Start the conversation…. Sharing Matters

 If you teach them how to share it’s more than fair!

This week the Great EdTech debate challenge fell to our team.   We represented the Disagree side of the debate which focused on: Openness and sharing in schools unfair to our kids.

If you are interested here’s our opening arguments.

As I first read through the questions, I wondered is it fair not to share?  Teaching in and of itself is sharing of knowledge.  Our goal as educators is to share our knowledge of a concept in a variety of ways that encourages deeper understanding in our students.  As Wiley and Green (2012) pointed out in Why Openness in Education, we even judge educators on their ability to share and impart understanding to students (para. 5 & 6).

So sharing is part of what we do as educators…. rather it’s the what, how and where we share that we really need to think about?  If you think back to when you were growing up, some of us perhaps, didn’t have to worry about the photo someone snapped at a gathering or comment that was shared.  Our networks were smaller.  Perhaps your embarrassing photo made the yearbook or a friend actually had the roll of film developed.  The chances of widespread distribution and repercussions were on a smaller scale.  Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun if the wrong person got a hold of a photo or some how continued to share things.  It wasn’t however on the same scale as social media provides today.  So keep in mind that many of us who are now parents didn’t grow up in a world with social media or cell phones (mobile phones came in bags and you could only use then in case of emergency because who could afford the cost per minute).

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Image from Meme Generator

 

Is the answer to attempt to remove technology from our lives and avoid any device that could capture our image so that facial recognition software can’t identify us?  I guess you can try but for the large majority of us it’s not practical; moreover, sticking our head in the proverbial sand won’t make the issue go away, but someone might make a nice meme out of it.

In my experience it’s about having the courage to step into the conversation with students and talk about what’s going on.  Is oversharing happening?  What type of images are being posted?  What if you just like or comment – does that make you part of it?  It also means that we need to model or attempt thoughtful digital citizenship the best we can.  This means that we need to know what engaged, thoughtful digital citizens do.  While we may not all have access to Digital Learning Consultants and I have to say thank-you to Thad, Kirk and Robert for their ongoing encouragement and support during my years as a teacher and consultant.  It makes a difference to have knowledgeable and reflective people to talk to about digital issues.  So as the Agree team mentioned during the debate, we live in the real world and ongoing to access to PD and support people may not always be possible; however, we do live in an age where there is ample helpful information online about digital citizenship and digital footprints. I first learned about the elements of Digital Citizenship on Mike Ribble’s website.

Mike Ribble Retweet.JPG

What about oversharing?  You know it’s going to happen and it’s like a digital tattoo.  It has the potential to fade but never really go away. How do you prevent it?  I think it begins with open communication with our children.  As educators and parents,  we have a great opportunity to talk about the pictures we take and how we share them.  When you snap that pic and post it to Facebook, do you talk to your child about where you are posting it?  Am I posting it publicly for everyone to see on my profile or am I sharing it with a select group of people in a secret Facebook group?  Think about the conversation potential that exists with our Pre-K and K teachers as they document and share student learning with parents.  I’ve seen our early learning teachers engage in thoughtful conversations about what they are sharing and who will see it.  As a parent, I really appreciate getting the updates of what my daughter is doing in class.  Plus hearing her voice as she explains it is priceless. Sharing matters.

Worried about oversharing?  It’s happening all around us and it may be impacting our lives more than we know.

 

On the flip side, I remember back to a time when I was co-teaching my Bio 30 class with a teacher of a grade 5 class in a different community.  We skyped everyday and each grade 12 was paired with a grade 5 student in the 1:1 learning project.  We talked often about the expectations and how we needed to be engaged digital citizens, yet a grade 5 overshared info – nothing earth shattering but enough that the Bio 30 student was concerned.  What it did do was generate a healthy discussion about what was appropriate to share in our wikispace discussions and how we can learn from the experience.  We were working in a safe private space, so it was a great learning opportunity for all of us.  One that will hopefully remind us all to think before we share.

So starting the conversation early will help engage students and teachers in thoughtfully sharing positive experiences to grow their digital footprint, which in turn helps model the practice to parents and family that may not have considered those aspects.  Kathy Cassidy shared in her video that yes what we share in social media is permanent but because of that it’s a great way to look back and see how much we have grown. She also talked about the value of modeling how to use social media and in doing so how we influence student’s understanding of the world and practice empathy.

 

Steven W. Anderson shared Meredith Stewart’s tweet, “If you aren’t controlling your footprint, others are.”  He encouraged readers to start building their brand – their digital identity.  You do this by sharing and creating positive online footprints, but as the Agree team pointed out – you need to watch out for bouncing.  When a photo that you have shared gets used for something else. As Anderson pointed out, not only do you have to actively build a positive identity you have to monitor it.  Alec Couros noted in our follow up conversation that just googling our names doesn’t truly include all of our digital footprint.  We need to consider the data that is tracked in all the apps that we use.

Alec discussed how facial recognition technology is now available and when he showed us how it worked with his own images, we realized just how many people there are out there that look just like him. (I mean exactly like him!  They in fact are using one of his photos as their profile picture).  We have to learn how to be aware of the footprints we are actively creating, as well as those that are being created without our consent.

Should all of this scare you as an educator away from sharing? or considering the sharing of student work?  It’s important to consider the positive impacts of sharing. Rather than only relying on standardized assessments to ensure academic standards are being met. Bence asked “what if learner work were shared on a wider level so that the work could speak for itself.  She shared examples of how being transparent with what’s happening in the classroom has added “another layer of authenticity to education” (para. 4). Learners have become more active participants in their own education especially when they know the audience is more than just the classroom.  As with any online venture in education, Bence encouraged educators to check with their schools and districts to ensure practices align with responsible use.

Here’s part of our closing arguments from Tuesday night – sharing matters and it’s important to teach our children how to share.

You are welcome to check out our team’s resource list.  We’ve selected a number of articles and guides to help educators grow their understanding of sharing.

These resources are a great place to start.

What will matter in the future as our Facebook babies grow up and realize just what their parents and teachers have shared?  I can only imagine where we will be when I think about how things have evolved in the first half of my teaching career… or even in the last 5 years for that matter.

What matters today is that we start the conversation. Hopefully if we start today and engaging in ongoing conversations about digital citizenship, we will all learn to pause before we post and think about the potential ripple effect.

Regardless of social media or old fashioned information sharing asking ourselves the following question will impact how we try to live our lives.

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Special thanks to Lisa and Haiming!  What a great team – glad to have had the chance to work with you!

As I’ve had a chance to read through other blog posts, these are a few that have stood out to me:

  • Jeremy B  explained we all need to engage in digital citizenship education.  He suggested introducing it to parents at meet the teacher nights as a way to engage parents.  He noted that it’s also about sharing the resources we have with parents.
  • Erin B shared her decision to share student work using Seesaw and how she shared expectations with parents and students.  It’s making the time to explicitly teach the students about digital citizenship and then apply it to their learning that truly makes a difference. Learning about digital citizenship in authentic situations truly makes a difference.
  • I really enjoyed Amy’s blog post.  In particular, she referenced a an article by Geddes  that questioned how quickly we post.  She pointed out that when we had to go to our computers, log in, find the photo, upload, add the comment and then post – that we were more thoughtful.  Has tech made it so easy that we’ve eliminated our thinking time?
  • Justine  – made a very interesting point – our digital footprints can change as our names do which build on the conversation started by Amy S.  I also agree that sharing a letter home with parents that invites them to participate and be aware of the social media use in a classroom is important.  If you remember Mark Prensky’s Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants articles, Justine shared a great way to think of the differences in ways that we use the internet as Digital visitors vs Digital Residents. She also shared this quick video.
    • Just listed to  Alec’s TED X Talk. A very thoughtful look at the value of understanding our digital identity and just how connected we are.  Lots of great ideas to think about here.
  • Tyler’s post Unfair? Nope.pointed out the value of helping students learn about digital citizenship and have the opportunity to practice it.  Plus he also shares some very helpful resources.
  • Luke’s post about “The More We Share, the More we Have” raises many thoughtful points about why we share what we do and the value included in it. You’ll also want to check out the oversharing video – well worth the watch.
  • Kelsie shared many great points but when she shared the Terms of Service – Didn’t read it website things got really interesting.

 

 

 

Tech-addict? Tech-Balanced? Is it really changing us or has it already?

Tech-addict? Tech-Balanced? Is it really changing us or has it already?

The Unhealthy habit? Are you aware of the choices you are making?

Tuesday also featured a lively debate on whether or not Technology is making our kids unhealthy…… is it making you unhealthy?

While Fitbits, health apps and Facebook groups may inspire us to build healthy habits, foster social connections and remind us to get moving, I can’t help but wonder just how much technology is affecting our lives.  Have you ever stopped to think how it’s shaping our daily habits and interactions?

wendy_brian_kidsIncluded with permission from © Eric Pickersgill
From Removed
Photographer, Eric Pickersgill, “has released a series of photos from everyday life with one minor adjustment: all electronic devices have been removed.” (Denicola, 2015, para. 3).
(You can view the series online at www.removed.social – it’s worth taking a look.  Is this how you want to be remembered?  What’s happening to our face to face connections?)

Thanks Eric Pickersgill for his suggestion to check out his TED Talk
Do Our Devices Divide Us?
He reflects on how it isn’t until we see ourselves with the devices
removed that the true impact hits us and has actually caused a change in behaviour.

I remember back to when I first started teaching in the fall of 1999 – cell phones, digital cameras and social media were not part of my daily habits.  The internet was alive and healthy in it’s information delivery form with interactive sharing restricted to the users that understood html, ftp and flash.  When I looked around my classroom the most distracting form of peer to peer interaction was whispering or the paper notes they quietly passed from one desk to another.  And when you ventured out into the halls at break or lunch, students were sitting next to each other talking.
25158194552_3a76a8b81cFlash forward to 2016 and when you walk down the halls of a school you will likely see students in close proximity to their cell phones.  Just think of how the mobile phone has evolved  – from the advent of texting to the immediacy of information – to students sitting next to one another staring at their phones and texting each other instead of talking.  Just to clarify this is not always the norm and I have to admit, you won’t find me far from my cell phone – it’s an integral part of how I document the interactions and stay connected to all of my schools no matter where I am in the pod. In fact, as a self admitted introvert, a device is a unique tool that connects me to selected social media connections when I want and in person it gives me a way to blend in.  Check out Why introverts love Social Media by Mack Collier for an interesting read especially for “Online extrovert[s], offline introvert[s]- it’s complicated.”

Photo Credit: BarnImages.com via Compfight cc

So we know technology has changed our lives, so much so that our brains even pick up on phantom vibrations. When’s the last time you thought your cell phone buzzed?  Did you need to check it?

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As Hatch (2011) noted while referencing Sherry Turkle, “naming technology as either good or bad will not solve the issue. “I’ve tried to get across that computers are not good or bad — they’re powerful…. I think we’re getting ourselves in a lot of trouble thinking there’s an Internet or a web that has an impact on children” (Hatch, 2011, p.4). It’s the daily habits and the way we choose to engage with technology that leaves room for our own creative interpretation – addictive or balanced.  It seems to be a common theme  – the search for Balance – using the tools around us, tech included, to help us lead a healthier life. Photo Credit: TEDxUIUC via Compfightcc

Facebook, Twitter or mobile devices for that matter don’t hurt people, it’s people that make choices on how they use the technology that truly impacts ourselves and others.

Just for a moment let’s agree that technology has the potential to connect us to many positive interactions and healthy choices in our lives. Now let’s pause and reflect on just how those devices have already shaped our lives and those of our children, so we can make informed choices not just rote, device guided interactions.
2977041097_920b2b3001Photo Credit: edmittance via Compfight cc

In the video, 5 Crazy Ways Social Media is Changing your Brain Right Now, Asap Science noted how increased device usage and instant feedback are decreasing the white matter in our brains and in fact rewiring our brains to crave that stimulation. In a 2014 Huff Post article, Lindsay Holmes explained “there is such a thing as technology addiction … [and] research from Swansea and Milan Universities also found that heavy Internet users suffered withdrawal similar to those experienced  by drug users when they went offline” (p.4).

Now if you’re like me you are probably saying, for sure that’s true but that’s definitely not me.  In Super Better, Jane McGonigal, noted that gaming up to 21 hours a week resulted in positive benefits. Over that and the positive benefits of gaming were lost. Everything has a balance. We need to listen to our own bodies and find ways to use tech to enhance rather than in inhibit our health.51ohurxogil-_sx327_bo1204203200_

If you haven’t listened to one of Jane McGonigal’s TED Talks or checked out her book Super Better, I would highly recommend it.  As she shared it’s a revolutionary approach to getting stronger, happier, braver and more resilient all powered by the science of games (it’s on the cover). It’s significantly changed my perspective on how applying the psychology of gaming can positively change our lives by building up our physical, social, mental and emotional resilience. She addressed the need for balance and shares the science behind it – in fact there’s an entire website devoted to the science behind the Super Better game.  That’s right it’s also a game – you can play.  There are so many educational applications here that it needs it’s own post,         Image from Amazon.ca
but here’s what I will say.  My daughter and I are using the strategies and I’ve recommended them to teachers to help deal with all things from behavior to learning how to read.

Holmes also identified eye strain, headaches and reduced sleep as fallout from spending extended time with our beloved devices; moreover, she highlighted staring at our phones changes our posture adding to the health costs.

23172149944_d29d8b52201During the past year I’ve been working with Carla Gradin, a body language trainer and wardrobe stylist (also a former high school math teacher). During our training sessions, she’s shared how first impressions take less than 2-3 seconds to form a lasting perspective and how power posing can change your brain chemistry. But what’s really interesting is how technology, in particular, staring at your phone closes your body language.  Just think about it, you look down at your device, your shoulders roll in and your eyes are focused on the cyber world.  What impression are you giving to those around you and how is your body position influencing your brain.

Photo Credit: FotoGrazio via Compfight cc

Check out Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on how your body language shapes who you are.  How you position your body affects the hormones released in your body.  So maybe think twice before you pull out that cell phone at your next gathering.

One of my favourite parts of my online graduate classes is learning from the stories of my fellow students and each week I’m amazed at how much I learn from everyone’s perspectives.  Life truly is about perspective.  This week Nicole’s post the Pursuit of Health in a Modern World, resonated with me.  Our health is dependent upon the choices that we make and the practices that we as teachers and parents model for our children. It’s about choosing to actively find balance.  I appreciate Nicole’s description of life with a conscious decision to choose when tech adds value.  She shared…

We haul our kids outside about 360 days a year. We crush books, and we cook, and we break toys and make rather large messes and spend a lot of face to face time with them because we find that when technology isn’t in the moment, we do actually have lot of time to be face to face. – Nicole

And so as my daughter fell asleep watching Netflix on the couch while I worked on this post I understand first hand the challenges and advantages of parenting in our device connected world.  While I know life is about consciously making healthy choices, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.  We are surrounded by technology that has the potential to heal or harm depending how we use it.  What I hope you take from this post is an awareness of how technology influences our health and as Oprah shared (in the video below) it’s about asking ourselves, “What’s the next right move?”  and then the next right move.  Find your balance and enjoy the journey along the way:)


Interesting Articles I encountered while writing this blog post:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHichamBennir%2Fvideos%2F1635989173392703%2F&show_text=0&width=560

What do you need to know before you Google?

Do you have to know what you are looking for in order for Google to have the answers?

All I can say is Wow!  What an intense evening of debate for our EC&I 830 class. Both teams dug into the topics and shared points that made me think twice about whether or not schools should be teaching anything that can be googled?

Google
Screenshot of Google Search

Do you need to?

It’s an interesting question and one that deserves more than just a passing thought.  We are educators and what, how and why we teach the way we do matters to our students.  It impacts how they think about the world.  

 Both teams raised valid concerns that made me think about what we know and what we take for granted in the age of instant access.  While I still come back to the idea that it’s not about the technological tool but rather how you use it to encourage deeper learning. The points raised made me think about when automaticity is appropriate and necessary to lay the framework for deeper, critical thinking.  And just because we can google it, doesn’t mean that we should.

I have to admit I was swayed by the debate statement.  Should we be teaching anything that can be googled… but perhaps the question really is should we be assessing things that can be googled?  To me it’s not so much how you access information, it’s what you do with it once you have it.  

Heick’s article, “How Google impacts the way students think” raised several key points that made me wonder…..

  • When we are curious do we stop at the first website that google gives us?
  • How many people move beyond the first link?
  • Why do some move beyond the first link and continue to dig deeper while others are content with the first explanation?

Have you ever stopped to think about why you stop at the first link you find?

→ If I’m just looking for a confirmation of the concept then I tend to stop if the first link confirms the knowledge that I have.

→ If I’m truly researching a topic, I follow one link to the next until I feel I’ve reached my goal that or I’ve been distracted by various links along the way…. I wonder how much of my research is shaped by Google’s knowledge of me?

Speaking of which I came across this Knowledge Graph Video, which talks about how Google is attempting to make even more connections for you when you search.

 

map with car
Fidler Jan Morguefile

 

 

Heick also asked if we think of google as a destination rather than just part of the journey? As if Googling is easier than thinking?

Does Google as Heick suggested promote information independence as opposed to knowledge interdependence?

It takes me back to the question that students often ask….

pen and paer
Cohdra – Morguefile

If I have to cite everything I find then when is it actually my words that come through?

 While helping students and people in general understand the value of intellectual property and giving credit where it’s due, is an issue that needs to be addressed… that’s a different post.
Does googling promote the development of your own voice?
Who is responsible for weaving the knowledge connections together?
When do all those separate bits and bytes of data become knowledge
or evidence of learning?

It’s the ongoing conversation I had with students when we talked about how they could share the story of their learning.  It’s up to the student to analyze, evaluate and create meaningful connections.  The points they choose to cite, the order they share the information in and the stories they connect them to in their life — that’s what we need to learners to think about. So as one of my classmates aptly pointed out, just how much information do you need to know in your brain to actively understand all of the information we encounter everyday.

Just pause for a moment and think about all of the knowledge and skills you have stored in your brain that’s reached a level of automaticity — you don’t have to think about it you just know it….

  • Did you have to think about where the letters were on the keyboard to type your response?
  • If you see a red octagon…. What does that mean?
  • Can you read these words?  If you are a fluent reader, chances are you didn’t have to stop and think about decoding the words. You know your letters and sight words.

letters

Do you wonder just how ingrained our learning is?

Try the Stroop Test for a quick reflection on just how deeply words are encoded into our brain. You can try out the Stroop Test here – follow the instructions and reflect on just how much our brains are programmed to respond in certain ways.

    • While the Stroop test measures interference in the types of information your brain is receiving, it’s interesting to think about how many skills and pieces of knowledge we take for granted.

As an interesting side note, I spent Wednesday in a Diversity Education Teacher inservice and we were learning about executive functioning of the brain.  Our Ed Psych, shared that when we know our basic math facts and letters (i.e. we’ve learned them to the point of auotmaticity), when we need to access that knowledge the back part of our brain goes to work.  For learners that struggle with basic facts that aren’t automatic the brain activates parts of our frontal lobe to try and help.  Eventually students can figure it out but the costs of accessing and processing the info is much higher.

 

The video, How the Internet is Changing Your Brain – highlights unless we actively work with information in our short term memory it is not going to be encoded into our long term memory.  “The more we use Google, the less likely we are to retain what we see.” (para. 3). Or is it really the rise of of Connectivism.  The idea that learning takes place not only in the connections that we make with information internally in our own brains based on the experiences we have, but that “learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing” (Wikipedia – Connectivism).

In the end, we know that learners today have more access to information than ever before through tools that can make knowledge acquisition almost instantaneous.  The true art of teaching and learning will be to find a balance.  As Danielle’s blog post noted, whether it’s searching online or using our memory, the task or reason needs to be purposeful if we are going to fully engage the student in making meaningful and lasting knowledge connections.  After all, it’s just data unless we actually make meaning from it.

If we are assessing on questions that can be googled or looked up in a book, are we really assessing students on what they know or on their research skills?  Is it really Google that’s causing us to have shorter attention spans and transfer less knowledge to long term memory or is it a the evolution of a connective technology that increases our access and our cultural learning practices haven’t caught up?

What do you think?….did you just google the topic 🙂

 

Who really enhances learning in the classroom?

Is it really technology in the classroom that enhances learning?

Or is it

the people and how they use the technology that makes the difference.  It’s like saying that any social media tool is inherently good or bad… the code itself isn’t bad … it’s how we use it that impacts our learning and the experiences of others around us.

What or rather who is it that enhances technology in the classroom?

I think in the end it’s not so much about the technological tool that you have in the classroom it’s about what you do with the technology you have.  As I listened to the debate and reviewed the shared articles, our technology discussion reminded me of a motivational workshop lead by Rick Lavoie.  He reminded us that we are among the first generation of teachers that didn’t grow up in the same world as our students.  Yes we still attend schools that resemble the traditional brick and mortar schools of years gone by but life has changed or maybe it’s that we have added a variety of ways to interact with others that has changed?

How many educational tools have come along since you were in high school or even university?

Click on the question above to share some of the technological changes that stand out for you.  Check out the responses here.

Today’s students live in a connected world in which interaction happens in a variety of ways (face to face, online or through social media).  So how do we prepare ourselves for our connected world filled with technology that has the potential to change how we learn?  Lavoie cited Alvin Toffler,

toffler
Source  ―  Alvin Toffler

Those 3 words – Learn, Unlearn & Relearn –  have stuck with me.  So how do we as educators refine our learning environments and strategies to challenge students to think about how they learn, what digital tools enhance their learning and to make meaningful connections to their learning?

Does technology in the classroom make a difference?
I believe it all depends how you use it.

Perhaps it’s committing to be a life long learner, doing the best you can with the technology you have and learning from the students as you go.  Although that is sometimes easier said than done.

It’s about what you do with what you have….

  • Siegal & Kirkley remind us that the internet gives us 24/7 access to massive amounts of information or data and note Roszak’s comment:

You cannot mass-produce knowledge, which is created by individuals minds, drawing on indvidual expereince... Making valude judgements.-

(Web Based Instruction, p. 263-264)
(Image created with Canva)

The source is old 1997, but the comment still raises a valid point.
It’s just information unless we do something with it.

I have to admit.  I’m a firm believer in the value of integrating technology into the
classroom, but with that comes the acknowledgement that technology is just a tool.  

sw_BacklitKeyboard_FFP10029
JPPI on morgueFile.com

Unless you know what to do with the device, it’s not going to be an effective or productive learning tool.  It’s really about educators taking the lead and demonstrating how technology can be a useful tool.  It’s about how teachers integrate the tool into their classes, so that ultimately we don’t talk about the pencil and the eraser as these special tools to help students learn.  It’s about learning and choosing the technological tools that best support your learning needs. Pen, pencil, laptop or mobile device. 

As an interesting aside….
The “Does Technology enhance learning debate” isn’t particularly new and thanks to Dr. Marguerite Koole in a recent conversation for sharing the pencil and eraser example.

pencil.jpg
 

Jentosoi morguefile.com

 

While we take for granted the fact that most pencils come with erasers, it was at one time a revolutionary idea; however,

“school teachers feared an increase in carelessness in children’s work due to the extra appendage on the pencil.  This may have been true but it seems that the ability to work faster and being less nervous about making an error has only increased productivity, and the pencil has become one of the world’s most useful and popular writing tools.” (Phillips, 2010)

As I was reading through the blogs this week, I think Kyle summed it up well in his post, “The concerns about these distractions are certainly real and we as teachers must be mindful of them.  However, with proper training and education, the benefits of technology are so vast.”

 

So how do you know what to do with the technological tools you have?

Like Kyle mentioned,  along with the disagree side of our debate, purchasing the physical technology is only one part of the equation. Supporting thoughtful, relevant, ongoing PD is not the norm.  What type of implementation model is being used to support the people part of the process?  Alec Couros shared that a 50/50 split of spending on devices and PD is recommended, while Carlson (2002) encouraged a 60-40 split. Ongoing discussion comments revealed, not surprisingly, that the other half of the budget is not spent on PD.

How often is technology related PD sustainably built into the implementation?

How often do we considered a model of instructional design such as ADDIE  to help guide and process our thinking?  The ADDIE model encourages us to Analyze the needs, the audience and our learning goals.  Purposefully DESIGN a structure, method and strategies that we can DEVELOP into relevant, timely training.  Next we create a strong path to implement the training and EVALUATE the effectiveness so that necessary updates can be useful.

What about Assistive Tech?

This model could help us purposefully integrate Assistive Tech into student learning.  As I work with teachers and students, there are many instances in which Assistive Tech can aid the learning of a student.  Whether it’s learning how to use a communication switch or a helping students access the supportive features of Google Read Write having access to the tech is only one piece of the equation.  Both students, teachers and supporting professional needs to consciously integrate the tool into the student’s learning plan regardless of whether it’s a formal IIP (Inclusion and Intervention Plan) or simply a tool that students can use in the classroom.  The effectiveness of the intervention is inextricably linked to the people in the student’s environment.  Teachers who are supported by professionals and school staff are more likely to purposefully scaffold the use of the tool into daily student learning.  It takes time to build the skill set and the environmental conditions in which a student can independently use the tool to aid learning and Adebisi et al’s article reminded us of a variety of Assistive Tech aspects to consider.

My only side note from my personal experiences with supporting assistive tech usage is to ensure you include the student and family in the process.  Because in the end, if the student refuses to wear or use the device…  it’s hard to effectively integrate it.

How has technology impacted my learning?

When I was teaching in my 1:1 hybrid classroom…

    1. The connections that my students were able to make to the concepts, how they were able to encode their learning and the ways they were able to share their ideas opened up.
    2. Did they have to use technology in my class? The opportunity was there for them but the most important part was making a decision about what tool worked best for them to learn.
    3. Did I encourage them to try out the new app, website or device?  Yes, I think you have to try it out before you can tell me that it doesn’t work.  It’s not so much about the tool as learning to think about how you learn (metacognition) and why you as a learner choose different strategies.
    4. It changed the playing field for my students.  In the informal data that I collected through surveys and reflection questions, one key point resonated with me.  A shy, student explained that when we were online, people actually listened and responded thoughtfully to her points.  She explained that they saw her ideas… they saw beyond their assumptions.

Personally, technology  has played a significant role in my personal learning.

Without technology, completing my masters two hours away from any university would be very challenging.  Not impossible but it would most certainly have affected my decision to start the program.  So for me it not only increases access to education but provides a way to actively participate and build a personal learning network. 

Audio books…

A rather simple technology has changed my travel time into PD time.  Life’s a bit crazy with a young child, a full time job, a home based business and masters classes.  The ability to access podcasts, books and online training as I drive turns traditionally lost time into learning time. 

So does technology enhance learning.…..it certainly can if you purposefully choose to embed it into the learning …. maybe one day we won’t talk about the technology… just the learning.

 

 


Interesting Articles that I came across during the creation of this post:

The stories that bring us together

I’m excited to be joining EC&I 830 as it’s been a bit of a last minute surprise.  You see I’m an Profile 1ETAD student looking to finish up my 9th and 10th classes by the end of the summer.  I was struggling to find electives at the U of S for spring and summer session, so I reached out to Alec for course ideas.  He mentioned the possibility of EC&I 830:)  And so began a fun process of applying through the SUGA agreement to have this course approved.  Fast forward from March to this morning at 7:30 a.m. when I checked my email and found out I was in the class but I’d missed the first one.

So I’m very happy to be here working on my 9th class.  I’ve also started my 10th class in the ETAD program an independent study on leadership in online environments.  Seems like when it rains it pours… or snows as it was today in north east Sask.

I’m married to my high school sweetheart…. which means we’ve been together for 23 years. He’s a shop teacher, a DJ and currently plays in two bands.  We have 1 daughter who’s 7 and she has lots of energy 🙂

I’m in my 17th year of education and for the past 4 years I’ve worked as a Learning Consultant for the North East School Division.  That means I work with teachers from Pre-K to Grade 12 in almost all aspects of education.  My first 13 years included teaching high school biology, science, photography/video editing/21st Century skills class (where I first met Alec when he Skyped into my classroom).  I spent a few years as a Learning Based Resource Facilitator which then merged into a role as a Differentiated Instruction Facilitator.

Here’s an example of some of the things we used to work on when I was in the classroom.


My interest in Ed Tech started in undergrad classes and continued to evolve into my classroom.  When the opportunity to work with the SaskEd WBLRD projects presented itself I jumped at the chance to learn Dreamweaver and build online resources.  I’ve been through several evolutions of web design tools.  I’ve taught in a 1:1 hybrid environment – truly my favorite teaching experience.  I’ve co-taught through digital tools with a teacher in a different town.  So learning about social media and digital technology are truly some of my favourite things!  Occasionally,  the digital realm finds its way into my Learning Consultant role:)

In my spare time I’m a Managing Executive Stylist with Color By Amber a home based eco-friendly, socially responsible jewelry company. Since I’ve joined the business world my desire to better understand social media has evolved. I’m curious not only about how I can use social media to support my business, but rather how can I use social media to build resilient leaders and support my team of 90 plus stylists nation wide.

I just finished my ETAD portfolio and you are welcome to take a look around.  I look forward to meeting all of you online and am excited to learn from all of your experiences.

So that’s a bit of my story, can’t what to hear what your story is 🙂

If you’d like to stay connected online, here are a few of my social media connections:

  • Twitter – @Stephanie_Pipke

  • Facebook – Stephanie Painchaud

  • Professional Facebook Account – Mrs. Pipke-Painchaud

  • Instagram – @Stephs_Style_Stories

  • YouTube Channel

  • Pinterest

  • What’s Your Story with Steph & Tracy

    • We all have a story that shapes our lives.  What’s your story? started as a joint venture with my friend Tracy as a way for us to share what we’ve learned and inspire others to continue learning and writing their own stories.  Because what you do today will change your story tomorrow!  Please note that this is in it’s very early stages and is truly a work in progress…. I just need some time to work on it:)