This debate set the tone for the remaining battles.  

Debate #2 Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled.

Before this debate around teaching googlable material, I was pro Googling.  As the debate proceeded I began to contemplate why I was all for Googling.  The argument around memorization and the lack of ability to do simple repetitive tasks I agree with 100%, but at the same time our students need to learn how to find information in the world today.  The access to this information has never been faster or easier, what we need to do is teach our students the appropriate methods of inquiry, and educate them how to find GOOD information.  There is a pro side for google able material though.  Who needs the memorize the multiple different ways to cite via MLA, APA, Chicago, etc., or memorizing fun facts like the important dates of the war of 1812.  These things are important, but not as important as the process it takes to find out how/what these things are.  

Debate #3 Technology is making our kids unhealthy

The debate around Technology is making our kids unhealthy gets me going every time.  Society seems to find a reason for poor choices.  Are we as healthy as we were 50 years ago.  Science shows that we are living longer, but we are more aware of diseases.  Are there things we could be doing to ensure we take better care of ourselves.  Yes, of course.  Is it technologies fault that we are making poor choices.  Nope.  Teachers, parents, children need to make healthy choices when using their technology.  The 5 Crazy Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain Right Now video was very interesting, but again it comes down to personal choices you are making for yourself, or the example you are setting for your students or children.  

Debate #4 Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.

How much to share? What are we allowed to share?  Who is allowed to make the decision for the student?  This was one of my favorite debate topics.  As the Techy teacher in my school, I am usually the go to for how to and what program to use for a variety of teachers.  I use my Twitter, I blog, and use GAFE for almost every assignment.  How do I develop my students digital footprint that they will be proud of, and will not have a negative effect on their future.  The great conversations that happened that evening and the blogs I read through Alec’s tweet were awesome. There are a multitude of good ideas out there for how to protect youth, some are pipe dreams and others are simply overly complicated, but they all boil down to, the role models for the students need to help guide them in their choices as to what they should be putting online.  The students need to be OK with what you are posting, and you need to have parent consent.  The conversation needs to take place at any age, and the weight of consent will change from young to old, but in any situation the answer needs to be yes from all parties involved when being open and sharing anything about kids.  

Debate #5 Technology is a force for equity in society.

Equity is not the same a Equality.  There is a large variance of equity due to technology.  If you live in the right area, you are afforded more opportunity.   Those areas are improving, and the use of technology is improving those areas drastically.  For those living the in more remote locations or underdeveloped places within the world, then technology is not exactly as beneficial as it is for those in more of an urban area.  Within the urban areas, there are still issues, such as funding inequalities, lack of training for the technologies, poor infrastructure that limits the capabilities.  These are all very real situations, but as an educator I feel it is our responsibility to do our best to incorporate technology into the students lives as much as possible.    

Debate #6 Social media is ruining childhood.

This debate around whether or not social media is ruining childhood got me using my parent hat more than my teacher hat.  I want to see my child and my students have every opportunity available for them.  We need to monitor and ensure that our kids, and students are using the tools safely and properly.  I love to share things about my daughter Lily, but am I oversharing? Will what I share make her feel uncomfortable in the future? Shannon shared her thoughts about children losing their innocence of childhood through the over sexualization of today’s society.   As a grade ⅞ teacher I have this conversation often in the fall and spring and soon enough I am sure I will have it as a parent as well.  Whatever hat I have on I know that the conversations around using social media need to be open and consistent to ensure the safety of children.  To do this, we need to teach what is now become and multifaceted citizenship concept, not only face to face but digital, within our classes.  

Debate #7 Public education has sold its soul to corporate interests in what amounts to a Faustian bargain.

As Dean Shareski suggested, schools should develop relationships with corporations, especially ones that have the students best interests in mind.  Yes all corporations want to make money, but there are corporations out there with a high level of integrity and are willing to partner with the educators, versus organizations that are in the field of education simply to make money.  Organizations that help work with groups like STEM programs, or GAFE are amazing, because they are designed to enhance the learning for the student, while giving the teacher the autonomy to make the decisions of how to use their tools.  

Topic #8 We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

We have not yet heard this debate, but throughout the course and the pre-readings I am going to say that, yes we need to get away from technology from time to time. Like many of the other debates, the motto of appropriate use, and monitoring how we are using the technology is very important. I love the summer for this, as I plan on going fishing, walks, and simply generally being outside in the sun with friends and family enjoying each others company.