Boy vr room. Generate AiThis week I was drawn to two different articles discussing media and our current use.  Reflecting on them, I can’t help to think how far we have come, but in the same sense what have we also lost? In the Federman article,  McLahan’s concept of the meaning to “the medium is the message” is explored.  My big takeaway from the article is how quickly we were forced into the use of technology during Covid (sorry for bringing it up).  Technology allowed us to bring students and families into virtual classrooms, that allowed the school a way to stay connected.  The time that followed post Covid (thank goodness) allowed us to continue to incorporate these new found technologies such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Seesaw, and a host of other website and services into everyday teaching.  Is this still sustainable to use technology in this way?  For our school and division it no longer is….well not as much of it.

Our school, like many other have had to cut way back on our technology in the building.  Two weeks in…it has not been a bad thing.  Like Federman states,

“after a long period of time and experience with the new innovation, we look backward and realize that there were some effects of which we were entirely unaware at the outset.”

We knew we had issues with technology last year.  There is always hiccups and a learning curve for students, but the issues weren’t about the use of software, it was the behaviours we were seeing in some of our students.  Some were hooked, and not in the good sense.  They became dependent on needing the screen time that they yearned for.  What should of became a useful teaching aid, often became just a distraction or a temptation.

In her 2012 Ted Talk Connected, but alone? | Sherry Turkle – YouTube, Sherry makes some great observations about how technology changes us.  She states, it “not only chang(ed) what we do, but who we are.”  I feel more than ever now this is so true.  My own kids are glued to their screens if we allow them the opportunity, and watch mindless content (how Dad views their watching at least).  With a son in Grade 6, cell phones are a hot topic for us around our house.  Does he need it? No.  Would there be benefits of him having one?  Sure.  Is it going to improve his communication skills…. sorry got distracted by an incoming snapchat of a ceiling.  Now I’m back.

False ceiling in a small kitchen

Have to keep that streak alive!

Small boy watching movie or playing game on his smartphone in the evening. Closeup detail, his face illuminated by device screen. Generative AI

My fascination with the new technology grows weekly, even from last winter and my EC&I courses, there has been incredible new AI programs.  I found it funny that Turkle references iPhone Siri becoming more of a friend, fast forward to today and Snapchat has the My AI feature built in.  Innovative and purposeful, yes.  Scary at the same time, for sure.  What types of data is being collected with these responses?  Or what kind of advice is being said back to the users?  With all technology comes responsibility, some of us are ready for it and some are not.  Turkle references the 3 main fascinations we have with technology:

1) We can put our attention where we want it to be

2) We can always be heard

3) We never have to be alone

I’ll be the first to admit that I have looked at my phone during a meeting.  How am I not supposed to expect that my students or my own kids would do the same.  What my worry is, when the phone or tablets disappear, can my students still communicate their thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way?  Being able to assess online content and media goes much further than hitting a like button, or leaving a brief comment.  The ability to comprehend the content and digest it through a healthy way is my goal with my students.  How do you handle media literacy with your students or your own kids for that matter?