2016 Issues Still Problematic Today?

Muzaffar, S. (2016, December 28). Opinion | what good is declaring broadband a “basic service” without regulating retail prices?: Opinion | CBC news. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/broadband-basic-service-1.3913627

Summary: The opinion article discusses the 2016 Canadian legislation around the basic right to broadband as simply a target and not a requirement for Canadian citizens. The author also mentions the government’s inability to set price regulations for telecommunication services. The article further describes the 2016 climate of Canada being anti-immigrant and having poor previous records of supporting Indigenous communities. There are further comments about access needing proper infrastructure, which the author notes does not exist.

Evaluation: The author of the opinion piece is the founder of TechGirls Canada (TGC) and has various author qualifications in the field she is discussing, highlighting her ethos to speak on the matter. This article openly describes itself as an opinion piece, meaning their statements are biased. The author is upset by the lack of regulations surrounding the 2016 policy. However, their opinions are still relevant today due to the telecommunication companies’ monopoly over Canada. The author had little trust before writing this piece, which made their opinions more negative.

Mathematically Considering the Digital Divide

Howard, P. N., Busch, L., & Sheets, P. (2010). Comparing digital divides: Internet access and Social Inequality in Canada and the United States. Canadian Journal of Communication, 35(1), 109–128. https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.2010v35n1a2192

Summary: The research utilizes Gini coefficients to demonstrate how Canada has made drastic changes in closing the Digital Divide, whereas the gap is still wide in the USA. They argue that Canada’s creation of culturally relevant content is partly the reason for the closing gap. The article further offers historical context relevant to Canadian and American telecommunications and information about previous studies that measured the Digital Divide.

Evaluation: The article is mostly fun of aging data because it was published in 2010. While much of the historical context about the Digital Divide between the two countries is accurate, the article must present more evidence to support that Canada is closing the gap. As of 2024, the programs mentioned in the article are few and far. Many initiatives are no longer happening or have been replaced. However, suppose you are someone who enjoys looking at graphs and figures. In that case, this may be an interesting read from an economic and mathematical perspective.

Food or Wifi?

OperationMaple. (2014, July 30). Starving for the internet. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-osAq93jdBg&t=15s

Summary: In today’s climate, it has become a fundamental human right to access the internet. Everything we need to do must happen online. Applying for a job? Well, that happens online. If you do not have a job, you may not have the funds to have Wi-Fi access to apply for one. People are having to choose between having the internet and having food. The video discusses a campaign by Acorn Canada to help make the internet more affordable to those who currently cannot afford it.

Evaluation: The nonprofit organization created the video, providing a biased opinion. It was also older, from nine years ago. However, the problem persists today in 2024. There is still a monopoly on services provided in Canada and limited competition. It is reminiscent of the few airplane companies on Canadian soil. No competition means they can charge insane fees, and people are left with nothing to do but pay them.

Things I Wish I Knew about Social Media

Social Media isn’t ruining childhood; it simply contributes to some of the negative (or positive) experiences children face. Just as people were scared of the new type of lightbulb when it was invented, society fears Social Media. I tried to keep an open mind

(StableDiffusionXL, 2024)

during my classmates’ debates. Still, as someone who found solace in Social Media as a child, I can’t find common ground with those who say it is ruining childhood. I ended up watching The Social Dilemma, and while it was heavily swayed in favour of Social Media is a negative, one comment made near the beginning was that “There’s no one bad guy.” Many ills in the world contribute to the trauma of our youth, as our debaters mentioned many times. All of these factors add to the ruin of childhood. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be around today if it weren’t for Social Media and all the people who helped me deal with the trauma of my childhood. School and the people in them were what ruined my childhood and that of many others. Did I find bullies online? Sure! But, I found the emotional pain inflicted by my real-life bullies far outweighed those online. Candice Odgers, on Open to Debate, further supports the point that Social Media has little bearing on the mental health of children – “Social Media use does not predict mental health problems.” There are a plethora of issues that contribute to the mental health of our youth; Social Media may only be a small portion of that. Like me, children use online media to seek help and converse.

Living abroad offers me a different perspective on Social Media and online

(StableDiffusionXL, 2024)

communications. While some may argue that communication platforms do not constitute Social Media, they often involve sharing parts of life. My everyday go-to, WeChat, uses Moments, and WhatsApp has picture-based statuses that can be saved for others to view. This medium is essential for connecting my learners to their old friends and family in their home countries and friends who leave and change to new schools in new countries. We also use Social Media to collaborate with other IB schools worldwide (and teachers) to improve our practice to reach our personal bests.

The Social Dilemma mentions technology addiction, an issue with Social Media. It can be addictive in the same way slamming back bags of chips and energy drinks can be. This is where adults in our lives need to step in and teach moderation. Children will parrot what others are doing and need to see healthy habits/balance to thrive in tech spaces or healthy diets. The documentary further talks about the art of manipulation being at the center of controlling this addiction. However, as someone who gave a lecture about rhetoric in a previous Ed course, I know this is the route we take in all parts of life to get what we want, aside from being online. Manipulation has been around since the existence of communication. We cannot solely hate Social Media for manipulative practices when everything and everyone does the same. Social Media is indeed a drug, as The Social Dilemma states. Still, just with all other drugs, we choose to use it and may need help to control the usage or to stop using it. Parents and teachers are the ones who can help when they see children getting addicted, but it means tuning in more to our learners and children. I can see my daughter developing some addictions, but do I think that is ruining her childhood? No, I don’t.

In thinking positively about Social Media, I consider all of the short-form doses of learning that have helped me improve small areas in life that also reach children. As an older adult, I think of Sidney Raz’s short series “Things I Wish I Knew in my Thirties,” which teaches me simple tips and tricks. I have been using so many simple tools all my life that he educates me on as a fellow person in their thirties. Children have access to

(StableDiffusionXL, 2024)

all kinds of information as well. This American Academy of Pediatrics article speaks to the enhanced education students can receive from online communication tools. My daughter follows some Minecraft users online who have taught her all about rocks and minerals in English. Her second language is expanded daily thanks to her online access (and Bluey). The Caloia (2022) article focuses on Gen Z struggling with focus and attention. Still, it offers solutions like disengaging from Social Media to focus on routine. Places like Social Media help students note that they may have different attention spans than others and things they can do to help. Unplugging from Social Media will not somehow get me nor my daughter to make the bed in the morning.

Tech is Part of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

During my teaching career in China, I worked for two schools with vastly different opinions on technology in the classroom. My previous school had a 70/30 policy, which instructed teachers only to utilize technology 30% of the time. This wasn’t easy when many materials were not available in paper form, and we had to adhere to strict printer budgets. The principals militantly monitored the hallways multiple times daily to ensure we were off technology. Students were becoming more and more technology illiterate

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

at school and unethical when it came to using AI technology. Using the technology felt more like a hindrance rather than an enhancement. My current school is technology-positive, especially as they are working towards becoming a fully UDL school. Students are taught from grade 1 how to interact with iPads until grade 5, where they learn more about using Apple computers. Students respect technology and are much more willing to experiment with new apps and platforms because they were taught to play with unfamiliar technology from a young age. Having these two experiences helps me straddle the fence regarding the idea that technology can enhance education.

Liu et al. (2020) make a good point while researching the effects of VR in the classroom: VR creates an immersive experience that generates more student interest. Technology opens doors for students to explore spaces beyond their current existence. This year, I utilized a virtual tour experience of Greenwood to help students understand Black Wall Street and what happened during the Tulsa Massacre to contextualize the history presented in the TV show Watchmen, produced by Damon Lindelof. Having students engaged with the real history, they better understood the motivations of Angela Abar and Will Reeves to seek revenge and the suffering they faced based on past traumas.

Cellphones are often a point of contention for teachers regarding what kind of Ed tech

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

should be allowed in the classroom. While Furió et al.’s (2015) research did not exclusively conclude that using technology allowed students to learn more effectively, they did find that students using their cell phones were more likely to continue learning in their free time. As a mother to a 7-year-old, I can also attest to this. While my daughter will work in your home study textbook, she is much more willing to reach for IXL and Khan Academy Kids at any time. They are a great road trip distraction! Personally, I allow cell phones in my classroom. I understand that students get distracted, but even I do some scrolling during my two-hour lecture to have a brain break when I need one. It is important that a little distraction may offer our learners personal brain breaks as well; we must remain vigilant in helping them remember to rejoin the lesson when they are ready.

This week’s opposition side to the debate connects with the debate I am currently researching regarding technology and equity. The Harris et al. (2016) article shared by the affirmative side references some points that support my debate topic that technology has not led to a more equitable society, mentioning that teachers who can use 1:1 technology are at an advantage. It was studied in the article that 1:1 technology certainly motivates learners and quickens the process of differentiation, but that is only a reality for those who have this type of technology. My international school in China certainly does; the Catholic school in Regina I was at had faulty and aged technology at best, creating a further digital divide amongst learners of the same age. However, sticking to the question, there is clear evidence through the study’s findings that this type of tech initiative can be quickly successful with the right kind of funding in place. To further consider how much technology can enhance, we must consider Warschauer et al.’s (2010) considerations of gender and the realm of technology. Most people going into the computer science field are men, and women are often bullied out of the field. This is something that more women are discussing; for example, the Blizzard employee who faced so much harassment that she is suing the company. With women and minority groups individuals being left out of developing technology, the creations are often geared toward white male audiences. Without a female voice participating in creation, how can we enhance the knowledge gains of women and minorities?

Technology in the classroom raises questions about modernity and traditionalism and how teachers navigate the changing classroom landscape. Kris Alexander’s (2023) TED Talk was interesting, but it made me question if technology enhances education. There is all this fun technology, like learning from Twitch streamers. Still, teachers are not

(StableDiffusionXL, 2024)

using this type of technology in the classroom. Many basic-style online platforms are usually found in the school to assist or replace recording tools and research methods. However, do these really enhance learning? In all cases, no. In a world where learners are bombarded with different and flashy tech, low-tech options only sometimes reach learners. Therefore, they may not reap the benefits of the technology switch-up. It becomes more important to include traditional means in the classroom to keep learning from becoming a trivial routine but instead being something students look forward to each day. Purcell et al. (2013) speak to my English teacher’s heart. I made the switch to paper-based writing this year to avoid the use of AI in the classroom. While students were not excited about the switch, the improvements in writing were tenfold. My most prevalent complaint matches the teachers in the article because my students also used a great deal of informal online writing. I spent two weeks this past academic year with grades 8 – 11 reviewing the formal writing basics to combat some informal writing practices.

There is no way I will say no to tech in my classroom. However, I still need to navigate the often rocky landscape of technology, and I unquestioningly embrace it at times. Who is going to join me?

Canadian Digital Divide – Tech and Inequality

Turner, J. (2023, March 14). Bridging the gap: Unraveling the digital divide. Busrides. https://busrides-trajetsenbus.csps-efpc.gc.ca/en/ep-108-en

Summary: “The digital divide refers to the gap between individuals or communities that have access to modern information and communication technologies (ICT) and those that do not.” (Turner, 2023). The article titled “Bridging the Gap: Unraveling the Digital Divide“ by Joshua Turner in 2023 addresses the digital divide global issue that connects access to the internet and low incomes, which in turn perpetuates the digital divide. Four common themes connected to his issue are lack of access to fast internet, limited technology training, short life of devices, and language barriers (Turner, 2023). The digital divide impacts Canadians, especially those in rural areas. The article offers four future-oriented solutions for Canadians: increasing technology access, offering training, supporting equitable policy, and investing in the private sector.

Evaluation: The article is connected to the Government of Canada website. It is posted in the Trending Technology blog space. The information on the blog space offers the amount of time it takes to read the article, which is 5 minutes. It was posted nine months ago, which means the information is relevant to today’s social climate. There are linked courses at the end of the blog that encourage users to become more digitally literate, helping to mitigate the digital divide. Turner also offers helpful secondary resources for continued research into the global issue. However, upon clicking Turner’s name at the end of the article, only other articles he has written are associated, and there is no biographical information.

Reflection: I believe the information in this article is relevant to my research on my debate topic, “Technology has not led to a more equitable society.” The article is related to my classmates’ climate, being related to Canada, as well as my experiences living in China. The digital divide perpetuates inequality in the world but is often portrayed as helping bridge the gap.

 

The Age of Surveillance

(StableDiffusionXL, 2024)

Today, a classmate (Savannah) shared a post linking to an article about the Age of IoT, also called The Age of Surveillance. It was an exciting take on the term coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 relating to supply and demand. Living in a society that fits the concept of The Age of Surveillance has been eye-opening regarding the give and take of technology advancements. The way I live in China is connected to technology and surveillance. I pay with my phone, book tickets, make reservations, contact friends, work, and more every day in China. Returning to Canada often feels like a culture shock when I don’t have access to technology and slightly more freedom from surveillance. I have learned that being a good citizen in China doesn’t worry me regarding surveillance. What do I have to hide? I like the convenience I can receive from my surveyed technology. It is the way the future is going.

Tech and the Digital Divide

Some food for thought (Questions posed by: “Bridging the Gap: Unraveling the Digital Divide,” Turner, 2023)

1. Who do you know that is impacted by the digital divide?

At the moment, I see two groups being impacted by the digital divide in my immediate space. First, people in my parent’s generation often need help keeping up with technology. Goodness, I remember being a young elementary school student and having to set up our family’s first desktop computer because it was beyond my parent’s understanding. In recent years, my parents have been forced to get more high-tech cell phones to communicate with me in China. They didn’t know how to download apps on their new phones, but I got them set up on WeChat last year when I came home after Covid restrictions were lifted in China. Those were four challenging years in China with minimal contact. While more older people in China can actively use their cell phones due to cellphone-based payment systems, it differs in Canada. I always appreciate places like the local library continuing to offer free classes on using basic technology to

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

try and bridge the gap. The second group I see impacted is students. One may think they are far ahead in their understanding of technology, but that is different. There were parts of the generation where most of the technology was already user-friendly and needed little understanding to make it work. I have middle and high school students who need to learn how to use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and how to operate proper searches on Google or academic databases. It is startling at times, but as I mentioned before, I was part of that generation that fiddled to figure things out and had to step up to help our parents who didn’t understand the new advancements.

2. How can you contribute to mitigating it?

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

For my parent’s generation, I always patiently jumped at the chance to help someone who wanted to learn technology. My coworkers of various ages at my current school wish to learn new things to stay relevant in the classroom. I helped run an AI PD this year and assisted parents in understanding how AI works when their learners use it. As for my students, I force them to go back to the basics in Word and PPT. They need to learn foundational skills to work in our current technology climate, no matter how late they are. The class has been stopped on multiple occasions as soon as I find students who need to learn basic commands or tools on their computers. It may be something small, but it is what I can do to make a change.

3. How can you improve your own digital skills?

Technology has evolved further with the implementation of AI in recent years. After starting my master’s program, I realized how much Edtech I didn’t know. I soak up all new technology information and bookmark links to always learn something new to bring into the classroom. I don’t shy away from learning new things, either. I need to be a YES woman if I want to improve!

‘Cause We Living in an AI World

Wake up…AI. Afternoon planning…AI. Evening grading…AI. 

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

I am a lucky lady because my school embraces the AI movement with positivity, embracing, and open arms. I have let AI consume much of my time these past two years, and I don’t want to go back. My current AI go-to tools are Perplexity, Magic School, Poe (because of China), and Omni (of course!) when I have a VPN. AI is excellent for generating starting ideas, guiding students’ questions, and ensuring things are UDL with Ludia. This year, I even ran a workshop with the tech department on how to craft prompts and build AI bots. You can check my bot, which is in progress, HERE! My school is fantastic because we started running AI pilot classes with grade 9 English, which was a total failure. However, we have an excellent sample of data to work with for refining the process going into the upcoming school year.

I connect with teachers and students at my school through old-school Microsoft email and Teams. I love Teams for accessible communication and resource sharing, as does my new principal. However, the rest of the staff still needs some training. Because I work at an IB school, my online platform for student work is ManageBac. It is a clunky piece of technology at best, but I have little choice. In terms of communicating with other IB teachers, I am in WeChat groups for my subject area and Facebook groups for resource sharing. My school offers Tech Bytes afternoon workshops during the school year to have more face-to-face communication while exploring emerging technology. This year, It has focused solely on AI and is working towards creating an AI policy.

Tara Winstead at Pexels

Within my classroom, I like to ensure that there are scannable QR codes for station activities, Magic School AI for students, Google Docs for collaborative work, and Canva for presentations. My students have been happier with my switch to Canva for PPTs because my old stuff was ugly and needed a “glow-up.” My students all use Mac computers, iPads, and cell phones in the classroom. There is no discouragement when it comes to using tech. Most international school students respect the tech rules, especially in tech-forward schools.

Anywho, if you want to do impromptu AI PD, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to chat.