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

Month: March 2022

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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTV_Generation#:~:text=Reviewing%20it%2C%20the%20New%20York

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. https://resourced.prometheanworld.com/digital-literacy-classroom-important/

Wikipedia Contributors. (2019, October 28). Computer literacy. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_literacy

What is Deep Learning? Who are the Deep Learning Teachers? (n.d.). ASCD. https://www.ascd.org/blogs/what-is-deep-learning-who-are-the-deep-learning-teachers

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?