It is not about the technology. It is about what we do with it.

Best-Books

This year I have been greatly inspired from a Teacher-Librarian at another school, who has been an expert at garnering support for reading amazing Canadian Literature!  More specifically – The Forest of Reading from the Ontario Library Association. 

What I love most about what she does, is that she has built a strong global sense of community around literacy and amazing Canadian literature ….. and for pleasure … not for standardized teaching and testing purposes.

This is the kind of situation that I have only dreamed about ..

a situation where every teacher and student in the school know all about the books, have heard and read at least some of the books, and can discuss the books anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.

She works directly with the classrooms as well, and as a result, individual conferencing is able to take place – which is proving to be much for valuable than studying levelled books and passages. The halls are adorned with chart paper and the names of the books of the Forest of Reading program in them – a place for students to write comments and questions about the books, and a goal setting bulletin board.

SAMR redefinition already happening, just without the technology.

This is community building at its finest, and it is all happening around the books from the Forest of Reading.

I am so inspired by what is going on. To me, this is what ‘it‘ is all about.

Now, I love using educational technology – but for realistic and beneficial purposes. I am very pragmatic, yet optimistic about edtech can, and cannot do – a firm believer that it is not about the technology, but what we do with it. It is paramount to me to promote community building surrounding the merging of traditional and digital literacies. I figure that if educators can build the metaphorical online structures, then the students will have that place to go.

There are not many ‘places’ on the internet for students to go that are purposefully created for them in this way.

I wanted to springboard on these amazing ideas already happening in this school, and provide a ‘technological framework’ to connect and grow a community of readers connecting online. I set up twitter account, blog, facebook, tagboard, and storify technologies. It has garnered a lot of interest, and I hope that the seeds have been planted to grow even more next year.

However, this was not without its barriers. This idea was met with various kinds of comments including .. ‘well other schools already have blogs up and running surrounding the Forest of Reading, you know‘ -or – ‘you know that other schools are doing really great and innovative things with technology‘…Look, I ‘get’ that it may not ‘seem’ innovative, nor all that technological at first glance. But the opportunities truly are endless.. from blogs, Book Trailers, QR codes, twitter and google hangouts — we take it beyond the technology itself – to meaningful longterm community learning and literacy.  There are amazing educators out there who are already redefining learning, and I just think that we can grow those learning communities when we use tech.  We are looking at digital literacy becoming a natural extension of traditional literacy – not an add-on, or a different entity all together. Just think of the possibilities if we are able to redefine ordinary classroom literacy lessons.

Currently, we have students connecting with authors, illustrators and publishers; we have students connecting in meaningful ways with teachers, and other students they have never met. We have students creating their own book trailers without even being asked! We have students reading and discussing the books over twitter – students who have never before read for pleasure. We have learners engaging meaningfully in literacy because the twitter format works so much better for them than anything else ever has. The bottom line is, because they love the ‘framework’ that has been built, and they love the sense of community and connection that can happen outside the four walls of the traditional classroom.

No, this is NOT about the technology, or technologies used. To me, this is about using technology to build the ‘frameworks’ that the students, teachers, community members can engage with. The structures to connect people across time and space to share knowledge and ideas about the books. To give students a framework that they can engage with outside of school hours if they want – a safe place to engage in a love of literature. Which, I believe is the essence of improving literacy scores – if that is what our ultimate goal is.

Far better than standardization in my humble opinion.

I do not have all the answers, just the passion and drive to use technology in ways that makes it about the love of learning, and community building. Next we will be having students using Google Hangouts with students in another school to teach them how to engage with book trailers and other cool edtech — all about their favourite Forest of Reading books – and just in time for the big vote!

I do hope that you will join us in our ‘LiteracyCommons’: sites.google.com/site/digitalpublishing ; twitter @SCDSBForest and @forestofreading and @SCDSBbookclubs (after the official Forest of Reading vote until next fall:)

I really hope you will join us in creating an online community of readers! We want to connect with you over the years to come:)

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Edtech: Harnessing Student Voice and Promoting Equity

 

Image from W Fryer

Image from W Fryer

 

Educational Technology can be used to promote equity in our learning spaces, harness student voice, and provide new avenues for students to cultivate their passions in life.

Educators can choose to use this edtech meaningfully in our learning spaces. We can use it for purposes including connecting, creating, knowledge building, publishing, giving students a voice and helping students to cultivate their passions!  A whole world of possibilities is open to us.

That being said, ed-tech cannot be used in and of itself. In the spirit of thinking critically about digital media in education, I have included 5 important points that we can consider when applying pedagogy to the use of digital media and edtech:

1. Digital media and edtech in and of themselves do not consider the realities of race relations. That is why we cannot use them in and of themselves.

2. Digital media, edtech and computer sciences, cognitive science, brain science etc., are just several theories out of many that can be applied to teaching and how students learn. Mindfulness is essential to avoid our own confirmation bias dictating how students learn best. For the sake of our students, we need a growth mindset to apply a range of frameworks or paradigms toward how we believe students will learn. This will cultivate passion for learning!

3. We can harness digital media to give real voice to different cultural backgrounds and cultural learning, including First Nations, Metis, & Inuit Students. But it takes awareness of what paradigms we are operating from when we integrate edtech into our learning environments.

4. Educational Technology provides opportunities to give voices to those who have previously been unable to share their voices! We need to make sure that we are providing equitable opportunities for all students to cultivate their own voices, and find their own passions!

5. We need to use educational technology. It is inequitable for our students when some are allowed and encouraged to develop key skills and passions, and others are not.

The use of digital media in the classroom has the ability to facilitate the knowledge building process, help students and communities have their voices shared, and cultivate passion for learning.  It is important to pause for consideration of how it provides a framework for how people think and how our memories evolve, and how we learn in ways that follow our own paths and passions. We are no longer in the industrial era of thinking where learning needs to occur on a linear path.

Effective knowledge of our own pedagogy includes a recognition of paradigms surrounding edtech, and how those paradigms are affecting how we teach and learn. Further, development of our own biases and beliefs about the world based on the edtech is essential. There is the very real possibility that we will limit our learners in in very serious ways. The ability to attend to student voice is important. This can be accomplished via meaningful strategies and opportunity to allow for those voices to shape how they learn, how they think, and what they believe about how the world works.

For example, many First Nations, Metis & Inuit cultures contain views that the world needs to have balance between all domains, including physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional. When we are out of balance, this is when problems crop up. For instance, if we are focussed too much on the intellectual domain, we are forgetting that there truly are other ways of knowing and being in the world. Let’s give voice to this! We can harness this with edtech!

Software and hardware frameworks have drastically shaped how we think about how we learn. There are real trends towards using computers, the brain, and cognitive science as the roadmaps for how we learn. But there is danger in promoting these paradigms if they are not balanced with other ways of knowing in our world. A growth mindset and flexibility will help us to see that we need to implement new pedagogies to allow students to ‘know’ their world in the ways that are meaningful to them.

We are entrenched in a new digital culture that frames the internet as a medium of unparalleled freedom. However, it is essential that we focus attention on the serious issues including how digital media can amplify social inequity, and the exploitative and exclusionary possibilities that lie with it.

Educators have a tremendous amount of power in this day in age, and we can choose to leverage that power to help promote equity, diversity, and passion for learning. 

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information-Processing in the Digital Age: Beginning with Content Curation

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The process of finding information and creating new knowledge involves key skills that are important for all learners. In the 21st century, the amount of information that our students must process has grown exponentially, and will continue to grow. This is one area where we need to build capacity with our educators.

In the 21st century there are still many educators, and and schools overall, that are in need of information-processing tech skills. This does not mean that they have lesser pedagogies or practices. However, There are real consequences when teachers who are not comfortable with tech, simply abandon good pedagogy and good tried and true practices, to integrate technology. Further, there are educators who do not appreciate the way that PD is mandated, and the strategies with which they have traditionally been presented.

But. We have a growing issue here. At the forefront of our imaginations, we need to figure out how we are going to effectively teach students to navigate information in new ways, and create new knowledges in a hyperlinked world.

It’s not just about teaching the curriculum all by itself anymore, because that curriculum can now be linked out both locally, and globally.

Curriculum expectations do not exist within specific subject areas, yet are hyperlinked with information all over the world, and throughout all subject areas. More important than anything, I believe, is the ability for all learners to navigate information critically in our hyperlinked world.

I propose that schools need to come up with clear plans to help with this reality of the 21st century. A plan that includes input from all stakeholders, and a plan that reinforces the use of our Librarians, that promote the school-wide goals of teaching students all steps of the research process.

One way to begin, for schools who have traditionally avoided technology integration, could include the school wide goal of curating information for a particular subject or topic in every grade.

Beginning solely with content curation strategies, educators new to information processing with technology, can begin the journey by having learners curating valuable information for their own purposes with platforms such as a classroom Pinterest boards, or Scoop.it. There are many other platforms as well.

The opportunities that can evolve and branch out from this process can include:
new research assignments,
reflection and critical thinking opportunities,
sharing and collaboration with others,
a sense of pride for educators, and learners, and of course,
opening up opportunities to use new technologies.

It is important to try new strategies to involve everyone in meaningful ways.

What strategies have worked for you?

D.McCallum

Copyright
© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Top 10 Criteria for Choosing Edtech

 

Jo Fothergill

Jo Fothergill

There are important considerations that need to be at the forefront of our decision making when it comes to choosing edtech. When we metaphorically ‘grab’ onto the technology and use it without thought as to how it affects our pedagogy, we may be putting our learners at a a disadvantage. Therefore, there are several things we need to consider including creating a balance of using technologies against ‘tried and true’ evidence based, research-based, community-based, and culturally appropriate strategies for learning. Ed-tech in and of itself does not provide easy answers.

The following is a list of my top 10 criteria for integrating edtech:

1.Classroom Ecology: Critically think about your classroom community, the needs, the best ways to promote student voice. Don’t just strive to foster the ecology, also have flexibility and openness to understanding the natural ecology and how you can harness that for success. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

2. Participation vs Consumption. Consider how the students and learners are going to participate with the digital tool and the technology within each unique learning environment. Are we promoting Participation with the tool…or merely consumption? What is the difference, and what are the implications? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

3. Pedagogy. What are your goals? Will you suffer if you ‘step away’ from your pedagogy to ‘try out’ new edtech? If so, it is time to consider what PD you might be interested in. How can teachers be supported in ways that promote learning about the ‘art and science’ of integrating the digital tools into professional pack practice. This is <a href=”http://bigideasinedu.edublogs.org/2013/08/22/technology-should-not-offset-good-pedagogy/”>pedagogy</a&gt;. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time?

4. Leadership. Make messages crystal-clear with regards to the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ of implementing new platforms. It is important to avoid sending mixed messages to all stakeholders involved in education. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

5. Balancing enthusiasm with research and knowledge. Having a real understanding about what text tools can actually do and what they cannot actually do is important. Avoid holding any delusions were glorified ideas about how they’re helping our students. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

6. Minimize distraction. One that cannot be ignored is that many technology tools are linked with other tools social media tools another digital learning tools. How can we minimize distraction for students, when we cannot monitor them all the time, to help them get the most of their learning experiences? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

7. Adaptive Technology.. Adapting technology tools to warrant appropriate learning needs and appropriate learning goals. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

8. Promoting Collaboration. In what ways can we use the technology to learn together, to collaborate, to share, and to build new knowledges. How can we tailor each situation to our own specific needs? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

9. Ethics. How do we carefully consider the ethics involved? Part of being ethical, is working within our boundaries of competence to be able to provide the best learning outcomes for our students. Further, It is important to Carefully outline the needs of all stakeholders, the ethical considerations that need to be understood. Psychologists have to take graduate-level courses in ethics and decision-making, how are educators trained to make important ethical decisions in education, let alone decisions that involve the ever evolving dimensions of Ed-tech? Further, What are educators responsibilities to learners? Should we be developing content and software and hardware unique to our local school boards and businesses? For instance based on present and future privacy and data mining concerns etc., should we consider local platforms or local clouds that will promise to always keep student information safe? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

10. Equity and Accessibility. How are we ensuring that technology is being used to promote equity and accessibility to information and knowledge? Equity is also about ensuring that our most disenfranchised students are not missing out on key opportunities to learn basic methods from tried and true pedagogies, in exchange for more time spent navigating edtech. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

Ed-tech provides many wonderful opportunities for educators and learners. But we do need to be mindful of these important considerations for the greater good of all students. I really think that educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? What will this look like for an entire school? Community? City? Province? Country? Will too much enthusiasm spent with edtech result in more students not having the basic skills that we already know are important? At what cost are we promoting edtech? Let’s face it, the research is thin. I certainly promote edtech and use it, but I also believe in not losing what we have already gained!

What criteria do you use to find your edtech tools?

D.McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Edtech, Advertising, and Media Literacy

policyThe rapid increase of technology in the 21st century has impacted every sector, and education is no exception. While the benefits are numerous, the drawbacks have included the advertising and commercialism tactics that have permeated the many technologies, especially free technologies that educators are using. If educators are not careful, we could be inadvertently endorsing products and services to students, parents, and other educators as well.

 

The endorsement of products and technologies can be quite unconscious, especially because every day new apps, programs, and hardware are being created to target educators and education initiatives. Some technologies are tested and backed by educational ‘experts’, and research. Businesses are able to promote their products through many of the free technologies that educators can access. Many businesses even provide teaching resources and other incentives in exchange for advertising. Regardless of advertising techniques in the 21st century, there exists a heightened necessity for all educators to be diligent when making decisions about technologies for learning. These decisions are essential to protect all students, parents, community members and all stakeholders in public education.

When using technologies for education, there are ethics to consider, particularly when considering how ads may be used to ‘sell’ or endorses products. In our quest as educators to infuse new technologies for collaboration and sharing it is important to pay attention to the advertisements that go along with them.

Further, always asking yourself the questions of what it is you are promoting, why, and what messages are being conveyed, consciously or unconsciously. For instance, some free online curation tools, blog posts with valuable information etc., also come with advertisements.

New and advanced technologies that permeate the education sector provide opportunities for advertising to crop up, therefore, where does one draw the line? The education and corporate sector may find themselves working together in many different situations and can be quite unconscious to educators.

Products used in education may inadvertently sell or endorse products and services that are not approved of, nor warranted in our quest for equity and accessibility to education for all. This can be both counter productive and counter intuitive to the goals of public education.

Some of the negative effects of inadvertent advertising come from an unquestioned acceptance of messages at face value, particularly from individuals who are defenceless and vulnerable to the messages. Public education systems are entrusted to be ethical pillars of society, promoting equity and access to quality education.

Here are some questions we as educators can ask ourselves:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What is the purpose/learning goals of the technology of choice? For instance, curation? Sharing? Collaboration? Building new knowledge? Developing an understanding of what is important to the learners in your classroom, school, community, or Board? Sharing blogs and information with parents, educators, students?
  • Am I inadvertently promoting any companies or technologies that create an uneven playing field for students?
  • Aside from selling or endorsing products and services, am I aware of possible data collection tactics employed by advertisers?
  • What reputation am I looking to convey, keeping in mind that I represent my school and school board as trusted establishments in a Public school board that represents everyone equally.

One thing is necessary however, and that is that public education not be a conduit for commercialization.  It is unethical to use students and parents and teachers as captive audiences for subliminal advertising. We as educators need to model critical thinking, digital citizenship, and medial literacy practices as opposed to inadvertently ‘selling’ products and technologies that create unequal playing fields in education.

It can be difficult to avoid linking products to education goals, including iPad apps. For purposes such as sponsoring literacy initiatives, and using principles of neuroscience to apply to new products created for the education sector. This can create pressures for families, inadvertently promote dominant culture status over another, and increase the learning gap for students from different cultural backgrounds including First Nations, Metis & Inuit and socioeconomic status.

Educators need to teach about commercialization and be consciously aware of it ourselves. The importance of teaching digital citizenship and media literacy for students, also serves as important reminders regarding our own pedagogy and practice to help educate students, parents, and communities.

In public education we also need to protect against indoctrination within our schools. Critical thinking and careful conscious attention are required to understand propaganda, advertising, mass-mediated messages, and to encourage students to make effective decisions based on their appropriate needs, not based on our own motivations or the newest trends in technology just for the sake of being trendy. In our quest for new technologies and ways to connect learners we can sometimes lose sight of this.

In the end, we want our students to be intelligent and informed consumers of knowledge.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It is not about Technology. It is about Pedagogy.

 

In this era of rapid evolution of informational technology, new pedagogies are necessary to meet the demands of our connected world. This includes providing equal access and opportunity for students to partake, share and build knowledge in virtual spaces.

Educators are creatorsfacilitators, curators and collaborators of knowledge in the 21st century, and technology plays a big role in these functions. However, education is not about the technology, it is about the pedagogy. Unless we re-imagine our current school and education structures, technology-infusion will not be meaningful for our learners. If we want tech integration, we must change the way we do things. Tech does not integrate well into our factory model of schools.

21st century pedagogy should evolve as we re-imagine our schemata of how schooling should be structured. This includes how we participate in sharing, exploring, and collaborating of new knowledge networks, and of course, to meet new trends in globalization fuelled by technology.

The integration new technology into pedagogy is a skill that requires knowledge, and understanding. There is a lack  of readily available research and discussion throughout our ‘Professional Learning Networks’ that touches on technology integration and the implications on Pedagogy.

This is also not an area where we can berate other educators about. Not all educators are tech-savvy. However, as educational leaders, our educators need support and facilitation to explore how technology can be incorporated into pedagogy.

Technology integration alone does not equal higher test scores and more effective learners. In fact, there are large percentages of students who are easily distracted by technology, and simply do not have the working memory to be able to process the multiple tasks co-existing at once, ie., pictures and text at the same time. This point presents very real implications to our students when we integrate the newest technologies. As educators, we do need research, training, and better practices to best educate our learners.

It is our pedagogy that needs to evolve to support technology and new ways of globally sharing, knowing and building knowledge. 

In fact, technology in itself is not new. Technology has always existed. Modern technology has been around as long as people have existed, and doesn’t just refer to the 21st century.

Also, absolutely no one can deny that the newest inventions tend to engender or require the development of certain skills or attitudes. But is there anything really new? What is new is our ability to access knowledge, collaborate, and share on a global scale. We no longer need the ‘teacher’ as the ‘sage on the stage’. We have opportunities to break out of the previously built structures that bind us to when, why, what, and how we should all learn. We have opportunities to re-imagine what learning can look like, feel like, and how it can impact ourselves and others.

What opportunities lie ahead if we can embrace this kind of change! 

But it is not about the ‘technology’. It will always take good educators to help learners find their own paths to learning that is important to them:

Good teachers know that abandoning good teaching practice, & allowing yourself to be distracted by technology results in poor teaching.

Good teachers also know that they do not have all the answers, and that we can use new technologies to ignite passion for learning that is personally meaningful.

It has been suggested by educators with PhD’s discussing the notions that some of our lower levels of literacy across the Western world come from educators having abandoned certain practices that promote deep learning, to experiment with new technologies. Let’s not forget that tech-integration takes a lot of time, resources, and practice.

Still, others have argued that the spell check and word processors of our modern day technology has resulted in generations of students with increased difficulties in spelling, reading, and writing, and critical thinking. If there is actually truth to any of these arguments, we as educators have much to contemplate when it comes to integrating technology.

So how do we maintain high standards of excellence, while shifting pedagogy to incorporate technology meaningfully?

Perhaps before we jump into integrating the newest technologies, and the newest ‘flavour of the month’ perhaps, we also remind ourselves of the ‘truths’ that make us good educators, and the research based art and science behind our teaching practice, and make sure that whatever tools we use in the classrooms, we do NOT abandon good pedagogy to simply use a new technology in our classrooms.

This takes training, facilitation, and new professional development strategies for teachers to be able to shift previous schemas of how learning should unravel.

Further, human challenges will always remain human challenges, will always remain human challenges.  Regardless of the date and time in history humans will always have the same basic needs including needs for love, acceptance and to learn new information. New technologies do not automatically offset universals in the areas of human behaviour. We do need research and training to understand the implications of  technology usage in the classroom on the nature of human beings and learning.

New technologies should not offset good pedagogy. Rather, pedagogy should evolve to incorporate meaningful ways of learning, collaborating and sharing in the 21st century.

 

Deborah McCalllum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Technology in Education : BYOD & Equitable Access

 

child-and-phoneBYOD is an initiative that more and more individual schools and boards are considering to run within schools. While it promises many benefits for students, teachers and school boards, it is an initiative that is not without issues and ethical considerations that should be thoughtfully considered by teachers and boards alike. Equity and access to personal mobile devices are among the top issues that educators, administrators, parents, and boards are all attempting to parse out. Many of us are learning as we go.

I remember a new lesson I was teaching that I started with by using a simple diagnostic assessment tool on my laptop, displayed to the SmartBoard. Motivated by the technology itself, some students were motivated to go home and apply their learning to the technology in the same formats we used in class.  Some students felt very motivated to come to school with their own devices with the hopes that they could use them in class.

Then came the evidence of a digital divide. With only one set of laptops for the school, I frequently did not have devices on hand for my students. Some students had devices that not have Wifi, and many still did not have their own device. It became apparent that only students who had their own devices had regular opportunities to integrate Technology into their learning processes. We eventually came to an impasse. To ensure equity of access within the classroom, I felt I had to start saying no to students about using their own technologies. This caused me to stop and reflect upon the future implications and consequences of this inequity. What would the future look like for students who would spend their entire school year, or career, without their own device, versus those who could use them each and every day?

This prompted me to conduct my own research of sorts. For Parents in my School Community, I created a Survey through Google Docs and spoke with other parents one-on-one to learn about what their thoughts were surrounding BYOD. One of the key concerns appeared to be the issue of Equity. Parents voiced concerns including keeping kids safe when using Social Media, and respecting the privacy of students while using technology at school, and the issue of Equity.

As I continued my research, the Ontario Ministry of Education is without an official BYOD policy within its Public Education Framework. However, the Shifting Landscape Final Report (2012) conducted by the Ministry of Education found that there is increasing interest in classroom focussed, cloud-based, digital citizenship and literacy, using personal devices, and equitable access versus scheduled access of devices within schools.

The Peel District School Board is currently striving to incorporate technology into teaching and learning environments with Board-wide policies and procedures to promote BYOD in each school. To address issues of equity, they have created an opportunity to offer an affordable option for more families that include tablets that can be purchased for $55.00.

In my readings I also found that in Finland all students receive a free education with free school meals, resources, materials, transportation and support services. I could not find evidence of BYOD programs in Finland, however.

BYOD initiatives promise cost-effectiveness and opportunities to integrate technology with the curriculum. However, we still need to think critically about the initiative and strive to embed it within a context that supports equity and accessibility for students.  Otherwise, we risk promoting and normalizing privilege in schools.

It may seem insignificant that more than half of the students in that Grade 3 Science class did not have their own devices. It may have been fine for 1 class, a whole unit, or even a whole term. However, if the same students without devices continue to learn in school without equitable access to technology, this has the potential to lead to a vast digital divide between the haves and have-nots.

BYOD promotes educational leverage for students to be able to navigate an ever increasing wireless world. Students also have access to personalized learning opportunities in the areas of digital citizenship and digital literacy. However, as Educators in a Public School system, it is necessary to ensure we are levelling the playing field with equity and access when it comes to the diverse learning needs of students. The financial ethics involved within Public Education are complex and asking the question of whether each student should have access to the same learning apps and materials prompts the question as to what the goals are for Public Education.

Despite the benefits of BYOD programs, it still promotes Academic disparity and inequality between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. Unfair advantages will lead to an increase in the digital divide and to uneven competencies in digital citizenship and literacy. This will undoubtedly affect society in the future. Disparity and the Widening Digital Divide Among the Haves and Have-Nots.

As technology continues to evolve and permeate nearly every aspect of life, schools are looking to cost efficient ways to meet the increasing technology demands of the digital world. Educators are also increasingly aware of the importance of helping students learn about Digital literacies. BYOD is certainly a cost-effective way to increase technology and technology usage within schools.

In the digital world of today, technology has never been so widespread and accessible. It is easy to get on board with the promises that a BYOD initiative will automatically be a win-win situation for all stakeholders. It is an initiative that promises Money saving initiatives for school boards, and opportunities for families that already have the money. These factors inadvertently place pressure on those families who do not have the funds for devices, apps, upgrades, repairs, Wifi, and  and possible replacements.

Research that point toward results that students living in poverty achieve lower scores on standardized tests, increased drop-out rates, etc.  Often an ‘invisible’ problem wrought with stereotypes of what poverty looks like. Run the risk of not realising that many middle class families are also at risk of economic insecurity. This certainly translates into the classrooms and learning environments.

Schools play large roles in coping effectively with poverty. Education can play an important role in improving conditions for students in poverty. Also, programs including implementing programs such as breakfast programs, food baskets are initiatives that schools run to help make sure students have enough to eat. There are many stereotypes that surround what Poverty should look like. Yet many families experience economic disadvantage and thus experience great stress and pressure with the rising costs of schooling and Education. BYOD initiatives place pressure on Parents to foot the bill for technological devices.

BYOD affects families, placing stress on tight incomes, often to provide each sibling with devices that have wireless internet capabilities and apps. Further, what if the apps, browsers and platforms used at home are not the ones supported in schools? Further costs can include repairs, regular updates, virus protection, crashing systems, and outdated technologies, and theft.

BYOD is not merely students bringing their devices to school. BYOD is a game-changer in education that requires us to re-think what schools need to look like to accommodate Educational technology and learning opportunities in the 21st Century. BYOD warrants changes in the ecology and context of the classroom to avoid an increasing digital divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Critical evaluation of BYOD initiatives can help us to understand how the practice can be exclusionary based on an uneven distribution of devices. Distribution of technology across the province is uneven, with technologies often differing across classrooms, schools, grades, boards, makes, models, operating systems, and usage rates. Further economic and academic disparity exists between different ethnicities, socio-economic status groupings, and gender.

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

New Pedagogies needed for Edtech Integration

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Technology has always existed, and there is nothing really new to teach our students.

If we can consider this argument for a moment, and consider the implications of what it means for Education.

If technology has always existed and evolved, then learning has also had to evolve across time and space. The newest and rapidly evolving technologies in 2014 are no exception! Now more than ever, our education systems need to change across time and space to use technology effectively to teach our students.

Great educators know that integrating new edtech into pedagogy is a skill that requires knowledge, practice and understanding. Sound familiar? This is based on the same principles we use to teach the curriculum.  However, in our 21st century, there simply is not a lot of readily available research and discussion with PLN’s that are explicit when it comes to technology integration and the implications on Pedagogy. The old pedagogies do not fit anymore, however. We do need more opportunities to share and engage in meaningful Professional Development to create these opportunities.

Technology integration alone does not equal higher test scores and more effective learners. In fact, as just one example, there are many students who are easily distracted by technology, and simply do not have the working memory to be able to process the pictures and text at the same time. There are very real implications to our students when we integrate the newest Technologies. As Educators, we do need to know what we are doing.

Technology is not new!

Technology in itself is not new. Technology has always existed. Modern technology has been around as long as people have existed, and doesn’t just refer to the 21st century. Absolutely no one can deny that the newest inventions tend to engender or require the development of certain skills or attitudes. Today this requires a great deal of change. But is there anything really new? Human nature and the learning strategies do not melt away and erode simply because some of us have computers, tablets, internet, and Wifi.

Good teachers know that abandoning good teaching practice, & allowing yourself to be distracted by technology results in poor teaching.

Educational research has pointed toward some of our lower levels of literacy across the Western world stemming from educators having temporarily abandoned certain practices that will continue to stand the test of time, for new technologies. Others have argued that the spell check and word processors of our modern day technology, has resulted in generations of students with increased difficulties in spelling, reading, and writing, and critical thinking. If there is actually truth to any of these arguments, we as Educators have much to contemplate when it comes to integrating Technology.

In order to successfully integrate technology, we need new pedagogies. Our 20th century pedagogies do not lend themselves to technology integration in our learning environments!

Perhaps before we jump into integrating the newest technologies, and the newest ‘flavour of the month’ perhaps, we also remind ourselves of the ‘truths’ that make us good Educators, and the research based art and science behind our teaching practice, and make sure that whatever tools we use in the classrooms, we do NOT abandon good pedagogy to simply use a new technology in our classrooms.

Further, human challenges will always remain human challenges, will always remain human challenges.  Regardless of the date and time in history. New technologies do not automatically offset universals in the areas of human behaviour. They also should not offset opportunities to revamp pedagogy for the better.

How do you integrate Educational Technologies into your pedagogy?

 

Deborah McCalllum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content