Gerry's Tech Journey

I am going on a technology adventure will you come with me?

Final Reflections

If someone asked me about my EC&I 832 major project and how I have grown they would need to be prepared for a long answer. The easy answer is that I have grown to appreciate and value that DigCit is essential for students to learn in this present day. I can also state that DigCit teaches student how to use technology safely and responsibly. My responses are correct but it does not give you the depth and breath of what DigCit truly is.

What I learned in my major project is that DigCit gathers momentum in schools when you can anchor the learning to something of substance. For me linking DigCit with treaty education in an early learning center was invaluable. Being able to work with other people in a manner that promoted vertical and horizontal evaluation of the learning resources was simply incredible. When you have a community working with you to help promote DigCit in schools, you quickly realize that without their expertise some mistakes would have been made. For example, some treaty education hardcopy and online resources did not meet the standard when reviewed with the Indigenous Advisory Committee. As well, when working with early learning educators and Indigenous community members it was made clear that the use of technology was a difficult topic to discuss.

However through proper discourse we as a community were able to come together to better prepare our students for the present day and future. I want to emphasize that DigCit principles helped ensure that all Indigenous communities are treated in a “Good” and respectful manner. There is a resource that really helped me when bringing treaty education and DigCit together. The document is Starting from the Heart: Going Beyond a Land Acknowledgement. It reaffirmed the steps that I took to get the major project going in the school division. The link is listed below:

Just like was the bowling analogy that Shelly Moore makes regarding UDL. I sincerely believe that DigCit when used correctly can meet all the students in the classroom. For DigCit is simply good practice that reaches all students in the classroom. When that occurs I guarantee you will see the fruits of you labor in the eyes of your students.

What is true and what are the consequences?

The Fake News presentation that Holly, Cymone and Chris was outstanding. I have not stopped thinking about it and had to finally write a blog about it. I really appreciated how they broke down the differences between false information. I have heard a lot about misinformation and disinformation:

Misinformation = Wrong information not intended to cause harm

Disinformation = Fabricated content intended to cause harm

What surprised me was Mal-information and I really had to work at what does that look like. I found a great resource on the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. It refers to Mal-information as “information that stems from the truth but is often exaggerated in a way that misleads and causes potential harm. In the presentation the following definition was used, “True information used against someone for advantage”.

My question is could “trusted” media sources be accused of mal-information? For example by not providing the total story is it possible a media outlet could exaggerate a story while gaining more readership, which then leads to more financial gain for the organization? The presentation in our class simply made me much more alert when looking at media sources. I believe it is absolutely essential that a person is vigilant and checks multiple sources before making a judgment on what they have read. A perfect example is what has happened in society as a result of the pandemic. People have become skeptical of scientific findings. I have a sibling that I discuss current issues with and with her background in the medical field she indicated that we need to be vigilant when it comes to scientific data. She made a good point “don’t just take the scientific data from a pharmaceutical company…. always check it with other sources when possible”.

I thought that last point was interesting. If the source of the information is able to “profit” from the data they are sharing should be be cautious?” I really appreciated the characteristics of an information literate person:

  1. Identify
  2. Find
  3. Evaluate
  4. Apply
  5. Acknowledge

I am just wondering is any source truly neutral? My final point is that I can really appreciate the amount of anxiety that this must cause in our students. On the ISTE website there is a link below to help students know when they need to unplug from technology and help them regain their balance.

What do you think are the best ways as teachers we can model to our students how to strive for balance in an information overload environment?

Just Google it

When growing up I joke about a digital divide between myself and my peers. My peers would have been characterized as being part of the MTV Generation. This refers to how adolescents raised in the 1980’s were influenced by MTV television channel. I have attached a brief video to provide you further detail regarding MTV Generation.

MTV Generation. (2022, February 22). Wikipedia.

In our home we had three TV channels, CTV, CBC and Radio Canada. We never had cable TV in our home. I was part of a large family and when we were all together usually around a supper table we would have very in depth discussions regarding the issues of the day. Even though I enjoyed listening to everyone’s thoughts on a particular topic, I noticed I felt like a bit of an outsider when I was with my peers. Often times my friends would make comments on things they saw on TV. I was completely unaware of many of the topics that would come up. I would be amazed on the knowledge my peers had regarding music, sports and general knowledge. There was a documentary made in 1991 titled the MTV Generation. This documentary mentioned that concerns arose associated with the MTV Generation such as reduced attention spans and being apathetic. So, even in the 1980’s technology was associated with the decline of higher cognitive skills.

Now decades later what is our present relationship between technology and it’s influence on younger generations? In initial discussions in our EC&I 832 class it was brought up regarding the same concerns regarding the influence of technology and today’s younger generations and how it impacts learning in the classroom. These same arguments have existed even before the introduction of MTV to adolescents in the 1980’s.

Do you think it is the technology or the lack of guidance that has more of an impact on the development of critical thinking skills in our students?

This past week I had the pleasure to review a presentation in my class that will answer the question above. The presentation addressed what role should schools play in preparing student to become media/digitally literate? One particular slide grabbed my attention with a simple equation:

digital literacy = digital tool knowledge + critical Thinking + social engagement (Promethean, 2017)

The article Digital Literacy in the classroom. How important is it? was posted in 2017 and it is still relevant today. In fact it is becoming even more critical as time goes by for times are changing and different skills will be needed by people if they will want to be successful in the future. For example, as our economy changes from industrial to new information, technology and service based occupations. New expectations will be thrusted upon the younger generations. One of the expectations that are needed is digital literacy and everyone who uses technology needs to develop these skills. Digital literacy should not be confused with computer literacy. Computer literacy measures the “ability to use computers and to maintain a basic understanding of how they operate.” (Wikipedia Contributors, 2019).

Digital literacy refers to the equation listed above which stresses 3 critical components:

  1. Digital Tool Knowledge
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Social Engagement

What this means is that we must challenge teachers hidden beliefs that correlates students high technology literacy with high digital literacy. This is a dangerous assumption. Digital literacy is much more comprehensive. If we want students to be prepared to meet future challenges in the world we need to first teach them properly. Deep learning is a term that was presented by my classmates.

The intention of deep learning is to promote curious, life long and independent learners. There are 6 core skills:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Creativity
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Citizenship
  5. Character
  6. Communication

If we don’t teach students properly, it is not the technology’s fault. Just like when MTV was introduced in the 80’s was there appropriate guidance for that generation on how to use that technology? Did it foster the characteristics of that generation that were presented in the documentary? Was the generation aware of the importance of digital/media literacy? Now, technology has evolved and we don’t have just the TV channels to contend with. We now have technology permeating in all facets of our lives.

The point that is being made is that deep learning is essential in today’s classroom. The digital world is her to stay. Are we willing to risk our students’ future by not teaching them essential skills to help them mitigate threats, while taking on challenges in life? I will say there is no debate, we must foster those key core skills. If not we run the risk of future generations just getting their guidance by googling.

Promethean. (2018, June 29). Digital literacy in the classroom. How important is it? – ResourcEd. ResourcEd.

Wikipedia Contributors. (2019, October 28). Computer literacy. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.

What is Deep Learning? Who are the Deep Learning Teachers? (n.d.). ASCD.

What are the Benefits and Consequences for integrating Technology in Classrooms?

The classroom is really a microcosm of the world. The students represent the diversity of people and the classroom is society. You can see how technology has positive and negative consequences within a classroom. Schools are not insulated from societal influences and visa versa. Just ask yourself how many times the classroom/school environment was addressing an issue that originated from outside the educational setting? Typically, when situations like these occur it is usually a result of technology being misused by a student or even a teacher/staff member.

Throughout our discussions in EC&I 832 discussions have revolved around the importance of best technology practices so we can ensure a safe environment for our students in an educational setting. I like how a classmate distinguished the difference between Ethical and Legal issues. Many times as educators we deal with day to day ethical issues pertaining to responsible use policy to even the issue of equal access to technology for our students. In our technology department we have connected regularly with our teachers and they have indicated that “one shoe does not fit all”. This applies to addressing the the ethical issue pertaining to the great digital divide between students that have technology and the students that do not have technology. If a student does not have technology at home and they are at home for an extended period this can imped the level of academic support. Many teachers at this time post assignments, provide continuous feedback and lessons on student information systems. If a student is disconnected due to lack of technology access this will place a student in disadvantaged position.

Some other issues can be cyberbullying and inappropriate disclosure of private information. We need to always ask ourselves do our students understand the impact a digital footprint has on one’s life?

Then there exists the legal side when using technology in a educational setting. I have personally heard discussions between colleagues regarding the appropriate use of copyright rules. It has become essential that teachers develop a solid understanding of the common issues surrounding intellectual property rights, plagiarism and especially digital property rights. In particular, teachers need to teach students the importance of citing your work.

As a member of a technology department I think it is really important that we support teachers in understanding the importance of not only copyright but also the issue of patent and trademark use as well. It reminds me of the discussion we had regarding a person who downloaded songs and shared with other people. This stresses the importance of due diligence required by teaching staff to teach students the importance of following proper use of technology in an educational setting. I would also suggest that we should teach students the risks when it comes to ransomware, phishing and hacking. We take for granted when students walk to school and arrive safely. We don’t think that students need to know how to use good pedestrian skills so they don’t get hit by a vehicle while going to school. In good conscious, a parent/guardian would always teach their child how to be safe in the physical world. So, why do we not apply the same principal when it comes to the digital world?

My question to you the reader is do you think we fail to teach students the proper use of technology because the risks are not as apparent?

Digital footprints is an excellent example how how someone can be exploited even without their knowledge. Often times, people do not realize the information they share online is collected and saved into servers. So our students really need to know the importance of proper online behaviour. That means that students should first know what digital resources are most secure and trusted. They need to frequently change their passwords. Last but not least students need to think before they post or share anything online. Because if you can’t see the threat/risk does not mean it does not exist.

The Great Divide

I am enjoying the discussion in our EC&I 832 class. It makes me think a lot about the complexity of the issue we as educators are trying to address when it comes to Digital Citizenship and literacy. I believe there exists a correlational and causational relationship between Digital/Media literacy and Digital Citizenship. I would also would recognize that people need to recognize that Digital/Media Literacy is an essential skill that needs to continually evolve. When communities vary regarding access to digital resources in particular information and communication technologies this creates communities of “have” or “have nots”.

In the article of Digital Equity for Indigenous Communities it addresses the technological discrepancy issues that exist within our non-indigenous and indigenous communities. In a 2017 survey the article references that only 24 percent of households in indigenous communities have access to quality, high speed internet. That means that families in Indigenous communities have less access to socially connect with family and friends especially during the pandemic. It is also more difficult for Indigenous families receive important information that they could benefit from. Mike Ribble in his book “The Digital Citizenship Handbook for School Leaders” on page 47 asks the question “What will this generation of digital technology users pass along to their children and to their children’s children?” Based on the article mentioned above it would be an easy argument to make that Indigenous Families are at a disadvantage. Indigenous students that come from a community that experience a “digital divide” will experience more barriers in life. They simply are not provided the opportunity to learn the essential digital literacy skills that will help them to be more successful in life. Plainly said, it is not a level playing field between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities.

Digital/Media Literacy when used appropriately should have some pretty clear indicators. One of those indicators is a person or community being able to connect with other people and communities in a positive manner through technology. It is evident that relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have eroded over a period of time due to being disconnected. Through appropriate ways of communicating through technology, which incorporates listening, sharing and a willingness to learn we can build an interconnected healthy community. Here is the challenge that I see. if we don’t address the “Digital Divide” then that means parents and guardians working with educators have a more difficult time meeting the digital/Media literacy needs of the next generation. If Indigenous students are disadvantaged because of less technological learning opportunities what kind of other co-morbid issues will arise as a result? The picture of my mind is a fire fighter putting out little fires everywhere but may not have the resources to address the primary fire that is creating all the issues. So let’s put it in an educator context. If a teacher is busy addressing issues associated with lack of digital fluency in students as a result of the “Digital Divide”, do they ever meet the primary needs of the student(s) they are trying to support?

So I ask how do educators/parents/guardians meet the children/students technological/Digital Fluency needs so they can have a successful life?

First Nation Advisory Committee Meeting

Well it’s certainly feels good to be writing and sharing my thoughts regarding the use of technology while working with the First Nation Community in an educational setting. I am happy to report that we held our first, First Nation Advisory Committee Meeting. I have been reading a lot regarding how to facilitate and support a First Nation Advisory Committee Meeting. What I have learned is that It is critical that I am cognizant regarding the importance of this committee and truly listen to the group’s recommendations.

During my the Advisory Committee Meeting I asked for guidance and wow was it ever useful. What I appreciated is the group’s desire to have a purpose and direction. We quickly understood the complexity of what we are trying to accomplish in our schools. For one we needed clear direction on how we are going to support First Nation cultural permeation within our schools. Secondly, we need to understand that First Nation Cultures are vast and complex. Lastly, we need to understand what is our circle of influence and where can we make progress when it comes to understanding First Nation culture and how we can relate with each other. I struggled about doing things the “Right Way”. However, it was gently pointed out to me that the “Right Way” for First Nation cultural permeation does not have a one way fits all approach. It was suggested that if we want to use technology in a manner that facilitates understanding for First Nation culture we must do things in a “Good Way” instead.

So what does “Good” practice look when it comes to First Nation cultural permeation? Well, If you are like me your mind starts to see the magnitude and complexity this initiative can become. The Advisory Committee was able to help me determine that their are two paths at this time that we can pursue. In the short term we can look at the opportunities or “low hanging fruit” which is attainable in helping our students understand First Nation culture. The long term plan however is to develop a plan that uses technology in a manner that helps people to start their journey of understanding First Nation culture and understand the context of where people are coming from.

Do you have any ideas of how we can recognize the complexity of First Nation culture while developing a resource that people can access regularly to support interpersonal collaboration?

Learning Cross-Cultural Education in Digital Environments

The more I look into cross-cultural education in digital environments the more I feel I have a very steep learning curve. In particular the more we dialogue at the confluence of early learning, technology and learning improvement and indigenous Ways of Knowing, I appreciate the importance of a clear vision from the First Nation Community. The vision from the First Nation Community pertaining to cultural permeation must be held with the highest of respect and care. When you introduce digital environments with cultural permeation it becomes apparent that the potential is great at the same time if technology is not used properly it could have substantial adverse consequences.

I have been reading an article “Learning in digital environments: a model for cross cultural alignment. The focus of the article was to respond to emerging questions regarding learners and the learning environment and how it is evolving in a networked society. It points out that a successful learner needs to have foundational components in place to be able to achieve in the present and in the future. Students need competencies in the intercultural and digital domains. While developing collaborative and life long learning skills. I can help to think that a networked society means that students can now connect with not only peers in their classroom but also with people around the world. That really points out the need for intercultural competencies doesn’t it?

For students to be successful professional development is essential for teachers. We need teachers to know how to help students nurture the above mentioned four competencies and skills. Teacher’s need to help address as best as they can the digital inequalities and ethical issues that come up daily in our educational settings. That said the underlying theme for me is that we must encourage our student’s to be engaged and not passive in a digital environment in order to ensure a person’s wellbeing. This research paper by Mirie Shonfeld (2021) indicates that the use of digital tools can contribute more successfully to cross cultural understanding than just face to face meetings. I can not think to ask the question, could that mean that digital environments could be a resource when supporting First Nation culture in our schools?

How do you think technology should be used in supporting cultural permeation within the education system?

Shanfeld, M. (2021). Learning in digital environments: a model for cross-cultural alignment. Education Tech Research Dev.

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship and Treaty Education

In my last blog post we discussed the issue of Copyright Laws in Canada and how it applies to Indigenous Culture. Depending on which side of the fence you stand on will determine who will be identified as the owner of the intellectual property. As I wrote previously, “The question that should be discussed is who are the true owners of Indigenous knowledge? Is it the author who writes about Indigenous knowledge or the Indigenous people/community? So how do we ethically address this issue in the classroom setting?

RESPECT/Digital Etiquette

As a result of ED&I 832 it was decided that we needed to form an Indigenous Advisory Committee to ensure that we are implementing treaty education in classes with the use of technology in a respectful manner. Oral tradition is very important when discussing Indigenous Culture. One area we found that was a learning curve was that electronic standards of conduct or procedure could differ from one Indigenous Community to another. For example the Indigenous Advisory Committee mentioned that no video or audio recording can be used during sacred ceremonies. A question was asked in that discussion pertaining to students. It was asked “How many students would pull their phone out and capture it on their device”? Advisory Committee acknowledged that this is a concern that Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students may not realize the proper etiquette when it comes to technology use in the context of Indigenous culture.

EDUCATE/Digital Communication

The Advisory Committee has been providing support regarding the appropriate use of technology in the context of treaty education. One point that was stressed was the importance of Elder and Knowledge Keeper contact with the students in person or through web conferencing. They mentioned that digital communication could be used to facilitate a connection with the Indigenous Community Members. It was expressed that it is important that oral traditions be respected and students should and need the opportunity to hear it first hand from a credible source. Lastly, it was stressed that any video that is captured must be used in it’s entirety. The teacher will have guidelines regarding how to present any treaty education materials in the classroom.

PROTECT/Digital Rights and Responsibilities

In my blog I write about the Digital Divide that exists between Indigenous and Non Indigenous Communities. It is paramount that all students regardless of their cultural background receive equal access to technology. By introducing technology/Digital Citizenship to early learners are hope to help reduce the Digital Divide between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities.

One platform that we have selected is by using Boom Cards. The platform can be accessed at Also, we will be including in our treaty kits Ipads so students can express what they have learned regarding treating education and be able to share it with their peers, teachers and parents.

What are your thoughts regarding activities Early Learners can participate that would strengthen their Digital Citizenship skills?

Cyber Ethics and Indigenous Communities

As I work on my major project I have been wrestling with the Cyber Ethics pertaining to the education sector working with Indigenous Communities. I found a position statement regarding Indigenous Knowledge in Canada’s Copyright Act (Canadian Federation of Library Associations, 2018) that clearly defines the presenting issue.

I issue is that Canada’s Copyright Act clearly does not protect Indigenous knowledge. This is concerning for Indigenous knowledge is rooted in oral tradition and if it is not handled with due care it can result in information being altered. In the position statement it is stated that in Canadian Law, “the author of a published work holds the legal copyright to that knowledge or cultural expression, while the Indigenous peoples from whom the knowledge originated have lost their ownership rights”.

So in reality it could be said that Canada’s current Copyright Act is directly in conflict with how Indigenous nations view copyright ownership. The question that should be discussed is who are the true owners of Indigenous knowledge? Is it the author who writes about Indigenous knowledge or the Indigenous people/community? The Copyright Act would say the owner would be the author. Through the eyes of the Indigenous community would say that their cultural knowledge has been stolen.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) completed a Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report in 2017. In the report it provided 10 recommendations in regards to how to move forward in a manner that respects Indigenous culture and increases the access of traditional Indigenous knowledge. On a particular note, recommendation 8 should be noted in particular when applying it to how the public education sector and how it should work with Indigenous communities in order to ensure the highest care is in place when dealing with Indigenous culture. Recommendation 8 stresses the importance of having protocols and agreements in place with local and other Indigenous groups. This pertains to Indigenous heritage that would include the following: oral traditions, songs, dance, storytelling, anecdotes, lace names, and “all other forms of Indigenous knowledges” (Canadian Federation of Library Associations Truth and Reconciliation Committee, 2017). This document specifically points out the relationship between libraries and the Indigenous community. However, I would say that this is a good working model that public education should replicate in order to ensure that treaty education is successfully implemented in the classrooms.

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