How to educate our current and future students?

Do schools really need to change? If so, in what ways? 

As a parent and educator, I feel that with the generational, cultural and societal changes, we have to recognize the fact that making changes to our education system is crucial. We not only need to prepare our students to safely navigate in our digital world, but also finding ways to engage them while teaching these skills. Prof. Mary Beth Hertz draws our attention to the importance of taking the time to educate our students about technology and appropriate ways to use social media instead of assuming that our ‘digital native’ youth is on the right path of becoming responsible digital citizens without guidance and mentoring. Just as no one is born being a native speaker of any language, our children need to be taught how to be responsible citizens of our digital world. Bringing technology into our classrooms will also make learning fun and more engaging for our students. 

Is it possible to change our educational system, or is it more likely that the system will be replaced by other forms of education?

I am seeing that our education system is changing. The question is if it is changing at the right pace and if we are heading in the right direction? We definitely need to do more work shifting from the 1990’s teaching style where the role of the educator was to be the ‘monopoly of knowledge’, towards the role of a facilitator guiding students in their journey of creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as developing their ability to synthesize information through project-based learning. The transformation of the education system will certainly look different at the elementary-, middle- and high-school levels as well as at the university. Growing up in Romania, we used to have specialized teachers for every subject matter starting grade 5. I often wonder if a teacher specialized in technology, teaching digital literacy and media literacy would make this shift faster, since it might take a long time for teachers to familiarize themselves and find the right fit to teach through the lens of our digital world. I think that in order to avoid generations missing out on learning how to be digital literate and media literate (Prof. Mary Beth Hertz), offering ‘technology classes’ for all grade levels could be quite beneficial. 

And when I think of the education system being replaced by other forms of education, I agree with Christina Petterson, that no matter how much the education system changes, human interaction is crucial for our students’ emotional development. Me working with EAL (English as an Additional Language) students who face so many challenges when moving to a new country, I cannot imagine them being able to cope with life with having no human interaction. Besides helping them learn English and all the subject matters, our job is also to help them through the nightmare of culture shock, as well as modelling social norms and interactions in Canadian society. In today’s multicultural society our job is getting more and more complex.

What sort of education or education system will be needed to adequately prepare students for the world ahead?

Both Prof. Henry Jenkins and ISTE underline the importance of open education where teachers scan the globe for best practices and collaborate with each other. Teachers of the ‘Future Schools’ in Singapore have the opportunity to watch model lessons in order to learn new ideas and provide suggestions to each other. Through skype sessions educators share best practices and critique lessons with colleagues in their school and with others from around the world. It is important for us to realize the power of sharing, communication and collaboration in order for learning to grow. I feel that providing more time for teachers to share, collaborate and plan together would be beneficial to make our education system more effective. 

What sort of world are we preparing students for?

The world is shaped by us, our values, actions and beliefs. Since technology is a key component in our everyday lives, we need to prepare our students to think and act as responsible citizens in our digital world. By raising adaptable, responsible, empathetic critical thinkers we can guide students towards digital leadership, as described by George Couros, where the Internet and Social Media are being used to improve the lives, well-being and circumstances of others.

Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Mary Beth Hertz, Philadelphia high school teacher as well as author of the book called Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet explaining what digital literacy and media literacy are while providing teachers with practical classroom applications.

The first question that came to my mind during the Skype discussion was: Are we educators prepared for teaching our students digital literacy and media literacy? I can relate to Leigh Tremblay, when it comes to “blindly” engaging with apps without knowing what is behind them. Looking at myself, there’s still a lot that needs to be done in the area of knowing how technology works and knowing how to use and analyze resources. I think the first step is that we educators recognize the importance of digital and media literacy and take the time to better ourselves. Since how could we guide our students, if we don’t understand technology and don’t know what is happening around us? Or we just lock the world of Internet and Social Media out of our classrooms limiting our students’ learning?

I agree with Adam Scott Williams, who believes that “Schools are the perfect place for students to learn about social media tools and how to use them responsibly and efficiently.” Prof. Henry Jenkins draws our attention to the dangers of the mentality of “let them be, they’ll learn on their own” since our student population is made up of three distinct groups of young people: digital orphans, digital exiles and digital heirs. Being aware of these differences can help us, educators when it comes to meeting our students’ needs. According to Mary Beth Hertz, it is crucial for us, teachers to educate ourselves and our students. Making assumptions that our students have digital literacy, just because they have access to technology or are able to use certain apps can be quite dangerous. It is like a ‘digital playground’ where students are being thrown into without guidance. It is our job to address and fill in the gaps.

Another important takeaway was the importance of validating our students’ experiences and being open to learn with them and from them. Listening to our students and talking about their experiences in a non-judgemental way will help us see the value Social Media offers to youth as well as helping them deal with its negative effects, such as the FOMO phenomena. I wonder if teaching youth to be real as Alexandra Samuel: Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for your Online Life explains, would make a change and encourage youth to behave like IRL (in real life) since the online life is RLT (real life too)?

Major Project

At the very beginning of my EC&I 832 class, I feel nervous and fortunate at the same time. I am excited to have the opportunity to learn about social- and educational apps that I am surrounded with but not know a whole lot about. I have never used Snapchat, Instagram, nor TikTok, so I decided to go on my personal journey and learn what these apps are and how to use them safely and effectively. Having both my students and my children (eight and eleven) use them, as a teacher and parent, I feel it is my responsibility to learn about these viral tools.

So I opted for the Personal journey into media:

The goal of my major project is to have a better understanding of the digital world and of the apps and programs that my children and students are using regularly. As part of my in-depth investigation, I will be focusing on reviewing two social apps Instagram and TikTok, and two educational apps, such as Aurasma and Touchcast.

I am planning to create a detailed review of the selected apps through a media lens including a description, analysis of the app platform, Terms of Service and privacy implications, as well as educational value and usage. I would like to experiment with the above highlighted four apps by actively engaging and using the apps for an extended period of time.

I already learnt it from my Learning Project of my EC&I 831 class that creating a plan on a fairly new topic can be quite challenging. When I started learning how to play the piano, I set the most amazing goals, such as playing an Ellie Goulding song by the end of my course. It was hard to face reality and change my final goal several times. But the Learning Project taught me about the importance of connecting with professionals and learning from each other. I had the opportunity to chat with one of my colleagues, Kristina Boutilier, regarding my Major Project in Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy, and she shared a wonderful site with me that I think will be very useful when it comes to examining apps through media lens. is a collection of best apps that offers detailed description and evaluation of the various apps. I am also planning to examine other resources in the Educational App Store. The latter offers a wide collection of apps as well as overviews that will be helpful in finding valuable apps and learning what to look for in a good app. I also came across an open educational resource (OER), the Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) offering valuable information regarding the quality and relevance of apps by providing a checklist for an app evaluation. I will also continue reading articles and listen to TED talks on this topic. I came across Jeff Kirschner’s Litterati app, an app that makes it fun to pick up litter is definitely something I would like to know more about.

I hope, when I start examining apps, I will not get lost in the abundance of resources. Being fairly new in the world of technology, I am ALWAYS happy to hear your suggestions and advice.

Thank you!


Welcome to my introductory blog post! My name is Melinda Demeter and I have been living in Canada for 18 years. I am Hungarian who grew up in Romania, Transylvania, half an hour drive from the famous Bran Castle known as Dracula Castle.

Due to living as part of a minority group, Romania never really felt like home. At a very young age, I knew I was going to leave the country. I started learning English when I was in grade five, later I added German to have a higher chance when the time was going to come to settle in a new country. After I had finished university in the capital city of Romania, my dream came true and I was able to move to Canada. Soon, I had to face the harsh reality by being told that my Education Degree was equal to a Bachelor of Arts Degree and I had to go back as a full-time student for three and a half years to get my teaching degree. I often wonder what my life would look like had I stayed in my home town. I feel this was God’s plan for me. I have two beautiful children Dani and Mariska who give meaning to my life.

I love to travel, I am passionate about different cultures and of course teaching. Being an English as an Additional Language teacher is the perfect fit for me, since I am an immigrant who has experienced culture shock and all the ups and downs of settling in a new country. I truly feel that I can connect to my students and really understand what they are going through.

I see myself as a lifelong learner always finding an exciting goal to work towards. After I finished my Master’s Certificate Program in TESOL, I applied for the Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Technology, pushing myself to face my fear of technology.

I am so thankful to my Professor, Dr. Alec Couros for his continuous guidance and support as well as for my classmates’ help and encouragement. During the past two courses, EC&I 834 and EC&I 831, I have not only learnt a tremendous amount, but also built great relationships. I always loved technology since it made it possible for me to stay connected to my friends and family. Without Internet and Skype I wouldn’t have been able to survive the past 18 years. Now, that I am learning about the treasures the world of technology is offering, I am loving it more than ever. Of course it has positive and negative sides, like everything else in life. Being able to see and hear my parents living 8,288 km away from me is something words cannot describe.

Since I have been taking Ed.Tech classes, according to one of my students I became a “YouTuber”. I also had the opportunity to develop online and blended learning resources, as well as learn how to play the piano, the most amazing journey, that I recorded in the form of a podcast. This was a childhood dream of mine, that I was able to accomplish thanks to the Learning Project of my EC&I 834 class. Although the class ended, the piano stayed in my life, helping me find my inner piece when life gets hectic.

I am very excited to learn about Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy since it is a relevant topic both in schools and in my own home. Looking forward to another great journey!

Thanks for stopping by!


Is this the end of my piano journey?

Looking back at my piano learning journey, words cannot describe how thankful I am. I never thought I’d have a chance to experience what it feels like to play even the most simple song on the piano, let alone read sheet music. Me, who sang in the school choir without being able to read the notes, I was able to acquire some basic knowledge. I feel truly blessed. I feel I got a gift that will stay with me till the end.

After three months, if I ask myself what is it that I am proud of, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I did not get stressed out when hitting road blocks in the learning process. Not knowing anything about this instrument probably helped, because my plan was very vague. I didn’t really know how to make a plan, neither did I have a vision where I would like to see myself at the end of the first three months, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I took one step at a time and enjoyed the journey.

Throughout this learning project, there were a number of people who shaped my learning. I connected on Twitter, through blog posts and comments, as well as Zoom discussions where my peers offered ideas and support. Catherine Ready was truly inspirational. Although I tried to “copy” her, I failed big time. But I absolutely loved listening to her play jazz piano. It was always like a breath of fresh air. Daina Seymour inspired me with her perseverance and great music practice sheets she shared from Denise Gagne. Dean Vendramin also played an important role modelling podcasting. But the list could go on and on with my peers offering professional and emotional help throughout my journey that made this experience truly valuable.

With so many MOOCS available, I was able to find a wide variety of resources. I found this process very time consuming, and overwhelming not knowing what to look for, until I started taking face-to-face piano lessons. Although some of the online resources claim to be free, this is many times valid only for the trial period. Since I invested in my piano lessons, I chose to look for free online materials. One of the biggest sources of learning through social media, was YouTube. I found several quality resources that I organized in Wakelet. These tutorials and podcasts played an important role in my “real learning” by offering valuable, high quality information for free.

It was interesting to observe myself learn a completely new skill while trying to find the most effective and enjoyable path. I am thankful for my Prof. Alec Couros who opened up the world of possibilities and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. I feel blessed to find such a supportive network in my peers. The person who was my true guide throughout my piano learning journey is my amazing piano teacher, Trevor Flemings, whom I would like to introduce to you in my last podcast of A New Beginning in the World of Music.

Thank you for being part of my journey! I cannot wait to share some of my dream songs with you in the near future. I will probably start with Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Stay tuned!

Summary of Learning – EC&I 831

I started out the semester using hashtag to describe myself without really knowing what it meant.

It certainly is a wonderful feeling to look back and compare myself with the person I was three months ago. I feel this class opened up my world. It helped me overcome my fear and be more active on social media. I still feel that keeping up with Twitter is very time consuming and overwhelming. There are so many valuable ideas and conversations if only there were enough hours in a day to be able to read and participate in all of them.

The most challenging part of this class was to share my podcasts on Twitter. Thankfully it turned out to be a rewarding experience. I figured out how to use Anchor all by myself and was able to record the major steps of my piano learning journey. Although being a support staff often makes it hard to incorporate things I learn as part of my classes, this time I was able to create a shorter podcast for grade 7/8 students incorporating an informative, persuasive and entertaining recording as part of their lesson on the author’s purpose. The students thought it was pretty cool. Talking about students, we never know who we are going to touch through our work. One day one of my students stopped me in the hallway asking if I was a YouTuber. I said not exactly but I do have YouTube videos such as my Summary of Learning from my EC&I 834 class. This student of mine stopped me in the hallway two days later with a huge smile on his face saying “Ms. Demeter! I subscribed to your channel”. I cannot believe that he came across my video without me ever mentioning it to anyone. I’m glad though that he checked it out and found it valuable.

Since this class gave me the opportunity to experiment with both, learning a new skill through face-to-face interaction and online resources, I came to the conclusion that I don’t really prefer one over the other. I feel they both have advantages and disadvantages and they can complement each other if a significant amount of time is invested in them. I also feel that building a relationship with my piano teacher during my face-to-face classes were extremely valuable in order to have guidance, and keep me on the right track when having no sense of direction.

I am thankful for the opportunity to listen to Dr. Roberts’ (2019) presentation on Open Educational Resources, as well as the follow up discussion lead by my colleague, Dean Vendramin in his podcast.

My biggest take away this semester is that I not only learnt about Open Educational Resources but also had a chance to immerse myself by practicing building relationships through social media, co-designing learning pathways while building my personal learning network through reflection and sharing. Having the opportunity to follow my peers’ learning journeys and reflections, as well as becoming familiar with the incredible work of a number of social activists, helped me realize how important the online world is when it comes to making great ideas flourish and staying connected.

As part of my Summary of Learning Podcast – EC&I 831, I decided to invite a very special friend of mine, Brandi to be my guest. Brandi, being a piano player, a Mom of three amazing children who also has teaching experience seemed to be my perfect guest to discuss social media and open educational resources in our personal and professional lives.

I would like to thank my Prof. Dr. Alec Couros for his support and his engaging, high quality online sessions as well as my colleagues for providing me with great ideas and encouraging me throughout the semester. Without you I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I would like to invite you to meet a true gem, Brandi, through my Summary of Learning Podcast.

Thank you!

Social Media Activism

Not being familiar with the term Social Media Activism, hearing the word “activism” immediately brought back pleasant and not so pleasant memories. Just as Catherine mentioned, the term activism is often identified with protests, marches and fighting for change that was very much present in my life growing up. Hearing the story of a few great social activists, helped me see the value of social activism. As Curtis described “By people joining in on social media for a cause, brings awareness to issues that may otherwise be dismissed”. Several intentional actions, formal or non-formal movements with the goal of bringing social change prove that social activism can be effective.

Marley Dias experiencing the lack of diversity in her grade 5 classroom starts a campaign looking for books about black girls. With the donations she has received, thanks to her online campaign, her collection reached 1000 books. Her promoting diversity led to the JetBlue’s Soar with Reading Initiative targeting the ‘book deserts’ neighbourhoods in New York by setting up six free vending machines where books are available all summer for borrowing.

Martha Payne, the ten year old school girl from Scotland by starting a blog about her daily lunches served at the school cafeteria, was not only able to reform the school cafeteria meals with the help of the support she was getting from all over the world, but through the Mary’s Meal Charity, she also helped build a kitchen in Malawi where 14000 people are being fed.

In the #CHHS Lets Talk, Brett Rothery raises awareness of mental health as well as the ‘Sit with us’ app. designed by the 16 years-old Natalie Hampton as a result of sitting alone her entire 7th grade in the school cafeteria are wonderful examples of using social media as a tool to make a difference.

No Strings is educating children in the form of a puppet show. The main reason for these wonderful puppeteers getting together was to open up new ways of thinking and help children deal with critical problems, such as staying away from landmines in Afghanistan. Today there is a wide variety of topic addressed in the form of puppet shows translated into different languages, demonstrating kids that there is hope.

Craftivist Sarah Corbett led a gentle protest with hand-embroidered hankies helping the retail employees working for M&S get higher wages, by reaching the goal of receiving the “Living Wage” accreditation.

As we see through the above mentioned social activists’ actions, they all met their goal of bringing social justice. In my view, having online conversations can be more productive since it gives a chance to reach people from all over the world. Although the online world has the power to provide support, the success doesn’t always come without a price. Social activists often face controversies and negativity that can escalate to higher levels, such as loosing a job.

When it comes to our responsibility as educators, I feel it is important to model to our students how to be digital citizens, by becoming personally responsible, participatory, as well as justice oriented citizens. We also have to teach them that freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. In order for them to become successful up-standers, it is crucial to teach them to take action in their community, as well as do research and build knowledge. I think it is important to teach students about the existence of negativity in the online world, such as doxing, as well as ways to deal with it if that ever becomes the case.


This week my piano teacher and I decided to look at songs and he suggested to try learning “Edelweiss”. Although it seems to be a challenging piece, I am going to give it a try. My wish list of songs keeps growing, and I hope that soon I do get to accomplish some of them.

Being a support staff, I often find it hard to implement the things I am learning in my Ed. Tech classes. I just started co-teaching with classroom teachers at the beginning of the school year, and right now we are working on a unit on Newspaper writing in a grade 7/8 classroom. While looking at the text features and the purpose of writing, I decided to do a recording with examples of entertaining-, persuasive-, and informative texts. The topic of these recordings is the same as my learning project. All recordings are based on piano learning. I also created the script so our beginner English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners can follow the text easier. Listening to a recording without seeing the person, not being able to read off their lips, makes it quite hard to understand all the details. Beside the listening and reading activities, as part of the unit, the students will also be discussing and writing their own newspaper articles. Incorporating the four domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing are key when it comes to language learning. I am excited about the opportunity to co-teach with my colleague and I am looking forward to creating new, engaging ways when it comes to supporting our EAL students.

In this week’s podcast, I mainly focused on ways I can implement what I had learnt through my learning project into my teaching. I also tried to play with the idea of spicing up my podcast a bit, so I included a story that I often listen to in the Philosophy of Piano podcast focusing on the importance of state of mind and believing in the power of inner voice. This is especially helpful for me when I am thinking of my final project, the Summary of Learning.

For the Summary of Learning, I am planning to interview my piano teacher on the topics of piano learning and playing using social media and face-to-face interactions, open educational resources and open educational practices. I am preparing myself for this BIG step ahead of me with Buddha’s inspirational words.

Thank you for being part of my journey! 🙂

How OEP is affecting me as a teacher and student

I often wonder where I would be, regarding my English language knowledge, if I had access to Open Educational Resources (OER) growing up. If I think back, most of my schooling in Romania, with extrinsic motivation playing a big role, always focusing on the grades, was mainly based on “surface learning” (Roberts, 2019). Comparing my previous experiences with my EC&I 831 class, I clearly understand the difference between “surface learning” and “deep learning” described by Dr. Roberts (2019) with the latter based on intrinsic motivation. In the learner centred environment of EC&I 831, I am given the opportunity to learn something that I am truly passionate about, leading to “knowledge-creation” through a high level of intrinsic motivation.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about Open Educational Practices (OEP) through the eyes of both, a university student as well as a teacher. Through my piano learning project, I am experiencing the four stages of Open Learning Design Intervention (OLDI) described by Dr. Roberts (2019) which helps me better understand the steps of my own learning and the value behind each step.

I didn’t have any doubts regarding my learning project since I felt I was part of a safe learning space with my supportive professor, Dr. Alec Couros and peers by my side. I also felt that the abundant world of OER is hard to use for a number of reasons. For me personally, the hardest part was to find high-quality, user friendly resources. It is challenging to decide if the resources are quality materials or not, especially when the topic, or skill is completely new. To overcome this barrier, I decided to find a piano teacher for co-designing and scaffolding purposes along my piano learning journey. Building and sharing my experiences and knowledge in the form of a podcast and on Twitter made me feel quite vulnerable. Overcoming the strange feeling of being outside of my comfort zone and recording every step while taking risks and making mistakes, literally in front of the world, help me see my own growth within my learning path. After overcoming the fear of being judged, sharing also brought me the gift of interactions, positive feedback, collaborations, and connections leading to learning from one another. Reflecting on the “multiple people, spaces, perspectives, experiences and nodes of learning” (Roberts, 2019) combined with an open mind and willingness to learn helped me build a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

At the end of the day, as a support staff, I find it quite challenging to incorporate OER and OEP. Beside the major drawback, which is lack of time in my case, Dr. Verena Roberts discussed in the podcast hosted by Dean Vendramin that we need to have open readiness as well. Having no digital literacy skills can make the OEP quite hard to happen. Lori Thibault also names a number of drawbacks in her blogpost, such as finding reliable, age-appropriate resources, having limited access to devices, programs, applications, low internet speed, lack of technological training and adequate amount of preparation time. At this time, I am focusing on building a safe space for my students as well as expanding the learning environment beyond the classroom walls by finding, creating, remixing and sharing my learning experiences through social media, blogging, and podcasting.

Time signature and intervals

Keeping my head up and moving forward with my slow and steady pace, I did make a bit of a progress and learnt a few new concepts this past week.

I had a chance to learn about these interesting numbers that one would see at the start of a line when looking at a music sheet. These symbols are called time signatures that tell how many beats are in a measure. I was mainly focusing on 3/4 and 4/4. In a 3/4 measure you’d count 1, 2, 3 and in a 4/4 measure you’d count 1, 2, 3, 4 with a major accent on 1 and a fairly minor accent on 3 in the 4/4 measure.

Although there are other time signatures in piano, such as 2/4 and 6/8, at this point I am only ready to demonstrate the 3/4 and 4/4 measures in my weekly podcast through the “Theme by Mozart” and “Party Time” songs.

Another new concept I became familiar with is the interval. Interval is the space between two notes used to create different feelings. Intervals are called 2nd (C to D), 3rd (C to E), 4th (C to F), 5th (C to G), 6th (C to A), 7th (C to B), the octave (C to C) depending on how many spaces are between the keys. There are two kinds of intervals, when the keys are played separately it is called melodic interval, and when played simultaneously, it is called harmonic interval.

Since I am only focusing on the white keys at this point, I am planning to learn more about intervals as well as continue to work on finger independence through various finger exercises. This is going to be my goal probably for the next year. Lol

I am also planning to speed up my sight reading through BAGE Mad Minutes that I learnt about from Daina Seymour’s blog. I am also determined to play the 2 octave with parallel hands. After three weeks, I am at the point where I am getting mad with this thing. How is it possible that I can play it with separate hands, but cannot put it together? I hope I will have some good news for you by the end of next week.

Thank you for being part of my journey, keeping me strong with your kind words and encouragement and sharing wonderful ideas that help me move forward. As a sign of my appreciation I’d like to end this blog with a piano joke:

Thanks for reading my blog! Stay tuned 🙂