Cutting the strings on censoring student communication

Student interactions online have always worried me. I grew up in a time where MSN and chat rooms were developing. Girls my age used those tools to bully other girls. Negative comments are one of the worst parts of the internet, so allowing my students to communicate freely freaks me out. I do not want them to speak  negatively to each other, or about their work. I just always assumed it was better to leave that part out of my Google Classroom. One time one of my students started a comment feed and I abruptly disabled the option.


This class has made me think twice about having my students communicate online. In chapter 4.4.1 What is online collaborative learning? They state that “students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to invent, to explore ways to innovate, and, by so doing, to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems rather than recite what they think is the right answer.” I know that there are many benefits to it, so maybe I just need to trust my students.

I think open communication could be good. For example, my students could ask each other questions about the assignments. They could discuss the material, help each other find resources, and have conversations online through my course. In the chapter “Harasim emphasises the importance of three key phases of knowledge construction through discourse:

  • idea generating: this is literally brainstorming, to collect the divergent thinking within a group;
  • idea organising: this is where learners compare, analyse and categorise the different ideas previously generated, again through discussion and argument;
  • intellectual convergence: the aim here is to reach a level of intellectual synthesis, understanding and consensus (including agreeing to disagree), usually through the joint construction of some artefact or piece of work, such as an essay or assignment.”

In my Google Classroom I could try allowing students to read each other’s work, and comment. I have always learnt something from my classmates blogs, so I know it would be the same for my students. It also allows them to improve their typing skills and their communication skills.

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In my course prototype I have implemented a few ways students would communicate with professionals via Zoom. They will essentially video chat with a Journeyperson in their field and interview them. I will ask the Journeyperson to provide feedback on how the student represented themselves. I think this will be beneficial for when the students have a job interview. I know the roles will be reversed, but they will practice interacting with a stranger. Other than that I do not have interactions online.


As the chapter points out, the benefits of inquiry and communication online are:

  • social presence ” is the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.”
  • teaching presence  is “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes
  • cognitive presence “is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse“.

So why wouldn’t I try to incorporate more online interactions into my course? One thing I can add is implementing a Flipgrid activity for their work experience reflection. Students can express what they learnt and how it went, maybe even if it helped them decide whether or not to get into that career. And maybe I can even have an assignment where the students edit each other’s Research A Trade Report from module one. This way they can spend time learning about other trades, and improve their essential skills like  reading, writing and communication!


As the chapter points out, successful online collaboration happens when the course is organized. So it will be my job to ensure that meaningful communication is taking place so that all students can learn in a safe environment.


Summary of Learning EC&I 830

I cannot believe that this semester is over!

I had such a great semester in EC&I 830. I did not really know how Alec’s class would be different from 832, but honestly, it was a whole new ball game.



The idea of debates was so engaging that I had a hard time not thinking about the topics all week long. I was very interested in the fact that we were forced to research both sides of the topic whether we agreed or not because most classes are spoon fed to you. Although there is usually room for discussion, it is easy to tell the objective of a class.

By allowing us, the students, to research what we wanted, what meant something to us, it allowed us to dive into the information in a relevant and very interesting way. I loved the fact that I was forced to think about the other side and formulate an opinion, whether I was on one side, or in the middle.

Thanks to everyone involved this semester. I had such a blast. I am sure I will see you again in one of Alec’s classes. Have a great summer and I hope you enjoy my Summary of Learning for EC&I 830.

Technological Equity

To be honest, I did not know what to expect from this weeks debate: Technology is a force for equity in society.


I had one immediate thought…. when everyone has technology, it can be a force of equity, but I quickly learned there were so many more details to this issue.

When the debate started, the agree side, Jen, Dawn, and Sapna presented three main points:

Technology removes barriers- they explained that technology can act like a bridge for learning, students can have a voice, and technology has features like assistive technology that help students who have issues reading and writing.

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Technology connects the world- the agree group explained that most people have access to technology and therefore it is the perfect tool to connect the world. It also provides fairness in regards to gender, socioeconomic status and ethnic background.



Technology is accessible and can be affordable.

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A large part of the agree’s debate was the idea of the digital divide. The group wanted to ensure that the audience understood that this is an issue, but technology is not to blame. The divide comes from the corporate sector who decides the price of technology. Technology should be accessible to everyone because it has become essential to live.

Another great point made by the debaters was that online classes have opened the doors to many people. In the video What We’re Learning from Online Education, Daphne Koller explains that research has found that lecture based classes place half the class above average, and half the class below. When students were given personal tutors, 98% of the students were above average. Koller is acknowledging  that it is financially impossible to provide every student with a personal tutor, but we can afford to give everyone access to technology. Technology has many benefits such as personalized learning… and it doesn’t get tired of marking like a teacher.

This idea is also reiterated in the article How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic: where they explain that OER, which is freely available high quality materials that can be downloaded and edited to support teaching and learning, has opened up so many worlds to students in the Arctic who do not have access to all of the classes they might need to be successful.

The agree group did a great job of explaining the benefits of social media, but was immediately challenged by Amy S. and Rakan. They explained that there are many reasons why technology is not a force for equity in society. Their four main points were:

Gender- the disagree side stated that the internet is a place where women encounter a lot of sexual harassment and they are often abused online. Technology perpetuates men’s dominance whether we notice it or not; for example: how most voices on recognition sotware are female, giving the idea that women are meant to be ordered around. Furthermore, most graduates going into the technology field are men.


Racial-The second reason why technology does not promote equity is because AI has been found to be racist. The group quickly points out that humans are racist, not AI, but that AI is learning racism from humans.  Even the facial recognition software has been found to be racist. Darker skin is hard to recognize which is clearly racism.

      1. Photo Credit:


      1. Flickr via


    1.  Technology and colonialism- In some places, free internet is available, but only certain sites are shown. This is seen as sites like Facebook controlling what information is put out there.
  1. via GIPHY

      Inequality was the last point raised by the disagree group. They explain that no matter the country, English is the primary language seen and heard on the internet. Also, in Canada, only 62% of families with lower-income have access to technology. This directly affects them because without practise using these tools it is harder for them to get hired for jobs in this ever growing field.


I was very interested in the Artificial Intelligence statistics. I did not know that the AI programs had so many issues regarding race. The article AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals that AI is learning our racism.  No only that, but “the words “female” and “woman” were more closely associated with arts and humanities occupations and with the home, while “male” and “man” were closer to maths and engineering professions.” These facts are really disturbing and whether it be the testing pool or not, it should be the responsibility of the companies to fix this issue.

Another great point brought up this week was Regina Public School’s decision to reallocate technology last year. My school was directly affected by this, and to be honest, I was a little mad about it. I understood that they did it to be more fair, but I never really thought about the reasons before this weeks debate. During the debate it became clear that some schools have more technology than others. By reorganizing the computers/ laptops and tablets, they were trying to create a smaller divide. After tonight’s debate, I found myself, for the first time, sympathizing with the decision.

As in most of these debates, I found it hard to choose a side. It was the first week that I was actually unsure of what side I would pick at the beginning. I chose to go with agree because I honestly believe that technology has the ability to create opportunities for people including learning, reaching out and giving them a voice. But I have to admit that there are many inequalities with technology, even in Canada. The disagree group was so close to changing my mind. Their informationw was explained well and it really made me think about the divide that technology can create between people.

I really think we have a lot of work in order to ensure technology creates equity throughout the world, but  we cannot ignore that it has advanced the world, and opened up so many doors.


This week was my debate!

And to be honest, I was really scared to be on the agree side of Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. I have found nothing but success when using tools like Google Classroom, or the odd Facebook page. I think it is so easy to connect with parents because, like our students, they are always on social media! Along with that, I think it is great for schools to appeal to the interests of their students, and to be honest, they are mostly interested in their social media accounts. 

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Kari, Esther, and Shelly had great points in their debate. I think their biggest point is that social media and technology is the reality of our children. We need to stop telling students how to live, but instead empower them to make the correct decisions regarding technology. We want students who use their powers for good, we do not want passive students.  Teachers can have an influence.

Students often view the online world as less stressful because they are comfortable using it. We need to remember that our students are capable of using these tools. In the article, Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education they explain that “Social media can also be used to promote students’ engagement. Students who often complain of being intimidated or bored in the classroom may feel comfortable to express their creativity and voice their opinion on a social network website. Another finding of this study is that social media applications foster collaboration as they allow students to work together to achieve a common goal.” It is our job to teach them how to use it correctly. As long as teachers are sharing with consideration, including the desires of the guardians we should be in the clear… right?

The disagree side also argued that it is the best way to stay connected. I think this was their best point. In the same article it “it has been shown that social media enhance communication and interaction among students and between teachers and students. Thanks to these platforms, instructors and students are now able to communicate with each other within or between classes.”  Many of my students find it hard to communicate in “real life”.  By using online tools we are allowing them to communicate in a space where they feel comfortable, and they have experience using.

Having guardians in the loop is another great benefit. It really is the best way to ensure student success in the higher grades. By keeping my guardians informed, I am creating a positive learning environment, and I cannot lie, it makes my job a lot easier. I give them a tool to use to see everything their student is expected to do. It keeps them informed and allows students to access assignments at their home schools, or home.  I also find myself sending a lot less emails with attached assignments!

The last point the group made was that we need to teach students how to create a positive digital footprint. Students are not born knowing what to post and what not to, what the rules are, or the ramifications. It is the teachers job (because if we don’t do it, there is no guarantee anyone else will) to help guide our students through this lesson. We need to create lifelong habits with our students. They explained that avoidance is unrealistic and we need to be proactive.


The article Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies explains that “the last two years of primary school (when children are approximately 10–12 years of age) would be an appropriate time to educate tweens about good practices for the development of positive digital footprints” The go on to explain that “Children at this stage are clearly agentic and are demonstratively managing their digital footprint in strategic ways.”

The only negative the article mentioned was that “In some cases, however, it would appear that children’s agency to make decisions about their digital footprint is in tension with the actions of parents and carers who are posting about their children online, in ways that are not always seen as positive by children themselves.” Which was a large part of our debate!

I honestly think the disagree side did a great job of outlining the importance of using social media tools and essentially sharing students work and photos… and if I wasn’t forced to do research on the agree side, I wouldn’t be so educated about the risks!

I think the largest concern I have is privacy. We can have all the privacy rules we want. We can get all the forms signed, but when it comes down to it, once we post those pictures anyone can screenshot and share the photo. My mother does it all the time on Instagram with my niece. In the article Dangers Of Posting Pictures Online | Is Your Child At Risk? they really delve into the issue. They explain that “It does not matter how innocent the photo is, if your child has got what a predator is looking for, they will take that photo.” The really disturbing part, is what is going on with those photos after we have shared them, whose hands are on them, and what are they doing with them? It was stated over and over again that guardians really enjoy sharing photos and knowing what their student is doing on a daily basis, but we are not really thinking about the long term effects?


This leads directly into the safety aspect of oversharing in our schools. The disagree group stated that using technology is less stressful, but although it may be less stressful for completing work, or parents staying in touch, the long term effects of social media use has not been studied. This generation is the first generation to be fully immersed in technology. Recent studies, such as Social Media Use, Social Media Stress, and Sleep: Examining Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Relationships in Adolescents have stated that there is a negative influence of Social Media on sleep. The bright screens cause arousal in our youth and they have trouble falling asleep. This has proven to lessen melatonin, a sleep agent in our body. This in turn, causes high levels of stress because the students are tired during the day. They become stressed because they cannot focus and have poor coping skills. The fact is that students use social media and technology in every aspect of their life, do schools need to be part of this as well? Are the positives really out weighing the negatives? The true answer: We don’t know yet! But maybe it is important to be mindful now so we do not have so many consequences later in life. 

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Another important questions debated tonight was if the use of technology in our classrooms even effective? Social media for learning: A mixed methods study on high school students’ technology affordances and perspectives found that only 23% [of students] think social media helps them learn, 22% think its meaningful, and 13%  believes it deepens understanding. With such low numbers are teachers ignoring the facts and doing what they think is best for students?

Often times, teachers are unfamiliar with technology and can hinder students learning because they are not using it properly, or the sites they are using are outdated. The worst is when the school board blocks a website we need. I think a large argument is also that technology is often a distraction. No matter how hard I preach, I catch my students using their cell phones are laptops inappropriately. They are either chatting with friends, watching videos or playing games.

I remember being young and that I hated when my parents or teachers would compliment me. In the article Dangers Of Posting Pictures Online | Is Your Child At Risk? More than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media. As a youth, I wasn’t prepared to hear any compliments because I did not believe them. The idea that my successes would be posted online would be so embarrassing. Even if I was okay with my photo being posted for the world to see, I think about the competition that this could create in a class. If you are celebrating some students,  but not others, this could be seen as unfair and damaging. I think a huge component of the agree side was that we are creating student’s digital footprint. We are choosing what it looks like, instead of them having a choice. We need to pick a side, either have students empowered and active, or for safety reasons, leave it in the hands of teachers.

Another great topic that was discussed tonight was the idea of consent. Do students really understand what they are giving consent to? I think some of my students pay attention, but many click boxes and sign forms without really taking the time to read and understand. I even think about their parents and how little some of them understand about technology. Are they aware of the dangers of posting or consenting?


One thing that annoys me is the constant changing of rules regarding sharing. I feel like I will learn one thing, and someone will tell me it is changing. I do understand that some of it is safety, but things like sharing assignments should not be an issue. If the board supports using Google Docs, then we should be able to use it freely. Instead, earlier this year, we were told our students could no longer share assignments through email because their names were attached. I think many teachers revert back to old ways when so many changes are being implemented. It would be nice if new policies and databases were researched effectively and properly by experts.

The best part of tonight’s debate is that I was forced to choose the opposite of what I believed, and it taught me so much. I love using technology and social media in my classroom, but it is important that I am fully aware of the dangers that are ahead of me. I need to be mindful of the way I share information about my class for the safety and well being of my students, but that being said, I DEFINITELY see the benefit of using technology and sharing. I need that connection with home to ensure my students are supported!

Great debate everyone!

Does Technology Enhance or Harm?

I have used technology since I was in elementary school and I have owned a cell phone since I was 16. So on one hand I feel like I understand why students use their phone so much. But I have been teaching for seven years, and I really do understand the pain technology can cause in the classroom.


For the majority of my teaching career I would fight students about their use of technology. I would constantly tell them to get on task, off their phones, off Facebook. Almost every semester I debated taking cell phones away all together. In the article Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away. They explain that “research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting — it’s so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture.”

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I know this is true because I see my students do it everyday, mostly with Snapchat, but it still happening. Furthermore, I know it is true because I am guilty of this! The article states that students learn more when they write information out. We have been hearing this for years. I often make my students write out important definitions because I think the retain the information more. They do not like writing, but we spend so much time on the computer that it changes our lessons up a bit, and I think they benefit.

The article Research: College Students More Distracted Than Ever  claims” in 2013 30 percent of students self-reported that they used a digital device more than 10 times for non-learning reasons during class-time, in 2015 the count rose to 34 percent.” Students are constantly using devices for texting, social networking, or gaming. When students receive poor grades or they don’t hand in work the students in my classroom say the same things as in the study: they “don’t pay attention” and 80.5 percent listed “miss instruction.” They know what they are doing will negatively impact their learning, but do it anyway.

When I moved to Campus Regina Public, my position on technology really changed. We are core classes (ELA, Math, Social etc.) combined with electives (Auto, Welding) so we no longer had text books. We 100% had to rely on technology, and as you know there is not an abundance of technology in any high school right now. Incorporating cell phones and computers into my daily lessons was mandatory in order to get anything done.

Our first debate, Does technology in the classroom enhance learning, is a debate I have been having with myself and colleagues for years. While expressing my frustrations with technology with other staff members I was always met  with one of two sides:

  1. They totally agreed with me and often told me the method they used to reduce technology misuse in their classrooms
  2. They explained: students need to understand time and place with cell phones. They need to be taught when to use them and how to use them properly, and if they still misuse technology, then that’s not your fault and maybe they need to learn that lesson.

And I chose the second approach!

My class is partnered with Capital Auto Mall, and at work, the employers have a zero tolerance for cell phones. It is a safety issue as well as an employability issue. So I am lucky that we get to back up our thoughts about technology misuse with our corporate partners. In the shop, students are not allowed to be on their cell phones, and when they come to ELA they are taught time and place. We constantly ask them, should you be on that website or app right now? Are you being employable? How much money would you have wasted your boss? And for most students it actually works.



When we were speaking in class yesterday, I was going to chime in about how CRP does receive backlash from students about our cell phone policies in the shop. Some students really buy into the idea, and understand the employability aspect, but some students have a hard time with it. I find that students are defensive over their technology. They think it is a right to use it when they want. When the students hear our rules, they are defiant at first, express that they have a right to have it or use it, or that their parents are calling them and they must have it out. It does take time, but eventually most do understand that we are trying to teach them proper use of their devices.


I was surprised to find that many of the reasons why I felt like technology was detrimental to learning were the thoughts expressed in our debate. As Amy, Wendy and Kyla explained there are many disadvantages to technology in the classroom. One of the largest reasons was cost. Not every classroom has access to technology and this is frustrating to teachers and students. When we do have access to the technology, it does not work properly or the sites do not work. They explain that technology is just a tool and that in a way it is killing creativity and they do not prepare students for jobs without technology.

I think it is important to note that although I see their side about technology being a distraction in school,  I also see the value in teaching the students time and place. I think that this is the most important lesson we can teach students right now. I really believe that this is not a lesson they just learn as they grow older. They need to practice this behavior so it does not effect their futures.

I also liked that they talked about how the teachers role is important, that technology can be a distraction and that it is up to the teacher to implement the lesson in a way that engages students. I love teaching lessons that I am involved in, that the students are participating in and we have great discussions… but I think this can be done in conjunction with technology.



In the article Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning they explain how it needs to be “the right blend of teachers and technology.” It needs to be a team effort. Students need a teacher to explain the lesson, the importance of the lesson and model for them.  This is the teacher’s role. Then teachers should use the technology to further that lesson and demonstrate that lesson so students are prepared for real life. As the debate went on I realized that I was much more on the agree side of technology enhancing learning then the disagree side.

Katie, Jana and Kirsten explain that the most important part of using technology in the classroom was making sure teachers use technology effectively. We need to prepare students for the future. It ensures our students are up to date with information, can access information anywhere and also helps teachers get to students who need one on one attention. I agreed wholeheartedly about this. The fact that our students are training with programs that will help them later in life is very important. It is also imperative that my students get immediate feedback on their writing. I use Google Docs and make edits right on their page. I have never had more success with editing and rough drafts. The students get it back quickly enough that they haven’t forgotten in and their writing tends to improve. I really liked how they used the SAMR model. I like this because at first I was just using Google Docs as a substitute. But as I researched it, I found that I could comment, it auto saved for students and that they could access their work anywhere. Learning how to use the technology properly was essential to enhancing my students learning.


In the article Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning they also explain that “technology – when implemented properly -can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.” I think this has been proven in my class. Having the students constantly improve their writing in real time has improved their writing skills. Many of my students have never written a full essay, but with guidance and editing they get there.

I think that I have finally found that perfect balance of using technology in my classroom, and teaching students how to properly use their technology. I think our debaters hit the topic perfectly. We discussed the impact technology has had positively and negatively and now it is our choice on how we approach the situation! I do not think technology is going away anytime soon. And it is important for our students to learn how to use it properly.

Summary of Learning

Whoa! I cannot believe it is time to hand in our Summary of Learning.

EC&I 832 has opened my mind to the idea of digital citizenship and media literacy. I feel like I knew about these terms, but I did not critically think about them. While learning about these topics, it became apparent that I should be teaching my students about these topics as well.

In my two PowToon Videos I explain my favourite articles, topics, discussions and really how this class made me push my boundaries and become more knowledgeable about technology. It in the end, this class actually made me use the technology we learnt about which was scary for me.

Please feel free to check it out! I am pretty proud of my little PowToon!

One topic I did not touch on in my video was my PLN.  As I mention in my PowToon videos, blogging was my absolute favourite this semester. I found I could speak about the readings in a comfortable environment and then interact with my peers about those topics. I feel like I have developed a lot of connections in this class. I really appreciate how everyone was so willing to help me, even when I contacted them directly. I liked that we had the Google+ community because we could share articles and get help as soon as possible.

One of the aspects of the semester that I need to work on improving is Twitter. I have really worked hard to go on Twitter everyday, and read the feed, but I am really bad at posting. I am the creeper and not the active participant. I am signed up for a couple more classes with Alec, and if possible, Twitter will be one of my goals.


I want to thank everyone for their help this semester! I really had a great time and look forward to seeing you in future classes!

Help! I am illiterate in fake news…

I think I get the majority of my information from colleges and friends. We will have discussions about news stories, or send each other news links, but other than that, I get my news from social media. It’s not a “better” social media site like Twitter; it is usually Facebook or Instagram. I tried to replace it with different news apps, but quickly found myself not using them. The only excuse I have is laziness.


All day I take information in. I know that I am constantly processing something whether it be planning an event, thinking about a new assignment, evaluating the credibility of my student’s work or the numerous social media pages I look at. Although this information is going into my brain, and I am thinking about it, I do not know how much I am processing or understanding.


When I think about my  personal strategies for analyzing and validating information (e.g. fake news or other information)… I can’t think of one! I rely on myself and my hunches, which is not good! Last week, when we spoke about fake news being emotional, I thought about how I would totally read those types of stories. I always question whether or not they are real depending on the grammar, and the appearance of the article or website, but I don’t really go beyond this. The only defense I have is that I try not to share something if I don’t know if it is true. I don’t want to spread misinformation and I do not want to offend anyone.

I know that this is an important topic for my students. I know they are flooded with fake news daily. I know that if I don’t teach them, no one will. I was appreciative that in class there were many sites shared that could help me determine whether something was fake like, and


I feel like this topic is something that I need to include into my major project. It wasn’t something I originally planned,  but media literacy is very important. In today’s world, being critical of media is even more important. I am actually excited about planning this resource. I feel like it is something that is useful for my students, and I can make it relevant to their interests in auto.

I don’t have a lot of insight for you guy this week. I do not have any strategies and it is definitely something I need to work on. I guess the question I have left for myself this week is: If I don’t have any strategies to determine whether something is credible, how can my students?