Personal Snapshots of Educational Technology

My personal understanding of educational technology is best examined by taking what I know now and looking back at snapshots of my educational past to see how technology has evolved and grown.

Snapshot #1: Elementary School – All the Right Type

When I think back to elementary school and the technology we accessed, my mind immediately goes to the computer classroom where we would “play” the typing game All the Right Type. Early on, my friends and I would spend our time constantly replaying the first level, trying to see how high of a words per minute score we could achieve. Even know I can remember that first line:

Photo Credit: <https://www.esd401.org/uploaded/Typing_Agent_Teacher_Guide.pdf&gt;

My school was certainly not alone in these teachings. As Michael Molenda notes: “In the mid-1990’s, student use was still rather mundane, often limited to a few hours per week of drill programs.” While that may not have been the best use of our time, it did develop typing/computing skills that have carried forward to this day. When observing my students now, so many of them use “hunt and peck” because they have little experience placing their hands in the correct spots and because they communicate by typing on their phones and they could do that infinitely faster than I could.

Snapshot #2 High School – Overhead Projectors

I graduated high school in 2002 and the main technology aspect of my time was the use of overhead projectors and writing notes down over and over and over. Memorization and regurgitation was a heavy emphasis at that time, the constant cycle of writing notes until your hand was sore, memorizing those facts for the test and forgetting them as soon as the test was over. This was certainly not the best way to learn and thankfully most people have advanced past this method of teaching.

Snapshot #3 Teaching Now – iPhones

All of these technological innovations (which were certainly all amazing for their time) have led us to the world we live in now as educators, where nearly every student has a phone in their pocket that gives access to more knowledge than we could ever have. The ease and speed with which smart devices can deliver answers makes me question what is truly important for us to be teaching to our students. Should we teach solving equations if PhotoMath will instantly solve the entire equation? Is there any facts worth memorizing for a test if they can always be accessed on Google? At the same time, as technology advances, it can be seen as perhaps more important than necessary. Neil Postman states: “technology tends to become mythic; that is, perceived as part of the natural order of things, and therefore tends to take more control of our lives than is good for us.” These questions are not just for individual teachers to consider, but foundation shaking questions that could change the entire education landscape.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.

Until next time,

Kyle Ottenbreit

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Summary of Learning Explanation!

Greetings and Salutations!

For my final blog post for EC&I 832, I have decided to briefly explain the rationale behind my summary of learning (located below).  My goal was to create something fun, where I could illustrate what I have learned while also making the audience laugh.

After much deliberation, I decided to revisit a classic Animaniacs staple, which was Good Idea/Bad Idea. I used Powtoon to create a short video highlighting the most important tenets of Digital Citizenship.

After being presented with each scenario there will be both a Good Idea for solving the problem, and a Bad Idea as well.  I’m happy with how it turned out and I hope you enjoy!

 

 

Personal Media Examination

Personal Strategy:

My personal strategy for analyzing information is to examine both sides of the “truth”. If a major American political story happens, I head to both CNN and Fox News to examine the spin from both sides of the political spectrum. In fact, I believe that is important to read several versions of the same story as it allows you to get a first-hand look at how the truth can be manipulated.


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Average Day Media Consumption:

On an average day, I consume the majority of my information and news from Twitter. I follow approximately 225 accounts that are focused around my personal interests (sports, wrestling, pop culture, local and national news). If I were to estimate, I would say that I check Twitter 40-50 times a day. I try to read the tweets in a chronological order as I do not like to feeling that I am missing out on any news. I agree that this level of checking in may be excessive and I can certainly see how my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has taken hold.

Facebook:

These last few months have not been very kind to Facebook, and it is very hard to be sympathetic as it is pretty much all their own doing.

Ignoring for a moment the latest Facebook Cambridge scandal, I simply have run out of patience for the hate and vitriol spewed in the comments section of every single Leader Post or CBC Story. No one has the mental capacity for dialogue anymore, instead people dig into their entrenched positions and hurl hateful insults back and forth.

I often wonder why I have not deleted my Facebook account, but the main reason to hold on is that I love receiving the Memory notifications to see pictures of my kids when they were just babies. But those memories are only a brief respite and I predict Facebook will continue to take a major slide.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below!

The Evolution of Literacy

In year’s past, when I was in high school, literacy was defined as being to read and write. The Internet was just in the infancy of its popularity and was in no way consumed the way it is now. Furthermore, we had no idea what “fake news” was and instead we accepted what the news told us as truth.

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However, much has changed since then. Today’s students are always connected to the Internet, their online presence is simply an extension of their “real” lives. As well, the way news is consumed has changed a great deal as well so students can no longer accept what they see/hear as truth. Therefore, being literate has now changed a great deal. In addition to simply being able to read and write, students must be digital and media literate as well.

David Rosen, in his article, describes digital literacy as something that “involves reading widely, keeping informed, knowing when and how to be critical and when to embrace new information, new ideas.” The idea of critical thinking is vitally important to digital literacy and literacy as a whole. As teachers we must move past the idea of thinking that critical thinking is something that can be taught in two lessons and instead understand it must be the basis for all learning.

If we cannot teach our students how to understand whether something is real or fake, and how to determine the bias, then what are we doing?

Mudita Kundra furthers this point in the same article when she states “for students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally – articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instructions that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory.”

A further extension of digital literacy is the idea of becoming media literate. The following Common Sense Media article describes media literacy as “Media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending. Kids take in a huge amount of information from a wide array of sources, far beyond the traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines) of most parents’ youth.” Furthermore, the article continues on to say “The digital age has made it easy for anyone to create media. We don’t always know who created something, why they made it, and whether it’s credible. This makes media literacy tricky to learn and teach. Nonetheless, media literacy is an essential skill in the digital age.”

As you can see, the need for reliable and effective literacy programs are vitally important. The consumption of media is continually evolving, and if we can continue to grow our students into critical thinkers, then we will have done all we can for them.

To Be(er) or not to Be(er)

Digital citizenship continues to be an issue of major importance. And as we learned from this week’s chat with Patrick Maze, the issues surrounding digital citizenship extend beyond students and teachers. One of the issues Patrick discussed was the potential backlash that can be raised by parents if they find a picture on social media that they deem to be offensive. Considering the uproar that was raised surrounding the beer discussion, I decided to focus my blog post around this idea.

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Elizabeth Thoman states in her article, “from the clock radio that wakes us up in the morning until we fall asleep watching the late night talk show, we are exposed to hundreds – even thousands – of images and ideas not only from television but also from websites, movies, talk radio, magazine covers, e-mail, video games, music, cell phone messages, billboards – and more. Media no longer just shape our culture.. they ARE our culture.”

If we can agree that the media is our culture (and I do agree), then is seeing a picture of someone holding a beer on Facebook really that much different than seeing that happen in real life? And since we are adults, I see no issue with a teacher enjoying an adult beverage in a responsible manner.

Furthermore, Thoman goes on to say “Teens today have no memory of life without television; kindergarteners know only a world with cell phones, laptops, instant messaging and movies on DVD. To ignore the media-rich environment they bring with them to school is to shortchange them for life.” Because our students are so comfortable with technology, the interactions online feel as common and natural as “real life” interactions that we grew up with. Therefore, we would be doing a disservice to our students to disallow the use of technology in their assignments and daily lives.

Now if we are to allow students to engage this further access to technology in the classroom, we need to do our part to make sure they are digitally literate and prepared. Mudita Kundra states: “For students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally—articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instruction that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory.”

To wrap up these thoughts, digital citizenship certainly has a place in the classrooms, not as a one-off but as an ongoing thought process.

As the knowledge of students, teachers, and parents continues to grow, we hopefully can move past the stigma of seeing a picture on social media and understand social media is now just an extension of our real lives.

Any thoughts that you have on the subject I would love to hear.

Social Media during a School Shooting

After finishing the readings, I prepared to write a standard blog post responding to the ideas of digital identity. However, following the most recent (and tragic) school shooting in Florida, I decided to talk about the use of Social Media in a school shooting and how it relates to digital identity.

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As you can see from the above photo, when faced with a moment of extreme stress and panic, students relied on what they are most comfortable with, Social Media. As David Buckingham states in his article, “children are engaging with these media not as technologies, but as cultural forms.”

When we practice lockdown situations at our school, we stress to students the importance of remaining off their devices. The main logic being that if 900 students are suddenly calling loved ones at the same time, it could interfere with phone lines and police communication with the school. I agree that this is a valid reason, however, if ever faced with an actual school shooter rather than a drill, I believe it would be much more difficult to keep students off of their phones.

One interesting taken by some of the students was to post videos of the shooter on their Snapchat Stories using the SnapMap feature. As the following article explains, this could have both positive and negative consequences. Positively, the videos could be used by the police to help track the shooter’s location inside a school, but negatively “in a live shooting situation, the possible consequences are deadly… without realizing, you could be broadcasting your location and making yourself more vulnerable in this situation.”

The fallout from this tragedy is still unfolding and there remains a great deal to be learned about the use of social media during a school shooting. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the issue.

Major Project Update: Exclusive Snapchat Focus

The best decision I made in the past week was to log in to the Zoom Room ten minutes before class began. Up to this point, I had imagined the major project as an integration piece, using Snapchat as a teaching tool and explaining the process. But after listening to fellow students and receiving confirmation from Alec, I know understand this process to be incorrect. Instead of integration, this assignment is to focus on a critical view of Snapchat, and how the digital citizenship elements relate.

How we can help develop critical thinkers regarding digital citizenship?

Photo Credit: Austin Community College Flickr via Compfight cc

Mike Ribble highlights nine elements of digital citizenship and my goal is to focus on a few of these themes and how they relate to my upcoming major project.

Digital Communication: Ribble explains “the expanding digital communication options have changed because people are able to keep in constant communication with anyone else.” In high schools, Snapchat has become the primary method for communication between students. Rather than trying to (unsuccessfully) attempt to stop this, I instead want to learn from the students about why this method of communication is so appealing to them.

Digital Etiquette: Ribble explains “many people feel uncomfortable talking to others about their digital etiquette. Often rules and regulations are created or the technology is simply banned to stop inappropriate use.” If students engagement with Snapchat is to continue to grow, then students must be taught the proper way to interact with others.

Digital Law: Ribble explains “users need to understand that stealing or causing damage to other people’s work, identity, or property online is a crime. There are certain rules of society that users need to be aware in an ethical society.” Unfortunately, child pornography and sexting have become major issues with Snapchat. Despite the uncomfortable nature of this discussion, students must be made aware of the potential dangers and permanence of this issue.

Digital Health and Wellness: Ribble explains “beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction. Users need to be taught that there are inherent dangers of technology.” Regarding Digital Health, my focus will centre on the idea of Snapchat streaks. I want to learn why these are so important to my students and what if anything can be done to move past this. When a 17 year old student states: “when you lose the streak, you lose the friendship”, you know this is a problem that must be dealt with.

So what does this all mean for the project?

My goal is to create a resource/activity package for my students regarding Snapchat. Upon completion of this package, it is my hope that the students will not quit using the app, but instead will be more aware and critical of the information they are receiving and transmitting through Snapchat. The presentation of my project will focus on the package I have created, as well as student testimonials illustrating their newfound critical thinking regarding their favourite app.