This Class is Brought to You by…

We live in a consumerist society. We see something shiny advertised on a billboard and we are sold. We like to be the best by having the top brands and we stay loyal to the brands we like. At least I do. I can honestly name 10 companies I always buy products from in the matter of a minute. Crazy? Maybe. This week in our EDTC 400 class, our debate focused on the topic if whether or not “Public education has sold its soul to corporate interests”.On the agreement side was Liz and on the disagreement side was Shaleen. This was an interesting debate to say the least as we talked a LOT about the University of Regina’s million-dollar sign but we did explore ideas beyond the sign.


Liz’s Video

Liz started the debate by hitting us with cold hard facts. Some of these facts included companies like Pearson (a textbook company) creating standardized testing in the schools to coincide with THEIR textbooks… Other ideas included in Liz’s video and our class debate were:

  • Textbook companies
    • The companies are instructing teachers what to learn and some companies favour regions which by the most textbooks
      • For instance, Liz took a class where the company sold the majority of textbooks to Texas so as a French immersion student, she was upset when there was a Spanish translation instead of a French translation 
      • What does Pearson offer? Check this out!
  • Pepsi and Coke drink machines
    • Kids are getting hooked on these drinks since they are easily accessible
    • I don’t think I need to explain to anyone why pop isn’t healthy, it’s kind of common knowledge but here’s some facts anyways. 
  • Schools spend money from cooperation’s foolishly 
    • Ex: University of Regina sign
  • Creating lifetime consumers
    • Students will buy what they are familiar with
    • Ex: If students use Chromebooks all throughout their education, they may be afraid to use a PC so they will buy a Chromebook since they are familiar with it.
Is this okay in schools?
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The Inside Story of How Bill Gates Bought the Common Core” further emphasizes how corporations have taken over schools. Bill Gates was asked by two gentlemen about him to create education standards, known as the Common Core standards. Schools did not even conduct trials on these standards, they just went along with it. Crazy? As the article goes on to say Gates did something no one else had done it concludes by leaving readers with one comment; “never has one man had the wealth, the political connections, and the grand ambition to buy American education. But Bill Gates did it,”.

Switching gears from standardization to Pepsi and Coke. Did your school have pop machines? Mine did, but they were not allowed to put pop into the machines, instead our machines were filled with Gatorade, juice and water. But no one bought juice and water, it was all Gatorade. In an article written by Tom Philpott, titled “80 Percent of Public Schools Have Contracts With Coke or Pepsi”, we are able to learn more about corporations entering the hallways of our schools. School are using these drink machines in a term called “pouring rights contracts” which means schools are allowing companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola into their schools in drink machines and advertising their companies. We had multiple students point out they had scoreboards with the Pepsi logo clearly visible on it. Is this good? No, companies like Pepsi have products which are high in sugars and who knows what else is bad in which are affecting student’s weight. In fact, students are more obese more than ever in this day and age as Philpott found “according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, obesity rates among children ages 6 to 11 have quadrupled over the past four decades, and nearly a third of children and adolescents-more than 23 million kids and teenagers-are obese or overweight,”. Concerning, right? Let’s explore what Shaleen had to say about this.

Do teacher’s have a say with where money goes?
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Shaleen’s Video

Shaleen did not back down from this fight. She brought up points such as schools buy what they can afford and other strong arguments with ideas coming my other EDTC 400 classmates including ideas such as:

  • Schools buy what they can afford 
  • Do teachers have a voice for what is bought for their classroom?
    • Do administrators at the schools acknowledge teachers’ needs and requests?
  • We live in a capitalist society
    • Our government is not providing enough money for schools so companies are filling in the void to get teachers and students what they need.

Ask the expert: smartly investing in education technology” written by Matthew Lynch explores the rise and need for technology in the classroom. If you have taken any education classes, you will quickly learn technology is a pretty handy tool in the classroom, and this article justifies that. The problem though? Schools are not able to keep up to the rising cost of technologies. The solution? If schools are not given a large enough budget to cover the needs of technology, corporations are stepping in. Lynch provides examples by writing, “A number of companies and foundations regularly donate to schools, for example the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,”. 

Aside from the cost of technology, schools are also using corporate companies for good. Schools are using Google DriveEdmodoTwitter and other corporations for education. Look at the University of Regina, UR courses is a Google product and we use it EVERY DAY. 

How many companies sponsored this scoreboard?
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The Verdict

In this debate, we also talked about how some schools have field trips sponsored by companies like Boston Pizza. Even though this is a corporate company, isn’t going to BP’s with your classmates the most exciting field trip ever when you’re young? It’s debateable, some schools may not be able to go on field trips but is going to BP’s to eat pizza really an educational school trip? Does it sound more like a birthday party? Another question brought up from this debate is, how are schools using the funding? Reference the U of R sign, again. And lastly, are rural schools funded by corporations as much as city schools? I know at my old high school, we did not have scoreboards with the Pepsi logo, our new football booth, is not corporate funded unless you call local businesses donating the supplies and the grade 12 construction class doing the labour, a corporation. In the end, I do not know exactly where I stand with this debate. In one way, I see concerns about textbook companies like Pearson’s favouring their top buyers by putting information more relevant to that area as compared to another area which does not buy textbooks as often or in as large amounts. That scares me. So does the health risks with pop machines, but if a high school student is buying Pepsi every day, should they not know better by this age? Would this topic not be covered in health? What’s the difference if a student buys the Pepsi in their school hallways or at the convenient store at the corner of the street? The problem isn’t about where the Pepsi came from, but the student not knowing the health effects of this. On the other hand, schools may not be able to afford ‘stuff’ for their students without extra money from external sources. If students do not have this extra ‘stuff’ or even necessary ‘stuff’, their education is being affected. In the end, I did vote for the agreement side for schools selling their souls to corporations. But in reality, I think it all comes down to BALANCE. 

Video Killed the Radio Star

Picture this. It’s 1978. You’re in your car which has no air conditioning and you have to manually roll the windows down. You turn the radio on and “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles comes on.  You start jamming out. Now fast forward to 2019, the new song is “social media killed childhood”. Okay, so that may have been a bit extreme but this week in EDTC400 we debated the topic of whether Social media is ruining childhood or not with Lauren providing us with facts on the agreement side and Kylie giving information for the disagreement side.

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Lauren’s Video

Lauren provided us with a very strong argument for why social media is indeed ruining childhood. Points by Lauren and our class include: 

  • Social media is affecting mental health
    • Youth may become depressed if they are not followed by a certain person or getting a certain number of likes on a post
    • F.O.MO. = Fear of missing out which a phobia youth may develop when they see friends partaking in activities in which they are not participating 
  • Digital footprint
    • Youth are creating a digital footprint before they even know what one is
  • Cyberbullying
    • Social media is just one platform where bullying takes place
  • Age Restrictions
    • Many social media accounts like Snapchat for instance but children younger than this are forming accounts
    • One question sparked in our debate was “Social media requires one to be at least 13 years of age to make an account, but parents are allowing children to make accounts much earlier. Ironically, the same parents are not allowing their children to watch a PG-14 movie when they are 13. Why is that?
      • I couldn’t actually tell you the answer but if you have one, be sure to comment it!
  • Whisper and Ask.FM
    • These two apps are where people can post anonymous questions or statements which often included personal information which may lead to cyberbullying.
  • Creativity
    • If students see an idea online and copy it or add their own personal mark to it, is the student really coming up with their own idea or copying and adapting someone else’s?
  • Documentation
    • Are we documenting too much of our lives? Should we step out from being behind the camera and jump into the moment?
Are we hiding behind a camera?
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Smartphones and Anxious Kids: Mental Health Issues and the iGeneration” focuses on the mental health aspect of social media. In this article, the term deindividuated communication is introduced. So, what does the term mean? According to the website deindividuated communication is “when they [youth] communicate via smartphone texting or via social media, they feel essentially faceless, absent or anonymous and unaccountable for what they are saying,”. Ultimately, this means youth are more willing to bully online because they would never say it to the persons face but when you do it online who really cares? Terrible view on the situation I know, but that is what cyberbullying is, it’s saying things you would never say to a person and the only way you are able to say it is online where one feels more powerful because it’s “just words”.

Also, students are not spending enough time in the great outdoors. I can speak for myself when I say being outdoors is rejuvenating for the mind and body. There have been studies on Green Spaces being good for one’s health so if social media is distracting youth from the outdoors, can social media be good for them? 

The outdoors is good for us, who would have thought?
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Is New Technology and Social Media Ruining Our Children’s Lives?” continues to keep the agreement side strong. It brings to readers attention that children are so consumed by social media and technology, they are “growing up with lack of key life skills such as being able to read or riding a bike,”. I learnt how to ride a bike way before I knew how to even turn on a computer. Much to my surprise, I learnt after reading this article “17 per cent of children under 3 own a smart phone or tablet,” which is interesting. I have a 3-year-old cousin who has an iPad, and while she played on it, it may not be in the fashion you are thinking of. She didn’t play a game on her iPad, she instead jumped on her iPad. So maybe technology isn’t as great as we expect?


Kylie’s Video

While Lauren may have been convincing on her side of the argument, Kylie stood tall against her argument that social media does not ruin childhood. Points raised by Kylie and our class discussion:

  • Open doors
    • Social media opens doors for youth such as allowing them to have a voice in a space where they are traditionally not invited into
  • Mental health initiatives promotions
    • For those who are struggling with their mental health, there are online platforms to let them know they are not alone
  • MOMO
    • While Momo was threatening kids online, social media spread word of this creature initiating parents to talk to their children about internet safety and warn others of this challenging creature
  • Traditionally, humans avoid social situations.
    • Shaleen raised the point that humans once read newspapers on busses to avoid talking to others and the only element which has charged was what people were reading. Why is reading cellphones on a bus frowned upon but reading a newspaper isn’t?
Why is the same situation frowned upon when the newspaper is replaced with a cellphone?
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5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media” is an article shared by Kylie. One reason provided by this article related to parents reducing their worrisome states caused by social media include “It can offer a sense of belonging”. Youth feel more connected and less isolated by talking to peers online. Another reason offered by this article was “It helps them express themselves”.  Youth are free to upload anything they create online since it is easy. Users are able to hide their identity which allows students to express themselves without anyone knowing it is them. I have multiple friends who have Instagram pages showcasing their art, music, make-up, photography, etc… under usernames where followers will not find out the person’s identity. 

5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually Be Good for your Child”first point about social media allowing on to “keep up with friends”, is a point which hits home> Being away from home, I often can see what my friends are up to without talking to them every single day. I can see if my best friend actually went on her trip once she posts a Snapchat story or I can see my other friend doing well at golf at the university they are attending.

The Verdict

Overall, social media is all about balance. Youth are going to have social media accounts. I may not be a parent, but I do know I would rather know about my children’s social media activity than to be in the dust with it. Ultimately, with this debate, I side with Lauren. I do see social media as a means for ruining childhood, it may be a bias opinion since I didn’t have social media until I was 15 and technology was not a big part of my childhood (ask my parents, they will defend me if you don’t believe me). But then that can be argued I am trying to image childhood the way I experienced it. New flash Jayden, things change. It was a great debate with strong arguments from both sides. 

Now here’s some questions I have for you to ponder.

  • How old were you when you created social media accounts? 
  • Do you document everything? Or do you live in the moment?
  • Is it better to experience a concert being a cellphone trying not to be too shaky or jumping around from the energy in the building? 
  • Do you ever go onto social media and still feel alone? Or do you feel like you belong? 

Here are some other articles interesting to this topic but did not fit in with the topics I covered in this post! I highly recommend reading them if you are interested! 

May the Force Be With You… Or Not

Warning: I have NEVER seen Star Wars a day in my life. All I know about Star Wars is the line “May the Force Be With You”. Star Wars has nothing to do with this post, other than this week’s debate is “Technology is a force for equity in society” and the word force is in it. It’s probably not as clever as I thought it was. This week our debaters were Ryan who was on the agree with side and Kaytlyn who was on the disagree side.

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So what is equity?

At first, I was confused about what exactly this topic was about. I had a general idea throughout the entire debate but it was not until someone in our class (I think Sydney) shared a good depiction of what equity it. I could try to explain the diagram but I do not believe I would do it justice so here is the link to the diagram.  h


Ryan’s Video

Our class was somewhat quiet during this debate but we were still able to draw come arguments on why technology is a force for equity  in society (which branched off of ideas in Ryan’s video) including:

  • Allows youth to have a voice
    • Youth are able to voice their opinions online
  • Refugee camps
    • Technology is used to educate students in refugee camps
  • Students with disabilities
    • Technology is able to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.
      • For instance, for those who are unable to speak, they can use technology to say what they want to say.
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Ryan also was able to provide insight into this topic in his video including ideas such as:

Dell Technologies also sheds light into the topic. The company offers programs to areas of the world which are not able to afford education and/or technology for their youth. By using technology, the company hopes to create new opportunities for youth. The goal is to “give a child living in a remote village access to the same information as someone living in the most affluent surroundings,”. So far, 2.6 million kids have been given this opportunity though Dell by using technology.

Technology can empower children in developing countries – if it’s done right” branches off of the article above. One key point from this article I thought related very well to this debate is an idea from an Epic Group. A representative from the group, Duncan Clark was mentioned in the article saying “he believes that mobile technology has produced a ‘renaissance of reading and writing’ among young people across the world,”. If technology is assisting children in developing regions learn to read and write, it would create equity as they would be learning skills similar to children in developed regions. 


Kaytlyn’s Video

Kaytlyn argued this side of the argument but before we dive into her video and readings, let’s dive into our class discussion first. Thoughts and ideas formed in the discussion include: 

  • Accessibility to technology
    • Some may not have access to technology and if they do, they may not have the means to use it such as no data or wifi
  • Who is getting a voice?
    • Those who have access to technology have the voice
      • Raises the question, who is being marginalized?
  • Is technology equality more important than you know, social rights equality?
    • Techno-colonialism is imposing what is success
  • Financial abilities 
    • Some can afford technology while some cannot 
Should technology be part of one’s cost of living?
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Kaytlyn’s video also covered more points relating to her side of the debate. Points included are:

  • Digital Divide
    • Those who have access to technology to those who do not
      • Rural and low-income students are affected by this
        • Ex: no access to public libraries, no strong internet connection
  • Civil Rights Issue of the 21stCentury
    • Students in wealthier areas have access to educational opportunities while students away from this area are not
      • Ex: look at who are offered AP classes
        • For instance, I attended a school where no AP classes were offered, but just a little further up the highway, about a 20-minute drive, the neighbouring high school had several AP classes. They were a city school and we were more rural, see the difference? 

Schools Tap Secret Spectrum To Beam Free Internet to Students” discusses a school which has set up an internet tower where the school enables all students to have access to the internet at home. This is like the fence diagram I mentioned above, what happens? In this situation, the fence is simply removed. But with everything good, there has to be something bad. The price. A set up like this is quite pricey thus limiting who is able to offer their students such great support.

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Ted Talk Time. Mark Barnett’sTed Talk “Everyone is a Maker, but not everyone has access” opens up by discussing students who are reading textbooks which are 10 years old even though they have the most current information right in their pockets, in their cellphones. He then goes on to explain a Maker Space camp he held, moving into the Maker Movement. While Barnett held very valid points why such spaces were good, he also mentioned “some schools do not understand the power of teaching through projects like this,”. This really caught my attention. While technology being a force of equity in a society may be seen as impossible because of financial situations and accessibility. Another factor weighing in to why it is not a force, may be because people have ideas of what should or should not be taught or used in the classroom. If schools avoid areas like maker spaces, they are only giving students a limited range of learning opportunities. 

The Verdict

I am still not overly sure what this topic was to mean. Maybe it’s due to the lack of education I have in the field of education or maybe it’s just a difficult topic. Ultimately the side I chose to end this debate is to disagree that technology is a force of equity in society.

Thanks for reading,

  • Miss. Lang

The 3-Dimensional Debate

This week in EDTC 400, we explored the topic of whether or not cellphones should be used in the classroom. For the first time ever, we had a three-way debate thus this posts name “The 3-Dimensional Debate” – because the debate has 3 dimensions. Kendall picked the side of cell phones should ALWAYS be banned in the classroom. Cody argued the side of NEVER  banned. And Tiana argued cell phones should ONLY be allowed in high school. While I know this debate has been an ongoing debate for teachers, I would mention that yes: I was on my phone during classes in high school and I still go on my phone in university lectures. It’s not that I am not paying attention but I don’t find the need to give the teacher my full attention when they are repeating announcements over and over again or going over examples of problems which I never struggled with. I had my opinion on this topic decided even before the debate, and my decision has not changed. Keep reading to see which I side I took for this week’s debate!

Now let’s dive into this 3-dimensional debate!
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Kendall’s Video

With the argument, cellphones should always be used in the classroom, our class discussion came up with various points such as:

  • Cellphones are disrespectful to use in the classroom
  • Cellphones do not have to be attached to us 24/7
  • Can be used for cheating and plagiarism
    • I googled “ways students use cellphone to cheat” and was met with around 691,000,000 results. Crazy, right!? With this amount of search results, it does justify why cellphones should never be used in the classroom. I read one article about “creative” ways to cheat and I was definitely appalled. Check it out for yourself! 
  • Notifications received can become disruptive
  • Not enough storage on the phone for what the teacher may expect of students thus limited students
  • Cellphones create a lack of face to face conversations instead going to the idea of online playdates

These are all valid points. In addition, Kendall provided us with articles to further justify her argument. The first article I explored at Kendall’s recommendation was, “Distracting, Disrespectful Side to Cell Phones in Class,”.  The article raises concern about students becoming attached to their cellphones to a point where they become “restless” if they cannot be on their phones which distracts students from learning. This brief article also includes an experienced where two groups were given a quiz, group one had cellphones and group two did not. Can you guess which group did better on the quiz? You probably guessed right, the group WITHOUT the cellphones did do better on the quiz. 

Students have ditched writing notes on rulers to cheat and now are using their cellphones
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Another article focusing on this topic, “The Disadvantages of Mobile Phones in Schools” raises some concerns about using cellphones in education. Points included in this include:

  • Cheating
  • Cyberbullying
    • One sentence in this section really concerned me, “Students have used their phones to embarrass their peers or teachers,”. I was shocked about the teacher part because never, in a million years, would I have ever thought of doing that to one of my teachers. Why do students do this? Do they cyberbully because it makes them feel powerful? Either way, it is not good. 
      • Read the story of Amanda Todd here


Cody’s Video

Now we move on to the “never” banned side of the debate. Points brought up in our class debate included:

  • students can have their cellphones in the classroom but must place them face down on their desks or in a cellphone holder 
    • Here are some examples of cellphone holders (I really like the ones that allow students to charge their phones) 
  • Online communities such as SeeSaw and Google Classroom are easily accessible via mobile device
  • A class would no longer have to wait on laptops
  • Students could easily research questions they have about a topic 

The first article I read which Cody provided our class with was “Cell Phones in the Classroom: Learning Tool or Distraction. This article gave facts such as one that shocked me being “students check their cell phones in the classroom more than 11 times a day”. I was surprised this number was so LOW. I was expected this to be higher but the fact did not specific the age group or rules in the classroom. This article focused mostly on the positive aspects of using cellphones in the classroom including:

  • “Incorporating digital platforms into lessons” 
  • “Supplementing lessons with digital materials”
    • This translates to teachers being able to “include videos, new stories, online discussion groups, and more,” into their lessons.

The second article I read related to this topic was “A Blanket Ban on Cellphones in Class Would Not Be Smart”. A blanket ban is not allowing cellphone AT ALL in the school. While some schools have claimed to success for their students by using such method, there are worries about why cellphones should not be banned such as:

  • Students should learn self-control
    • Here the question arises: If students are not taught from a younger age when the right and wrong time to use their cellphone is via self-control, who will instill such values? Workplaces do not take away phones.” if you are on your cellphone too much you have a possibility of losing your job!
  • Cellphones cans be used efficiently in the classroom
    • Collaboration, communication, taking pictures of notes (that’s what my camera roll is full of between the months of September to April), accessible calendars and so much more
  • Teachers can set cellphone restrictions in their classrooms if they find cellphones are too distracting for the students 
Collaboration can now be done easily on cellphones if they are used in the classroom
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Tiana’s Video

For the last dimension of this argument, Tiana argued the side in which cellphones should only be allowed in high schools. By now I’m assuming you’ve caught onto the drill so once again, here are some arguments for this side of the debate brought to you by the EDTC400 crew:

  • Physical health – cellphones emit a carcinogen which young children are at risk of due the development years
  • Overuse and misuse
    • Can affect one’s mental health such as causing anxiety and depression
  • Cellphones teach children to be more dependent on them, the younger they are exposed to them
  • Preparation for adulthood
    • Avoid technology all together will not prepare students for the “real world”
  • Mobile etiquette and safety cannot be taught if they are banned 
  • Cellphones are not banned in the workplace so why would they be banned in schools? 

Adventures with Cell Phones”, this article raises points very similar to articles recommended by Cody. To avoid repetition, I will not repeat the same points as above. But I strongly urge you to read this article as it is very interesting and includes a list of educational activities to use in the classroom. 

Can using cellphones in the classroom affect the fine motor skills development of younger students?
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With this side of the argument, I looked up the physical development of children. I found children are still developing their fine motor skills when they enter school. At 4-5 years of age (around Kindergarten) children are increasing their artistic ability and are “able to draw simple stick figures and copy shapes such as circles, squares and large letters,”.  By the ages of 5-7 years old, children are starting to write letters and numbers. They are becoming more skilled with writing utensils. If we are giving elementary students cellphones in class instead of working on these fine motor skills usually accompanied by the traditional pencil-paper method, will children not have fully developed fine motor skills at the expected times? 

The Verdict

This three-dimensional post has now come to an end. While each debate participant gave very valid points to each side of their arguments, I am sticking with my side. I started on the side of which cellphones should only be allowed in high schools and I ended with that decision. I do not believe cellphones should be banned from schools because my cellphone is a huge help in my education such as being a calculator, a calendar, a note-taker, a way to contact peers and teachers and so much more. However, I do believe cellphones should only be allowed for certain ages of students – that being high school students (or grades 7-12). By this stage, students have developed the idea of what right and wrong is and will be able to decipher when the right and wrong time to use a cellphone in a class with a teacher sometimes having to intervene if the cellphones become a distraction. 

Thanks for reading 

  • Miss. Lang