Living in a World of Phantom Vibrations

This weeks debate on whether we have become to dependent on technology is a topic in which I have struggled with.  I often feel like a hypocrite when discussing this topic because I take a firm stance that we have become to dependent on technology, but am often tied to my phone or other devices.  I believe that especially our students have become to dependent on technology and need to unplug because they are often missing the things around them.  They will be out at a concert, at a park or even sporting event and instead of watching the event through their own eyes they need to make sure to film it so that others can see what they are doing.  Do not get me wrong, I am not against having technology, I  just believe that we do need to use it in moderation and it should not control our lives (easier said then done). Once again in saying this, I openly admit that I have become a slave to technology often feeling naked if I have left my phone at home or feel “phantom vibrations” in my pocket when my phone is nowhere near me.

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Throughout the debate the disagree team did a great job of discussing that it is nearly impossible to unplug from technology because we live in an augmented reality and the individuals we are online and offline are the same.  This stance took me by surprise and was one that I have never truly thought of before, but after giving it some thought it makes complete sense.  Instead of being a local citizen, students are now global citizens connected to others all over the world.  They have immediate information about what is going on around the world within a click of a button.  Also, Your online identity follows you wherever you are.  The person you are online no impacts how people view you offline.

The agree side did a great job to combat this view.  They argued that technology has had a major impact on our relationships. We are often missing out on the fundamentals of communication.  Like my debate partner Logan mentioned in our debate on social media, 93 percent of communication is non verbal.  With this in mind only 7 percent of effective communication can be transferred through technology.  Although technology does offer more avenues for friendships to be formed, these friendships do not offer what a human needs.  The agree side posted an extremely moving video on how technology is impacting us, it discusses all the issues that over use of technology has had on us.  It had such an impact on me that I posted it below.

Overall, in my opinion as a society we do need to unplug more.  I am not saying that we need to unplug all the time, but like all things we need to use technology in moderation.  Technology should be used as a tool, it should not be our life.  Talking about this topic I honestly do feel like a hypocrite.  As I am writing this post I am constantly looking at my phone to see if I have notifications or emails from school. This summer can not come soon enough where I can unplug and relax and enjoy what is going on around me.  This debate has made me realize that I need to take a break from technology and get back to face to face communication.  Thanks to all that participated in this debate, great job!

I want to end this post by saying what a great class and thank you to everyone who made this class a success.  Thank you Alec and Katia for the experience!

And That’s a “Rap”!

Wow! Hard to believe this semester has already come to an end. We (Carter and Amy) wanted to try something fun and creative for our summary of learning. We tried our hand at rapping and rewrote the lyrics to “Baby Got Back” our version is appropriately called “Baby Got Tech”. We had a lot of fun writing the lyrics, our biggest challenge came when it was Carter’s turn to rap the lyrics. Turns out he has zero rhythm and after about 25 takes we decided the only way we were going to make this happen was if Amy took the lead on the vocals!

Thanks everyone for a great semester, and enjoy our video 🙂

-Amy and Carter

The good, the bad and the greedy!

This debate was one of the hardest of the semester for me to choose which side I wanted to vote for (this says a lot about how both teams did such a great job).  First off, I want to start off by saying that I do have a mistrust towards corporations, and the reason for this is because I instantly think about corporations who will do anything to make money. Now the question is, does this change in education?  Along with the agree side I instantly think of big textbook corporations such as Pearson who shape what a lot of teachers teach and materials that go into teachers hands.  On top of this, one idea that I found extremely interesting that was brought forward by the agree team was the video that introduced the money involved in testing in the United States.  This video touches on the idea that Pearson makes money on standardized tests, and continues to make money every time a student has to retake the test. Instantly I start to think, what benefits Pearson more, a student to pass the test or retake the test.  Obviously for a student to retake the test so they can recharge the student another fee.  This was a real eye opener for me and something that I was not aware of.

As with everything in life, there is another side to the story.  This being that there are corporations out there that do benefit the student and increase learning in the classroom.  A couple great examples of this that we use daily at my school are mathletics and discovery education.  Although these are corporations they offer a great service, increase learning and benefit the student greatly.  In my opinion an important evaluation of a corporation in education is whether they are truly making an effort to improve a students education and making improvements to their product. So once again I am torn about what I believe because corporations do have an important place in school, but there are still corporations in education that are out only to make money.

Another important idea that came out of this debate was from Dean.  Dean explained the importance of relationships between corporations and education.  I believe this takes us right back to the idea that if a corporation is truly invested in a students learning they will be willing to make connections and relationships.  Due to these relationships and connections, corporations in it for the right reason will take feedback and be available for educators to ask questions about their product.

In summary, I still do not know where I stand in accordance to corporations and public schools.  Once again there will always be corporations who are in it strictly for money and no other reason, but there are those corporations whose product and customer service are just as important.  This was an interesting debate because I was swayed back and forth over and over again.  It was great to hear from voices outside of our class.  This is a topic that I believe will never go away and will always be a hot topic inside of schools.  Thanks for reading and see you in the next debate!

Technology creating equity…Just not there yet

This weeks first debate was well done by both sides.  The idea of technology being an equalizer in society has been a topic that has had me wondering all week. Both sides had very good points that had me swaying back and forth between sides.  The agree side of Bob and Katherine argued that technology can be seen as the great equalizer.   While on the disagree side, Ian and Ainsley argued that it was creating more of a divide.

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To be totally honest I am leaning toward the idea that technology actually widens the equity gap.  The reason for this is I teach at a school where a lot of my families do not have access to technology at home.  For technology to become an equalizer it must be in the hands of all people equal amounts.  Yes, schools do offer technology and try to use it to narrow the gap, but when students who are from a home where technology is not accessible at all times they do not have the opportunities that privileged students have.  This is not equity.  On the other hand I feel that technology has the possibility to narrow the gap in equity, but cannot until all of society has access to technology at all times.  Unfortunately this sounds impossible and will probably never be reality.  Technology can be a tool, but not everyone can afford this tool.

An interesting point made from one of the readings from the disagree side came from blog : Ed Tech’s Inequalities, it stated that;

“40% of K–12 schools in the US do not have WiFi. 36% of schools with WiFi say that they do not have enough bandwidth to support one-to-one initiatives.”

This clearly helps resemble the idea that not all things can be equal.  How can we attempt to say technology creates equity, when statistics prove that not everyone has the same access or opportunities as others?

As I move on in my teaching career, I hope that I will see the move towards technology creating equity.  Unfortunately, in my opinion we are not there yet.  As schools, we can only control access to technology at schools and not in the home, until this changes students will not have equal opportunity to technology

Debating Social Media…Was that Fun!

During this weeks class I had a blast! I enjoyed every minute of debating alongside my fellow teammates Amy and Logan. Our debate topic was Social media is ruining childhood and we were arguing for the agree side. We spent numerous hours preparing our arguments focusing on our main ideas of Social Media is ruining childhood by creating mental health issues, is an easy outlet for cyberbullying and is ruining the way we communicate.

To start off with I want to say that this was a hard topic to debate because I do see many positives that social media creates for our children. Along side this we had two very worthy opponents in Ellen and Elizabeth.  Coming into this debate our group discussed thoroughly what angles we thought that these two would come at us with and felt very prepared to counter. They did a great job of coming up with ideas that we were not expecting or overlooked focusing strongly on the obligation of schools and parents to educate children about social media, and the positive qualities and opportunities that it provides. Once again what a great experience and our group does owe a huge thanks to these ladies as well.

Although in the previous paragraph I did say that I do see many positives that social media has to offer, I still strongly feel that it is ruining our children’s upbringing. In a sense I feel that children are living through the lens of their phone, they are so preoccupied with capturing a memory or moment that they often do not see it through their own eyes.  They are concerned with what others will have to say about this “experience”.  I briefly brought up the point in our debate about a camping trip that I recently took my students on.  They were so concerned with finding service so they could stay connected with social media that they missed out on a lot of what was going on around them.

Another huge concern that I have with social media is the outlet it creates for cyberbullying.  Do not get me wrong, there has always been bullies and always will be, but social media does not allow you to escape bullying in your own home.  It follows you wherever you are and creates a very public and wide audience.  We discussed the idea that social media gives a voice to those that would not regularly have a voice, but unfortunately it can create anonymity for people to harass and belittle, often these people cyberbullying would not have the courage to do it face to face.

Once again, I want to emphasize that I am not completely against social media and do believe it offers many positive things.  Unfortunately I do feel that in many cases children are not mature enough to handle it in an appropriate way. The argument came up that it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to educated the youth on how to use social media.  I agree… although often times we do not know what apps or social media the kids are using until it is “not cool” anymore and the damage is done.  New outlets for social media are coming out daily.

To end off I want to restate how great of an experience this debate was and look forward to the debates to come.  I will leave you with our closing statement video.  Logan interviewed some of his high school students on the argument, and what they told us was exactly what we expected to hear.  The information that we received confirmed the belief that social media is negatively impacting our students.

 

 

The Importance of Digital Footprints to our Students

Coming into EC&I830 I did not know what to expect.  I have always been leery of posting my thoughts, opinions and pictures online for others to see and judge.  I have been cautious of protecting my digital footprint and limiting what there is to be “Googled” about my name.  With this in mind I have also been extremely tentative about posting my students work. After a few weeks of this course I have seen the value of sharing ideas online, and being able to draw valuable information out from my fellow classmates.

This weeks debate “Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids”, saw two great teams post very valuable information coming from both sides of the argument.  Although the voting seemed to be lop sided with the disagree team winning the debate with 83% of the votes, in my opinion it was a lot closer then it appeared.  Both teams did a GREAT job of arguing their stance.

Lisa, Haiming, and Stephanie  of the disagree team argued the idea that sharing and openness online in the classroom is a great way to stay connected with families and the community. They took the stance that we are now in a time where everybody will have a digital footprint, and it is important for the schools to teach the students how to protect their digital footprint.  Instead of the school taking a defensive stance on digital identity, we must be proactive and teach our students how to post positive and valuable information.  Like I said earlier,  I had previously had the mentality that the less there was about you online the better your digital footprint would be.  After reading the article posted by the disagree side, Teachers, Take Care of your Digital Footprint, my opinion has changed. Within the article it talks about the idea “If you aren’t controlling your footprint, others are” (para 4). This really spoke to me. I had never thought of this before, and hate the idea that others can shape my footprint. Once again, I now believe that it is important to have a positive and active digital footprint online for my students and myself, instead of not having one at all.  

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Although I did get swayed towards the disagree team side, Kelsie, Danielle, and Shannon of the agree team did argue some persuasive points.  The argument that stuck with me the most from their debate was the idea that digital footprints are permanent and stick with students forever.  When is the appropriate age for a student to be able to have control of their own digital footprint over the teachers choice of what to post? They also had a convincing argument about privacy issues online for students and their families. They also posted a powerful video from their research, How to Think About Digital Tattoosa TED Talk featuring Juan Enriquez.  Juan talks about what we post online being permanent like tattoos and often what is posted online tells more then we want the world to know about. 

Throughout the short time in this course I have learned a lot about technology and the importance of technology in the classroom, but maybe nothing as important as what I have learned from Tuesday’s debate.  I have had my opinion change about digital footprint and the importance of becoming a positive online citizen.  Instead of remaining silent and keeping my online footprint at a minimal I will now strive to create a positive footprint for myself and teach my students about the importance of creating a positive footprint as well.  During the upcoming year I will increase my sharing with parents (with permission), and look into setting up a blog for my students to share their ideas with each other and others within our community.  Great debate, I appreciate all the sharing and help!

 

Using Technology in Moderation for a Healthy Lifestyle

Once again coming into last Tuesday’s debates I was heavily leaning towards one side of the debate, and once again I was swayed and pulled somewhere near the middle.  Both debate groups did on excellent job of presenting current and powerful information to help support their ideas in this debate.  Debate number 3’s topic being “Technology is making our kids unhealthy. Agree or Disagree? 

Agree with the Agree

Coming into this debate I strongly felt that technology had become a negative impact on our students health and wellbeing.  As a teacher of grade 7 and 8 students I have grown leery of asking the question “what did you do all weekend?” because I was constantly getting the same answer, “played video games all weekend.” I was beginning to believe that technology was robbing our students of healthy opportunities to get outside and be active.  Being active and involved in sports growing up, I have always found it interesting how students would rather play sports video games then call up friends and organize outdoor sports for themselves.  I have a classroom full of boys who love basketball, but would rather play NBA 2k16 then go out and play for themselves.

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On top of the video games creating a negative impact on students wellbeing, Social media and cell phones are also having a negative impact.  Not only are they creating an environment where student’s time is being drained, but it also has an impact on their psychological wellbeing.  In a video posted by the agree side, Five Crazy Ways Social Media is Changing Your Brain Right Now, it explains how social media can have the same effects on your brain as drugs.  This addiction results in the need to be followed or follow others on social media.

Also, in today’s society technology is being treated as a babysitter.  In some instances parents will use technology as a distraction to keep their child entertained or busy.  Often when at a restaurant, instead of conversations being held at the table, they are replaced by everyone looking at their cellphones or tablets.  This will and does have an impact on social interaction and a child’s ability to properly engage in conversation with peers.

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The Disagree side had some great insights

Like I mentioned earlier I strongly felt that technology was having a negative impact on our students wellbeing.  That was until the disagree team convinced me that technology does have its positive impacts on health and wellbeing.  Once again I was found treading water somewhere in the middle on this topic.  The argument that got me the most was the idea of how technology has increased life expectancy greatly and offered modern medicine more readily to those who need it.  Without technology we would not have advanced so far in medicine.

Another idea that I truly felt was a benefit to the disagree side was that technology was not making our kids unhealthy, but the misuse of technology was.  There is an infinite amount of technology out there that is designed to increase mental wellbeing and healthy life styles.  The first that pops into my mind is the fitbit watches.  Not only do they monitor how active you are in a day, but encourage you to become more active.  Also, there are many tools that can be used in the classroom that encourage classes to be active and healthy.

Somewhere in the Middle

Although coming into the debate I was strongly favoring the agree side of the debate, towards the end I was somewhere near the middle.  Like everything, technology can be meant for a positive purpose, but if misused and overused it will have a negative impact on our children’s wellbeing.  Tuesdays debates were great and gave me a lot of things to think about moving forward in my classroom and life.