Final Thoughts on EDTC 400

Hello everyone!

This semester has completely flown by and I cannot believe that it is already the end of EDTC 400! I am struggling to remember that finals are already starting next week and that I do not have to go to class on Monday! Even though EDTC 400 is over, I know that I will be taking many of the things that I learnt with me. The debates introduced me to many new perspectives on topics such as “cellphones in the classroom”, “social media’s influence on childhood”, and “openness and sharing in schools”. I also was introduced to teaching online, with my mini-lesson project, during EDTC 400.

Along with taking away many things from the class meetings themselves, I have also learnt a lot outside of the class. A big part of EDTC 300 and EDTC 400 is learning how to develop our own PLN (Personal Learning Network). In EDTC 300, I was introduced to Twitter, blogging and Feedly as a way to begin to grow my PLN. In EDTC 400, we were tasked with going beyond the basic uses of Twitter and blogging. In EDTC 400, we were tasked with mentoring three students from the EDTC 300 class. Part of the task of being a mentor was commenting on the mentees’ blogs and encourage them on their blogs and on Twitter. We were asked to stay in touch with our mentees and comment on their blogs each week.

Photo Credit: Salm3n Flickr via Compfight cc

I’m not going to lie and say this was an easy task for me. I found being a mentor quite challenging because I did not think that I was an expert in educational technology, Twitter, or blogging after taking EDTC 300. I was excited to try mentoring, but I was worried that I would not know the answers to questions that my mentees might ask me.

Once I got into the mentoring, I did not find it as difficult as I initially thought. Once I introduced myself to my mentees and told them that I was available whenever they needed and contacting me over Twitter would be the best way possible. I found it very easy at the beginning to stay on top of reading my mentee’s blogs. I was able to comment on at least one or two blogs each week and I was able to juggle school and being a good mentee.

As the semester went on and an unexpected death in the family occurred, I found it more difficult to continue to stay on top of my other classes and their weekly assignments and commenting on my mentee’s blogs. Even though I did not always comment on my mentee’s blog every week, when I did have the time to sit down and read through my mentee’s blogs I ensured that I started reading right from where I left off. I always liked to go back to where I left off when I read through my mentee’s post because I wanted to see their journey as they progressed through EDTC 300.

I enjoyed being a mentor to my mentees and watching them progress through their EDTC 300 journey. I think it was very rewarding to watch some of my mentees start off not knowing much about educational technology to knowing even more than I do about educational technology. I enjoyed reading my mentee’s blogs as well because they mentioned some helpful hints and tricks about technology that either I have never heard about before or I forgot about from EDTC 300. I also found it very rewarding to give little helpful hints and tricks to my mentees when I thought they would need them.

This process of being a mentee was quite rewarding and challenging at the same time. I think this process really taught me about the importance of keeping on top of my schedule and assignments, even when I am having a difficult time juggling life and school.

Teaching in person is much different from teaching online.
Photo Credit: Robin Hutton Flickr via Compfight cc

This process also taught me that teaching an online class can be very difficult. It is very difficult to try to communicate with people online sometimes. It can also be very difficult to communicate and teach through typed words. Teaching in person (and speaking) can convey emotion and topics a lot better than getting students to read off a typed out document. Teaching in person also gives immediate feedback and responses, where teaching online does not.

Juggling time can sometimes be difficult
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This experience really taught me a lot of things, but most importantly, it taught me that teachers have a lot to juggle. High school teachers teach at least four to five classes a day, which means they have four to five classes to prepare for and grade assignments for. I think this semester as a whole, and especially EDTC 400, has taught me that teachers really have a lot to juggle. I think that once I become a teacher, I need to focus solely on teaching, not trying to juggle being a teacher and having a part time job on top of that.

I think moving forward, I learnt a lot from this experience of being a mentor. I have learnt that finding the time to juggle things is very important, but I also learnt that it can be quite rewarding to see someone learn and grow. Being a mentor was quite fun and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was only taking EDTC 400 so that I could put my full effort into being a good mentor and staying on top of the required assignments for EDTC 300. Overall, this was a great learning experience and I hope my mentees continue to grow as educators and are successful in their future endeavors.

Here are my mentee’s blog go check them out! Their learning projects are amazing!

Garrett Bates learnt how to speak Japanese and his blog is here.

Mackenzie Stamm learnt how to dance and her blog is here.

Jocelyn McGillvray learnt how to knit and her blog is here.

Here is a log of all the comments that I made on my mentees’ posts if you are curious.

Thanks for reading my blog post! I had an amazing semester with my fellow EDTC 400 classmates and I hope everyone has a great summer!

Ashley Osachoff

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Fighting Oppression Online?

Hello everyone!

This week has been very hectic. I had three major projects due this week, two of which were group projects. With so much due this week, I unfortunately did not get a lot of time to write my final debate blog. But, now that all of my major projects are done, I finally have had the time to sit down and write my final EDTC 400 debate blog. So without further adue, here is my EDTC 400 debate blog.

Last week, for the final EDTC 400 debate, the topic was “Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression: Agree or disagree?” The two debaters for this week were Jesse and Daniel. Jesse was on the agree side of the debate, while Daniel was on the disagree side of the debate. Fighting oppression and promoting social justice is a highly debated topic. The class really got into the debate this week and there was quite a good discussion going for most of the debate.

THe Debate

To begin the debate, the class participated in the typical (and final) pre-vote. For this week’s pre-vote, the class was leaning more towards Jesse’s side of the debate (the agree side). About 70% of the class was on the agree side and 30% was on the disagree side. I was on the opposite side of the class to begin this debate. To begin this debate, I did not think it was the teacher’s job to fight oppression and fight for social justice online. I did not think it was a teacher’s responsibility to voice their political values online or that online is the best spot to discuss social justice issues. I have always thought that teachers should stay as neutral as possible in order to not let biases enter the classroom.

Pre-Debate Vote

Jesse’s Side of the Debate

With this is mind, we started off the debate. The class first listened to Jesse’s debate video. Jesse was on the agree side of the debate. He had three main points for his video. They are:

  1. Why staying neutral is problematic
  2. Risks of staying silent online
  3. Using technology/social media effectively can be beneficial

Jesse’s video raised quite a few important points but the most important point that stuck out to me was Jesse’s comment that staying neutral is problematic. In ECS 210, we discussed a lot about neutrality and the issues of being neutral. One of the biggest things from ECS 210 and from Jesse’s video that stuck out to me is that being neutral is siding with the side that is being oppressive. By not speaking out and not fighting against oppression, people are siding with the sides that are being oppressive. Pretending that oppression and social justice issues do not happen is not benefiting students, it is actually harming them. By not speaking out against oppression and social justice issues, teachers are unintentionally stating that they are not issues and that they are okay. Sometimes, what teachers do not teach is more important than what they are teaching.

Daniel’s Side of the Debate

After Jesse’s video, the class watched Daniel’s video that discussed why teachers should not fight social justice issues and oppression online. Daniel’s video included four main reasons why he disagreed with the debate topic. Daniel’s four main topics are:

  1. Teachers are under constant scrutiny from the public (parents)
  2. The education system is political
  3. Students are easily influenced
  4. Teachers should have a neutral standpoint when teaching and allow students to think for themselves.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me from Daniel’s video was his comment that the education system is political. In ECS 200, we discussed a lot about the politics of the education system. In that course, we also discussed the influence of teacher’s lenses on students. A teacher’s opinion and political standpoint can greatly influence the lives of their students. Many teachers do not want to post political issues online because they are worried that it can be taken the wrong way by parents or employers. Many teachers believe that it is better to stay silent online about oppression and social justice issues rather than chancing the backlash from parents or employers. Daniel’s side of the debate really highlighted many of the concerns that I had when I first entered this debate.

The Debate

After hearing both sides of the debate, I was still on the fence as to which side I fully stood with. During the debate, I really heard some points that stuck out to me. The class discussed a lot about the difference between fact and opinion. Katia brought up a great topic that highlights the difference between fact and opinion; the flat Earth discussion. It is fact that the Earth is NOT flat, but some people have the opinion that the Earth is flat. This example really made it clear to me the difference between facts and opinions. When discussing the issue of oppression and social justice problems, it is fact that there is oppression and it is wrong, but some people have the opinion that there is no oppression in the world and that the world is fair. The class also discussed the issue of discussing controversial topics with students in the classroom. It is important for teachers to discuss social justice issues with students because as I stated during the debate, when teachers are “neutral” they are supporting the side that is oppressive. Teachers must encourage students to understand the difference between facts and opinions. Teachers must also teach students that oppression is something that people must fight against.

My Thoughts

Educators must realize that they play a big role in encouraging their students to fight against oppression and social justice issues. Teachers can play both a positive and negative influence on their students. Teachers must recognize the influence that they can have on their students. As discussed during the debate, teachers can sway students by only telling one side of the facts of an issue. Teachers must provide students will all of the information so they can make an informed decision. As many of the articles that Jesse shared discuss, being neutral in the classroom and online will not benefit students. These articles include Valerie Strauss’s article, Damir Mujezinovic’s article, and Tim Walker’s article. Many of these articles discuss the drawbacks for students when teachers stay neutral. Teachers must speak out against oppression and social justice issues both in their classroom and online.

Speaking out against social justice issues may look different for every teacher. For some teachers, speaking out and fighting against social justice issues may be getting their students to participate in a pipeline protest as Maryam Shah’s article discusses. For some teachers, speaking out against social justice issues may be sharing articles that support fighting against social justice issues. Teachers must fight against oppression and social justice issues both online and in the classroom, but teachers must be aware of what they are posting.

COnclusion

Overall, this debate really sparked some good discussion with the class and changed my views on the debate topic itself. As the discussion went on, I realized that I live in a digital world and in order to fully reach as many people as possible is to share things online. Sharing articles or websites that fight against oppression and social justice issues is a great way to inform my students and their parents that I am not neutral in social justice issues. As I stated above, neutrality is not the best option when discussing social justice issues. Being neutral and refusing to choose a side that is against oppression is actually choosing the side that is being oppressive.

Post Debate VOte

At the end of the debate, Jesse got a few more votes than he initially did. Below is a picture of the final class vote.

Final Thoughts

This debate topic was a great topic to end the class on. The class really got into the discussion and like almost every other debate topic, the importance of balance was mentioned once again. It is important that teachers are balanced when they discuss social justice issues and oppression. Teachers must give students all of the facts and allow students to develop their own stand on the issues. Teachers can and should be fighting oppression and social justice issues online. Teachers can do this in any manor they feel comfortable with. This can range from anything from sharing articles on social media, to organizing a protest.

Thank you for reading my blog post! If you have any comments leave them below!

Have a good summer everyone!

Ashley Osachoff

EDTC 400 Summary of Learning Project

Hello everyone!

Here is a video that summarizes some of the things that I learnt in EDTC 400. This class was filled with information and I could make an hour long video to describe all of the things that I learnt this semester, but I had to condense it into a short ten minute video. Here is the video that I made with Kylie Lorenz to summarize EDTC 400! I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for watching the video!

Ashley Osachoff

Should We Return to the “Good Old Days”?

Hello everyone!

This week in EDTC 400, we had our 8th debate. This week’s debate topic was “We have become too dependent on technology and we’d be better off returning to the “good old days” before the Internet and smartphones took over”. We had to either agree or disagree with this statement. Jayden was the debater on the agree side of the debate and Kiera was on the debater on the disagree side of the debate. This week’s debate was a bit different from most because this debate topic really connected many of the previous debate topics.

Pre-Debate VOte

Similar to the previous debates, the class voted on the debate prior to hearing the arguments from the debaters. Most of the class (about 77%) disagreed with this statement while some (23%) agree with the statement. This week I was on the majority side to begin. Prior to listening to the debate, I was on the disagree side. I did not think people would be better off without technology.

Debate 9 Pre-Vote

Jayden’s Side Of the DEbate

To start off the debate, the class watched Jayden’s video that argued that people HAVE become too dependent on technology and that we WOULD be better off returning to the ‘good old days’ before the internet and smartphones took over people’s lives. Jayden was very persuasive in her video and made four major points in her video. Jayden’s four major points that argued for the debate topic were:

  1. The internet and smartphones are affecting our mental and physical health.
  2. Society is losing skills once valued.
  3. Technology may not actually be beneficially for students.
  4. We’re missing important moments in life.

Some of the points Jayden made were arguments that I have already previously heard that argue against technology, but some of her points really stuck with me. Most people my age have heard from someone older than us that technology is ruining our lives. I have been told many times that my generation does not know how to go outside or have face-to-face conversations, but I do not think this is true. I know many people that love going outside and spending time away from technology. Even though this is not true for all people, there are some pitfalls to having technology.

Jayden’s beginning point in her video really surprised me. I did not realize so many people have ended up in the emergency room due to texting and not paying attention to their surroundings. I know that when I am at the University I see many people walking and texting without paying attention to where they are walking. It seems very plausible to me now that many people are getting injured due to not paying attention while texting.

Jayden’s final point made a really big influence on me. Many people are missing out on big moments in life due to being on their phone. The Ted Talk by Patrik Wincent that Jayden shared really tied into her final point. In this Ted Talk, Patrik Wincent discusses missing out on many important moments in his child’s life, and it hurt their relationship.

Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab Flickr via Compfight cc

Being on technology, such as smart phones or laptops, can really hinder the relationships people have with each other. I know that I always get frustrated when I am out with my friends or significant other and I am trying to have a face-to-face conversation with them and they are more focused on whatever is on their phone. I know this makes me feel that I am not worthy of a person’s time and I do not feel valued by a person when they would rather spend time on their phone than spend time with me.

Kiera’s Side Of the Debate

After the class watched Jayden’s video, the class watched Kiera’s video that argued that people HAVE NOT become too dependent on technology and that we WOULD NOT be better off returning to the ‘good old days’ before the internet and smartphones took over people’s lives. Kiera was also very persuasive in her video. Kiera’s video had four main points that argued there are many benefits to technology. Kiera’s four main points were:

  1. People are able to connect and collaborate with people from many different places.
  2. People are able to gain more power and opportunity.
  3. Technology makes things more efficient.
  4. The internet acts as a tool of facilitation.

Kiera’s video raised some points that I have already previously heard about why technology is good. Technology makes many things more efficient in life, such as finding directions and communicating quickly with others. Technology enables people to communicate with friends and family that do not live in the same city or region as them. Technology keeps me and many of my friends in contact with each other. I can easily send a text, or a snap on Snapchat to get into contact with my friends. Technology also enables people to have more opportunities. For example, people are able to take university courses online when they cannot get to the on campus classes.

One of the biggest things that stuck out to me from Kiera’s side of the debate was that technology was her discussion about how technology can connect people. Technology can connect people from all over the world. Technology can also enable people to communicate things that they are unable to communicate face to face. For example, as Nancy Lublin shares in her Ted Talk that Kiera shared, children are sending text messages to the company she worked at as a way to reach out to get help. Many students and young people feel more comfortable sending a text message to explain their feelings. Nancy Lublin sees the potential that technology can have on helping people reach out and get help. Texting is discrete and takes one to two minutes to send a message which makes it very appealing to young people.

The Debate Discussion

After listening to both sides of the debate, the class dove right in to the debate. During this week’s debate, the class discussed a lot about the influence that technology has had on our lives, both the good and the bad.

One of the biggest discussions that the class had was on our reliance on GPS. Many people my age, myself included rely heavily on GPS to navigate our ways through cities and highways. While GPS is a really handy tool to have in your literal pocket, it does not always work exactly the way it should. As mentioned in Brad Plumer’s article that Jayden shared, GPS relies on satellite signals to navigate and determine where a person is in the world. Sometimes satellite signals are not reliable or they are interrupted due to a number of reasons. Our class discussed some of the issues with GPS navigation or Google Maps. Most of the GPS systems require data to run when a person is not in Wi-Fi signal. The class also discussed the issue of GPS system sending them on crazy dirt roads or to the wrong place. I know that I have used Google Maps on many road trips and I know first-hand that sometimes the ‘fastest route’ that Google Maps wants me to take is a summer road that cannot be driven on during the winter, or it is a longer route from the main highway. GPS systems can be very helpful to people, but people must still have a general idea of where they are going in case their GPS system does not work.

Along with discussing the struggles of GPS systems, the class also discussed some of the benefits of technology. There are many benefits of technology, including access to research material. I know that most of the time when I am researching a topic, I will first look online to see if there are online articles and then I will look to see if there are any books online. Technology can benefit students in many ways,. Students have access to resources that are not available through printed text. Students also have access to online content that cannot be created through books or other technology free resources. For example, students with online access have access to educational games, videos, and apps that cannot be created without technology.

FINAL Poll

In the end, the final poll for the debate did not change much after the debate. About 65% of the class disagreed with the debate topic and 35% agreed. Below is a picture of the final debate poll.

Debate 9 Post Vote

FINAL Thoughts

Overall, this week’s debate topic really tied in many of the other debate topics. Technology has many benefits, but it also has drawbacks. Technology can offer people many opportunities and provides many benefits to everyday life. Technology enables me to stay in contact with many of my friends that do not live in the same city as I do, and also my friends that live close to me. Technology also enables me to be successful in school in many ways, including research topics for school, have access to homework assignments, have access to online textbooks, writing essays, and even participating in an online class (such as EDTC 400). Technology gives me many benefits but I know that technology must be used in moderation.

Photo Credit: wuestenigel Flickr via Compfight cc

Even though technology has many benefits for me, I know that there are some drawbacks to using technology. Technology can be very distracting and addicting. I know that I can sit on my phone for longer than necessary and have a hard time ignoring my phone when I need to get work done. Along with being distracting, technology can also cause people to lose skills that previous generations had that did not have technology. Many people do not know how to read a map, use polar navigation (i.e. North, South, East, and West), remember phone numbers, or cursive writing. The article by Tammy Robinson that Jayden shared lists many things that were once common-known skills that are no longer common among people due to the increase in technology. I personally don’t know how to navigate using the North, South, East and West directions, but I do know how to use a map and write in cursive handwriting. Even though many things are not as common due to the rise in technology, people can still learn the skills that were part of the “good old days” if a person wants to.

This debate left me stuck in the middle. I think technology is great and offers many benefits to my life and many other people’s lives. I think technology has made my life a lot easier. It would be difficult to complete get rid of technology now because the world revolves so heavily around technology. There are many drawbacks that come with technology, such as the mental health challenges, and people not learning the skills that were once seen as a necessity. Even though there are many drawbacks with technology, I believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I think technology is great when used in moderation. Technology can have many benefits, but the drawbacks can outweigh the benefits when technology is not used in moderation.

What are your thoughts on technology? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

Are Public Schools Selling their Souls to Corporations?

Hello everyone!

This week in EDTC 400, we had our seventh debate. Many schools now get funding from big corporations to buy educational technology, sporting equipment, and many other things that schools need that the government cannot fund. This week’s debate topic focused on this issue and was “Public education has sold its soul to corporate interests”. This week’s debaters were Liz and Shaleen. Liz argued that public education HAS sold its soul to corporate interests and Shaleen argued that public education HAS NOT sold its soul to corporate interests.

Pre-Vote

To start off this week’s blog, we had the usual pre-debate vote. This week’s vote was fairly even, but still swayed to the agree side. To start this debate I was on the majority side. Initially I agreed with the statement that public education has sold its soul to corporate interests. I did not know as much as Liz did about the influence that corporations have on schools, but I knew that big corporations have heavy influences on high schools and universities.

The Pre-Vote for EDTC 400 Debate 7

THe Agree Side – Liz

To start off the debate, the class watched Liz’s introduction video, which is below. Liz had five major ideas in her video, which are:

  1. The Common Core Standards – the implementation of standard core curriculum nation-wide is an issue.
  2. Standardized Testing – Corporations supply standardized tests and are making them more difficult so students will need to retake the test and the corporations make more money.
  3. Textbooks – Most textbooks are tailored to suit the needs of students from specific regions.
  4. Corporate Sponsorships – Corporations offer students opportunities and sponsorships but students are exposed to sugary drinks at an early age.
  5. Universities – Most corporate jobs require a university degree

Liz raised a lot of good points in her argument that I did not think of before watching her video and reading the articles she asked us to read after class. I did not realize that Pearson, which is a major textbook company in the United States also creates many of the standardized tests that students are required to pass in order to move on to the next grade. I did not realize that these tests cost between $15-30 per test as mentioned in the short video that Liz asked us to watch. When students fail these tests, they must retake them and then the company is getting another $15-30 for the retaken test. Making the standardized test more difficult ensures that less students are passing the test the first time and thus must retake the test to pass their grade. With more students retaking the tests, the company that is supplying the tests is making more money.

The Disagree Side – Shaleen

Even though Liz made a very good argument that argued that public education has sold its soul to corporations, Shaleen made a very good counterargument that argued that public schools have not sold their souls to corporations. The class watched Shaleen’s video, which is below. Her four main points are:

  1. Technology in the Classroom – In order to gain funding for expensive technology, such as iPads, or laptops that are used in classrooms, schools need funding from big corporations to buy the technology.
  2. Schools Determine Which Platforms the Use – With multiple companies and funding in educational technology, schools can choose which companies they would like to receive funding from.
  3. Schools are Moving Away from Bad Businesses – Schools are ending their contracts with companies such as Pearson.
  4. Ethical Consumptions – Every person uses technology, just like schools use technology in the classroom. If schools are selling themselves out to corporations, then so is every individual.

Shaleen made some very great points in her video. One of the biggest points that stuck out to me was the first point Shaleen mentioned. Education technology is becoming more of a requirement in classrooms rather than a luxury. Most classrooms use a projector, laptop and some other sort of technology in the daily classroom activities. Education technology can be quite an expensive piece of the classroom and not every school can afford to fund it with the funding given by the government. Many schools need the funding from corporate companies in order to pay for the technology that will benefit their students. It is important to look at the benefits that corporate funding can give to schools that cannot afford educational technology, sports equipment, field trips, or anything else that will benefit students. Corporate funding can help many schools afford the things that government funding will not cover.

The Debate

During the debate, the class discussed a lot about the influence that Coke and Pepsi had on our high school life. Most of my classmates, including myself, went to a high school that was funded in some way or another by Coke or Pepsi. I remember in high school having Pepsi machines in my high school that sold full sugar products. Having access to sugary drinks in high school is not beneficial to students. This early exposure to sugary drinks and junk food can lead to children’s weight gain as mentioned in Tom Philpott’s article. These sugary drink companies do supply a lot of sugary drinks to students, but they also supply funding for things like educational technology and sporting equipment.

Photo Credit: Like_the_Grand_Canyon Flickr via Compfight cc

The class focused heavily on the influence that companies can have on schools. The class discussed the influence that advertisement can have on schools and used the example of the Boston Pizza sign at the University. Advertisement in schools, especially in the gyms, can be very influential in school communities. Schools, even universities, can gain a lot from the funding from corporations.

My Thoughts

One of the things that did not get heavily discussed in the debate that I found very important in both Liz and Shaleen’s arguments is the influence of corporate companies on the academics of students. Katia slightly touched on the influence that companies can have on academics. She mentioned that some textbook companies are funded by oil and gas companies. This funding might skew the information that is given to students that ensures that oil and gas companies are not put in a bad light. The influence that major companies can have on the information that students receive or are being tested on can be a lot more than I initially thought. Even though a lot of schools still use Pearson standardized testing in the United States, many schools are discontinuing their contracts with Pearson as mentioned in the article by Valerie Strauss that Shaleen asked the class to read.

Overall, this debate caused me to think more about this topic than what I initially thought I would. I initially was very much in agreement that public schools have sold their souls to corporations. I did not think a lot about the influence that funding can have on schools. Corporate funding can negatively influence students lives by providing them with sugary drinks from a young age, but corporate funding also supplies the funding for educational resources. Like with many of the EDTC 400 debates, this debate topic requires balance. I do not think schools have sold their souls out to corporations, but I do think corporations have heavily influenced the lives of students in schools. Many schools rely on the funding that is given by corporations to get the resources that they need that the government funding cannot cover. I think the government needs to put more money into the funding of schools and resources such as educational technology and the educational field trips that students go on. If schools must rely on corporate funding and sponsorship in schools, especially if it is a junk food company, schools must educate students about a healthy lifestyle and the health risks of over-consumption of junk food and sugary drinks.

Post-Vote

The final thoughts of the class did not align with my thoughts now. In the end, the class voted almost all in favour that public schools have sold their souls to corporations.

The Post-Vote for EDTC 400 Debate 7

Conclusion

I think schools are not the only ones to blame in the situation of funding from corporations. I think big corporate companies, the government and schools all play a role in the issue of corporate funding in schools. Schools need more funding and when the government cannot provide the funding schools need for educational technology, educational field trips, or sporting equipment, schools must turn to big corporations to gain the funding that they need. The question is, is it public schools’ fault that there is not enough funding and they must turn to corporations for the funding they need?

What are your thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Hello everyone!

This week I was able to participate in the EDTC 400 debate. This week’s debate topic created a lot of conversation during the debate. This week’s topic was “Social media is ruining childhood”. The two debaters for this week were Kylie and Lauren. Lauren was on the agree side of the debate and Kylie was on the disagree side of the debate.

Pre-Debate VOte

In the similar fashion to the rest of the debates that the class has participated in, the class completed the pre-debate vote. This week’s pre-debate vote was split pretty much down the middle. In the pre-vote, I disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. I am part of the weird generation that experienced playing outside and minimal technology as a child. I had internet access and access to a television that had limited channels, but I did not really get exposed to social media until I was in late elementary school. I based my vote in the pre-debate on my own experience with social media as a child. I do not think that social media ruined my childhood, and thus I disagreed with this statement.

EDTC 400 Debate 6 Pre-Vote

Lauren’s Side

To begin the debate, the class viewed Lauren’s video that agreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. Lauren made very strong points in her introduction video. Her four main points are:

  1. Social media is negatively affecting children’s mental health
  2. Social media is addictive and making children less social
  3. Digital footprints and privacy concerns
  4. Social media can cause cyberbullying

Many of the points that Lauren made are some of the points that I have heard from multiple sources about the negative side to social media. I really agreed with Lauren’s statement that social media can be very addictive. In Lauren’s opening statement, she related the addictiveness of social media to a cigarette addiction. If people smoked a cigarette each time they checked social media, they would be smoking a lot of cigarettes. This comment really got me thinking about my own social media usage. I would not be happy with myself if I was smoking a cigarette every time that I went on social media. If I, as an adult, have a hard time with my own addiction to social media, how can I expect students and children to have more self-control than I do with social media?

Kylie’s SIde

After Lauren’s video, the class watched Kylie’s video that disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. Like Lauren, Kylie also made some strong points in her introduction video. Her four points are:

  1. Social Media open’s doors
  2. Children are able to take a stand on social media
  3. Social Media promotes mental health initiatives
  4. Social Media is unavoidable

Kylie connected a lot of her points to real life experiences. One of the connections that I made to Kylie’s video was when she discussed a presentation that Dr. Alec Couros gave to her EDTC 300 class. Even though I was not in Kylie’s EDTC 300 class, Dr. Alec Couros gave a presentation to my EDTC 300 class about the influence that social media has had on his children’s lives. In Alec Couros’ presentation, he discusses how his children have learnt how to play the drums and do make up from watching videos on social media. People of all ages, including children, can learn new hobbies and skills from social media. I have learnt how to crochet, which is one of my favourite hobbies, from watching videos on YouTube and posts from Pinterest. Social media has a lot of benefits, but there are also many drawbacks.

One of the crochet projects I completed over Christmas break

The Debate

After watching both the introduction videos, I was more on the fence than what I initially thought I would be entering the debate. This week’s debate topic peaked interest from most of the class into the discussion. Since social media is extremely ingrained into the lives of most of my classmates, everyone knows what social media is and how to use it. Most of the EDTC 400 class is also part of the weird generation that did not have social media when they were really young, but at some point during their childhood, towards their teens, they got social media all at once.

Photo Credit: nodstrum Flickr via Compfight cc

The Drawbacks of Social Media

To start off the debate, the class discussed the issue of cyberbullying that can occur on social media. Cyberbullying is quite prevalent among young people, with 33% of middle school and high school students stated that they have been cyberbullied, according to Mary Sauer’s article. Unlike physical and verbal bullying, students cannot escape cyberbullying when they go home. Cyberbullying happens online, and with most students having a cellphone on them 24/7, it is near impossible to escape cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is not as easy to spot because students are bullying one another behind screens. Cyberbullying is not something that should be taken lightly either. As Liz mentioned, cyberbullying and the inability to escape the taunting caused someone that she knew in high school to commit suicide. Cyberbullying is dangerous and it has real consequences that students, teachers, and parents must be aware of.

Along with discussing social media, the class talked about the issue of the addiction of cellphones. As adults, many of my classmates, including myself, have an addiction to our cellphones and social media. This addiction to cellphones and social media is not only an issue that adults struggle with. Students can also be addicted to their cellphones and social media. This addiction to social media can cause mental and physical health problems. In Melissa Riddle Chalos’ article, she discusses many of the health concerns that come with teens using social media. One of the points that is made in the article is that many students are not getting enough sleep at night due to using their phones, which emits a blue light and it is proven to make it more difficult to fall asleep. Social media addiction does not only cause students to have lack of sleep, but it can also cause students to develop feelings of FOMO (a fear of missing out) or feeling that they must be perfect online. Social media can contribute to feeling lonely, unhappy, pressured, and amplify the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Benefits of Social Media

After discussing some of the negative sides to social media, the class began discussing some of the positives that can come with social media. The class discussed some of the connection benefits that social media offers to students. Social media platforms that enable communication, such as Snapchat, give students the opportunity to stay in contact with friends or family that they are unable to see face to face. Students can also use social media or video chatting platforms, such as FaceTime or Skype, to stay connected with their peers and even complete homework as stated in Angela Barnes’ and Christine Laird’s article and Michael Sheehan’s article. Social media, despite some of the dangers of it, can be a great platform for students to use to engage in collaborative learning. During the debate, I mentioned that my brother uses social media to stay connected to his friends by playing video games online. My brother also will use his social media to work with a peer to complete a group assignment when it is too late to meet face to face to work on an assignment.

The final thing that I will briefly touch on about the debate is the comment that Katia made about people having an unrealistic idea of what childhood should look like. I think this was an important point to make because every generation will say “back in my day we had it so good because we did not have (insert piece of technology, whether it be television, cellphones, or social media) and my childhood was way better than yours” to the younger generation. This made me wonder a bit about my childhood. I did not have the influence of social media in my life until the end of elementary school and I do not think my childhood was any better or worse than the childhood kids are experiencing today. Many of the arguments against social media is that it makes kids less social and children do not go outside as much. Even with social media, I see children outside all the time in my neighbourhood. The idea that social media is making children less social is also something that I cannot get 100% on board with. As Shaleen mentioned, children are playing video games together online and also inviting friends over to play the video games together. I think that having social media allows children to be social in a much different way from when my parents were growing up. Instead of having to walk to a friend’s house to hang out or bike past their house to see if they are home, children can now send text messages to stay connected with their friends.

Post-Debate Vote

At the end of the debate, I was still leaning towards the disagree side of the debate. The whole class voted after the debate and it seems that I was on the majority side of the final vote. About 78% of the class disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood and 22% agreed with the statement. A picture of the debate results are below.

EDTC 400 Debate 6 post-debate vote

Final THoughts

Even though I do not think social media is ruining childhood, I think that it has the potential to if it is not used properly. There are a lot of dangers that can be associated with children using social media as listed in Melissa Riddle Chalos’ article. Things such as cyberbullying, mental health concerns, and lack of sleep are just a few reasons why social media can be dangerous for young people to use. Even though there are many potential drawbacks of using social media, there are a lot of benefits of allowing children to have access to it as Michael Sheehan explains in his article. Children are able to stay connected, find new hobbies, and be creative online are just a few benefits of social media.

Photo Credit: scootergenius02 Flickr via Compfight cc

The decision of allowing children to have social media is ultimately up to their parents to decide, but even if children have social media they should still be monitored while they are online. Ensuring that children know how to be safe online and what they should and should not post is extremely important when allowing children to use social media. Whatever a child posts on social media can follow them for the rest of their lives. Parents and educators must teach children how to be safe and respectful online. Students must learn that cyberbullying is just as, if not more, dangerous and hurtful than physical and verbal bullying. Students must be taught how to be respectful to everyone online and ensure that they do not participate in cyberbullying. Students must also know that they should reach out to a parent, a friend, or educator to let someone know when they are being cyberbullied. Children should not be left alone to try to navigate social media. Having teacher and parental support online and offline is very important in ensuring the benefits of social media outweigh the negatives.

Thanks for reading my blog post! What do you think is the biggest drawback and benefit of social media? Leave a comment below!

Ashley Osachoff

Is Technology Equitable – EDTC 400 Debate 5

Hello everyone!

Due to an unexpected family situation, I was unable to attend EDTC 400 last week. Thankfully, I did not miss out on the fifth debate since Katia records all the classes and posts them to the Slack community board. The fifth debate topic was “Technology is a force for equity in society” and the two debaters for this week were Kaytlyn and Ryan.

Pre-Debate

Prior to entering into the debate, the class did the pre-vote. The class had to choose if they agreed or disagreed with the statement that “Technology is a force for equity in society”. If I was in class and voting, I would have chosen to agree with this statement because I have witnessed technology being used as a force for equity with students with exceptionalities integrated into mainstream classrooms. I was not on the majority side of this pre-vote; about 60% of the class disagreed with the statement and about 40% of the class agreed with the statement. With this divide, it seemed that Ryan, who was on the agree side of the debate, would have a bit of a difficult time trying to sway the class to the agree side of the debate.

Ryan’s Side of the Debate

To begin the debate, the class listened to Ryan’s video, which is below. Ryan had three main points in his video that argued that technology is a force for equity. They are:

  1. Technology assists students and people with disabilities
  2. Technology enhances education in the World
  3. Technology gives young people a voice

Ryan made a very strong argument that compelled me to agree with his side of the debate. I really agreed with the first statement that Ryan made. He stated that technology can benefit those with disabilities and used Stephan Hawking (who used his eyes to use technology that would enable him to communicate through spoken words) as an example of how technology can create equity for students that have exceptionalities. I work with students with exceptionalities and I have seen first-hand the benefits that technology can have with students with disabilities. Students with exceptionalities can use technology, such as applications on tablets to communicate or complete assignments.

Kaytlyn’s Side of the Debate

After the class watched Ryan’s video, they watched Kaytlyn’s video, which is below. Kaytlyn had four main topics that she discussed in her video. They are:

  1. The Digital Divide
  2. Access to Technology
  3. Digital Equity
  4. Digital Inclusion

Like Ryan, Kaytlyn made a very compelling argument for her side of the debate. Her side of the debate heavily focused on the issue of students having limited access to technology at home. This limited access to technology can create a gap between student achievement and student participation in homework and assignments. Kaytlyn made a very true statement that not every student will have access to cellphones and other technology in classrooms. It is a teacher’s responsibility to know what technology students have access to both at home and at school. Teachers can then use this information to plan activities and assignments that do not create an even wider gap between students that have technology and those that do not.

The Debate

I think Kaytlyn made some very compelling points in her video and her discussion in the debate as much of the debate was focused on the issues of access and cost of technology. The class focused heavily on the issue that as technology is changing and improving rapidly, the costs of technology are still very high. The class went into depth on the issue that not every family will have the extra money to spend on technology. Students that do not have access to technology at home cannot always continue their learning at home if it requires them to use technology. As Liz mentioned in the debate, not every student has time or the ability to go to the library to complete an assignment on a public computer. The class discussed the issue that some students might have other commitments such as a job that prevents a student from accessing the library.

Throughout the discussion, the class also discussed access to technology as well as the cost of technology. As in many of our other debates, the issue of technology in rural communities came up. Rural communities often do not have great internet access and not every student living in rural communities will have reliable high speed internet. With limited access to reliable internet and technology, students living in rural areas are put at a disadvantage when it comes to using technology in the classroom.

As the debate went on, I was beginning to see the lines of equity and equality begin to be blurred. Tiana mentioned the image that I have in my head when I am thinking about the difference between equality and equity. The image is likely an image many people have already seen. There are three boys standing behind a fence and they are all trying to see the game. One boy is short, the middle boy is medium height and the final boy is tall. The tall boy can see over the fence, but the other two cannot. Equality is described as giving all three boys a box to stand on. With these boxes, the tallest boy and the middle boy can see over the fence, but the shortest boy cannot. In this case, everyone got the same thing, but one person got something they did not need and one person did not get enough. Equity is different from equality. Equity is giving each person the tools that they need to meet the expectations. In the case of the fence scenario, the shortest boy is given two boxes, the middle boy is given one and the tallest boy is given no boxes. In the equity situation, all three boys got something different, but all three boys are now able to see over the fence.

Photo Credit: House Buy Fast Flickr via Compfight cc

My thoughts on Debate TOpic

With this image in mind, I had a lot of thoughts after watching the debate. When I first began the debate, I really thought that technology can make things equitable in society, but then towards the end I began to think that technology is NOT a force for equity in society.

Prior to watching this debate, I did not really think about Kaytlyn’s side of the debate. I had only thought about the pros of technology in society and how much it benefits the students that I work with. I did not think about the issues of access to technology and the cost of technology being forces that make technology inequitable in society. I will admit this was fairly ignorant of me. I grew up with a lot of blessings. I had access to updated technology throughout my childhood and years going to school. I never had to go to the library to work on an assignment on a computer because I had access to a computer at home. I did not think deeply about the influence that access to technology had on students’ abilities to complete assignments or fully participate at the same level as their peers in an activity that uses technology.

Photo Credit: Tuesday Digital Flickr via Compfight cc

Access to technology is a huge barrier to an equitable society, because as mentioned in Annie Kelly’s article, technology is a huge influence on today’s society and students must have technology knowledge in order to enter the work field in today’s society. Not every student will have access to technology at home. Teachers are putting the students that do not have access to technology at home at a disadvantage when they are requiring students to complete assignments online at home. As mentioned in Justin Reich’s video, technology innovation will benefit affluent (high income) students more than students that come from low income families. Technology innovation creates a larger gap between students that come from affluent and low income families.

Now even though technology can be expensive and not every student will have access to technology at home, schools in the United States are not allowing lack of internet access at home become a barrier to student learning. As described in Chris Bedrick’s article, schools are starting to create towers that distribute internet to school issued computers in student’s homes.  Another point that this article made was that families are allowed to check out wifi routers with limited data plans from the library during the school year to ensure that the students that are going to school will have internet access at home.

Not every student has access to wifi at home

Photo Credit: m.gifford Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, there are many barriers that technology creates for creating an equitable society. As mentioned in the Dell article that Ryan asked us to read, technology and access to technology can open the doors for students around the world to new opportunities. Technology can be very equitable because regardless of a where a person lives, with the internet, a person will have access to the same information as everyone else. Technology enables many students to learn new skills, such as coding, that will open the door for job opportunities in the future. Giving to students that do not come from affluent neighbourhoods can be very equitable, because they not have access to the same resources and tools that students from affluent neighbourhoods already have.

Along with technology being a great resource that can open the doors for students, it also can be equitable for students with exceptionalities. I witness in my ECS 100 placement the powerful effect that technology can have on equity between students with and without exceptionalities. I viewed a student that did not have the ability to write out their own complex sentences actually create sentences using the Google extension Google Read and Write to create complete their work that matched the level of their peers. In this sense, I have seen technology as a force for equity.

Conclusion

Overall, this debate pulled me from side to side and I do not think that I have come to a conclusion that I agree one hundred percent with either side. I am stuck in the middle with this debate. On one hand, I have seen and think that technology can offer so many options for students that have exceptionalities or that do not come from affluent neighbourhoods. On the other hand, the issues of the cost and limited access to technology can be extremely inequitable. How can teachers expect students to benefit from technology and the resources it provides when students do not have access to technology at home? In conclusion, I think that creating more access to updated technology will make technology an equitable force in society. I think that technology is an equitable force in society, but the access to technology is not equitable. Improving access to technology will create a more equitable society that benefits from the tools that technology gives people.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff