The Great Debate

This post was co-written with Lisa Frazer and also appears on her blog.


Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.

Our debate was on Thursday, and due to the double negative, we both argued the same side of the debate (the best side).  We based our argument around the Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTi) model as we feel strongly that this is the type of classroom that is needed in the 21st century in order for students to become the best lifelong learners they can be.  

Daina and Jocelyn brought up some key points as well. Some fit in with our argument. The first being that Google does not expose students to the learning process which is what we based our whole argument on.  They also added that students would not be motivated to remember information as easily because they have such quick, easy access to it with google.  They then went on to state that students needed to get “Back to the Basics” but then brought up a very valid point, “What are the Basics”? 

They stated one very specific key point that we feel should be the key assessment piece in learning— “If you can explain it, you understand it”. This led to a discussion on what assessment should look like. We feel that authentic assessment should be based around a conversation piece with a student in a conference-style manner or small group where students can explain their learning in multiple ways. Traditional teaching models do not necessarily fit this mold as students tend to just regurgitate information without really understanding. Therefore, they are not involved in the learning process.

Our research also found that 21st-century skills favor student-centered work, such as problem-based learning, project-based learning, and hands-on learning.  The LoTi model places great importance on ensuring that learning is student-centered and therefore students are exposed to the learning process. 

We read the book Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google by Ian Gilbert.  This book highlights the need for students to inadvertently learn the 6 skills (Positivity, Bravery, Determination, Self-Belief, Creativity, and Sheer Energy) that will enable them to be well-rounded individuals. Google cannot teach any of these skills. These skills can be taught in a 21st-century classroom using a model such as LoTi (Levels of Teaching Innovation) where technology is only APART of the learning. 

The LoTi Framework focuses on the balance of assessment, instruction and effective use of digital as well as other essential resources to promote the essential skills of higher-order thinking, engaged student learning, and authentic assessment practices.  The framework allows educators to ensure the learning process automatically flows. Teachers can reflect on their teaching practice to promote student-directed learning as opposed to teacher-directed learning.  

It is crucial that students be involved in the learning process and dig into their learning using the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity). 

  • Critical Thinking – empowers students to discover the truth, and separating fact from opinion.
  • Creativity – thinking outside the box. This means looking at a problem from multiple perspectives, including those that others might not see. 
  • Collaboration – virtually every job requires you to work with people, this skill is something that you cannot find from the internet. 
  • Communication – In the age of text-based communication, it is so important for students to learn how to convey their thoughts in a way that others understand them. 

We argue the importance of the teacher as a facilitator of learning.  A 21st-century teacher is now becoming a facilitator or the guide to help the students in their learning. This means shifting roles from a lecturer to a facilitator who provides resources, monitors progress, and encourages students to solve a problem. They help the student in the learning process to guide students to be able to apply the learning in real-life situations, making the learning meaningful and relevant. If the learning is meaningful, they will remember it, know when to apply it, how to put it together, and once practiced students can get creative with it.

We also argue the point that learning should be multi-sensory. We have 5 senses in which we can learn and each person learns a different way or a multitude of ways. Learning becomes much more tactile when you can see it, touch it, manipulate it in a multitude of ways. Real-life applications such as hands-on learning or land-based learning where students take ownership of their learning by doing things such as planting a garden is a much more relevant and beneficial way to learn. Students develop so many more skills through this type of process rather than to just learn about the plants themselves through googling it.

We stated the importance of deepening the learning process by utilizing experts such as elders, knowledge keepers, support experts, professionals, community members in the classroom. This process enables mastery of subjects while also providing students relevance to their own learning. It is also beneficial to students as they are exposed to positive role models in their community.

In Conclusion:



Debate #2: Technology a Force for Equity

Yesterday’s topic on the Great EdTech Debate was Technology is a force for equity in society. Nataly and Kalyn on the agree side, and Victoria and Jasmine on the disagree side.  Coming into the debate I voted in favour of the topic, however, I was unsure how I would feel by the end of this debate.  I was truly on the fence on this one.

Nataly and Kalyn highlighted three main reasons why technology is a force for equity in society.

  1. Greater access to information
  2. Personalized learning
  3. Helps people with disabilities

Victoria and Jasmine took on the opposing side, also made many excellent points on the other side. Their main arguments focus on

  1. The Digital Divide
  2. Techno-Colonialism
  3. The Non-Neutrality of Technology
The Main Take-Aways:

Being on the fence before the debate, after watching the debate left me even more stuck in the middle.  Both duos provided excellent points that highlighted the pros and cons of the topic.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Kalyn and Nataly discussed OERs.  OERs are a way to provide high-quality educational resources will no cost.  This would be invaluable to students and educators.  According to RMIT University, OERs provide opportunities for self-learning, and also include literacy skills such as searching, reusing, dissemination, branding, and networking.  All important skills we would want society to have.

Furthermore, in our group discussion we brought up the website Coursera, Coursera is a platform that offers many different university courses for free.  This on the surface appears to be a great equitable idea and service.  However, our discussion pointed out that it was often the most privileged in society that would use these courses.  My thought is that many of the courses still use academic language, and require skills that many people have not had the opportunities to acquire.

Assistive Technology

Kalyn and Nataly also brought up the excellent point of assistive technology.   Assistive Technology provides many for our students to learn.  Tools such as Google Read and Write, and Microsoft’s Immersive Reader provide opportunities to try to “Level the playing field” for students.

In the discussion, we discussed the importance of Universal Design for Learning.  I believe for technology to be truly equitable within Assistive Technology we need to approach if from a UDL perspective.  This means teaching the whole class how to use a program such as Microsoft’s Immersive Reader.  This is because many students would benefit from the tool regardless of ability.  This also allows students to not feel singled out.  Students pieces that they need to be successful.

The Digital Divide

We need to acknowledge the digital divide.

Affordability, the fact is that many cannot afford the technology needed to be successful. However, I do believe that this is becoming more and more realistic in the future as technology costs continue to be driven down.

Accessibility, as Victoria and Jasmine note, many rural areas do not have access to technology.  In our discussion in class we discussed that although we classify high-speed internet at 5mbps, the reality is that we often need a lot more than 5mbps for us to be effective online.  The reality is that often those with the least amount of accessibility are the people who are considered the most vulnerable. This includes northern Saskatchewan and many reserves.

Varying ability,  many people do not have the technical skills required to be efficient users of technology.  This could be due to previous issues with affordability, or accessibility of technology, or could be due to not having the skills taught. Jennifer Casa-Todd explains that there is an intergenerational divide, parents are not fully understanding the tools that their kids are using.

Last semester I also look into the digital divide, another form of inequity is the idea of empowerment divide.  According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when people participate online 90% of people do not contribute, 9% contribute sporadically, and 1% of users contribute often.

In Conclusion,

Overall, I swayed a bit to the disagree side.  I think that often that I become blinded by the fact that I am privileged enough to not recognize the impacts of the digital divide because I have never had to worry about not having access to technology.  I believe for us to truly become equitable these issues need to be addressed.  In the Hechinger Report Should Schools Teach Anyone Who Can Get Online of No One At All that Jasmine and Victoria highlight, “We should be thinking about internet connectivity as a utility right now,” he said. “We  would be horrified if 30 percent of our families didn’t have electricity or water in their homes.”  We need to ensure that our students have internet access outside of school.  Kalyn and Nataly shared an article called How Access to Technology Can Create Equity in Schools, it compares having access to physical technology and having no internet to having a car with no road.  The car is still useful, but it is a lot easier if a road is built.  In the end, I believe that technology can provide equity in many situations, but as a society, we are not there yet.

Debate #1: Does Technology Enhance Classroom Learning?

On Tuesday we started the great Edtech debate. Nancy and Amanda arguing that technology in the classroom enhances learning, whereas Trevor and Matt arguing against the same claim.  Both of the videos were creative and engaging.  Kudos to both duos for setting the bar so high.

Prior to the debate, I would side very much so on the pro-technology side of the argument.  I believe that there needs to be a balance of technology in the classroom.  Technology needs to have a purpose, it cannot be the goal.  Technology is the vehicle for learning.   Being such a pro-technology person and teacher I was excited to hear the opposing argument.

Nancy and Amanda brought up some great points in the video.  Some of the main points that resonated with me include.  The aspect of connecting when a physical connection is taken away.  Currently, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This has changed our daily lives.  I am curious if this happened forty or fifty years ago, would the lack of technology, resulting in a lack of connection, lead to further mental health problems? The ability to connect is the 5th C that technology allows us to have communication with others that would otherwise be unsafe, or impossible in the past. Nancy and Amanda highlighted that the best part of online learning is that it can happen anywhere and at any time.  We have the ability to collaborate with one another, and we don’t even need to be in the same place.  With technology, schools can go beyond the traditional walls and reach a larger audience, which provides more engagement for our students.

Nancy and Amanda shared an inspiration video that shows the importance of connection.  This video highlights how technology can bring people together.  It also further promotes the ability for us to reach a larger audience.  Imagine the connections that we can have in the classroom if we connect with other classrooms globally.  We have so much that we can learn from each other.

Matt and Trevor did bring up many good counterpoints. Many classroom teachers use unnecessary technology in education.  In this claim often I see teachers using technology for the purpose of using technology.  Your finished your assignment, here is an iPad to consume the rest of the class.  Furthermore, Trevor and Matt explain this technology does not have any pedagogical value if used without purpose.  In addition, Trevor and Matt include that screentime and technology addition are downfalls of technology that can harm student’s wellbeing.

In the article, The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Is Not What We Expected, it is highlighted an interesting perspective of the need to go back to screen-free lifestyles.  The article brings up the new digital divide, stating that more affluent families with children will experience less screen time than those of poorer and middle-class families.  The argument states that there is a concern that children will not know how to interact with other people, and the need to revert to play-based learning.

Within the class discussion, I found some key points that were being shared.  We discussed that often with technology, schools and school divisions do not have the infrastructure, time, or money to provide meaningful training for the apps and programs that they use.  Alec brought up an excellent point suggesting that 50% split between hardware and training.  I shared in the class that I find that technology can provide a voice for those who are more unwilling to share in the classroom setting.  Jill countered my claim stating that she is finding the opposite.  She found in online classroom students are more likely to sit and be passive learners not willing to share as often as in the classroom. Melinda brought up an excellent point, often these tools can reduce some of the anxieties that students have.  A tool like Flipgrid could allow students multiple chances to redo their response until it was something that they were comfortable with sharing.

Another post that Nancy and Amanda directed us to is George Couros‘s Myths of Technology Series specifically the myth That Technology Equals Engagement.  I found this interesting as it gives validity to both sides of the debate.  Often we hear that students are so engaged when they are using technology.  As educators, we need to recognize the difference between “engagement” and “novelty”.  As educators, we need to view this from a different lens. We need to move from engaging students to empowering them.  George highlights the difference between compliance, engagement, and empowerment.

  • Compliance – Do this because I told you.
  • Engagement – Do this because you are excited.
  • Empowerment – Do this because you have the power to do something meaningful for yourself.

In conclusion, technology needs to be used as a tool FOR learning, and must have a purpose. The debate was able to highlight both sides of the argument.  Being so pro-technology in the classroom I believe it is important educators try to understand why some teachers are reluctant to use the technology in the classroom.  Trevor and Matt did a great job of highlighting these pieces.

My mind has slightly changed, I will always promote the use of technology in responsible ways in the classroom, but will be more mindful when I do.

I leave you with this quote from George’s series of myths.

If we can develop meaningful learning opportunities that empower our students to make a difference, our impact will go beyond their time they spent in our classrooms.  Technology alone will never provide this.

– George Couros

A Day in the Life of a Instructional Technology Consultant

My Technology-Infused Traditional COVID-19  Day

My day with technology has altered a fair bit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is how I interact with technology for most of my day.  Since I am working from home my day often starts with touching base with my colleagues on Microsoft Teams.  It operates as our virtual staff room.  I then meet with my coordinator and the other two instructional technology consultants and we make a plan for the day to help support teachers with supplemental learning.  Being a Microsoft based school division we use the Microsoft 365 online suite that contains the traditional Word, PowerPoint, Excel, but also more unknown tools such as Stream, Sway, and Forms.   Often I will have tasks such as developing a guide for teachers to follow or creating a quick video that teachers can refer to regarding a certain app or feature that our division is promoting, all while searching and looking at teacher’s needs and wants.  We have to be proactive in our planning to support teachers at this time.  Part of my job is responding to the teacher’s specific needs.  I also field a lot of questions and support requests from teachers that are looking for support with Microsoft Teams and how to best implement the program with their students.  We are also currently looking ahead to the next school year and beginning to prepare our end of year technology responsibilities to continue in the fall.

Currently, our school division has rolled out online Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).  These areas provide our teachers an hour a week to meet together and discuss, and collaborate in any way that they need.  These areas are a great way for our teachers to connect with one another as many of them do not get the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers.  Hopefully, the ability to connect with others continues after COVID-19 ends.

My Technology-Infused Traditional Non-COVID-19  Day

Prior to COVID-19 my days would consist of me going to schools and working with teachers, and infusing technology in what the teachers are already doing in their classroom.  This is how I would imagine that people would think about my job.

Our Instructional Technology Team follows the ISTE standards when we are working with teachers both during the pandemic and prior to the pandemic.  These standards are:

Each one of these outcomes features a video series for each one of the outcomes and each learning goals. We try hard to use these standards and curriculum standards as the foundation for all the lessons that we use with teachers.  More in-depth, I often do a lot of coding with students, through Hour of Code, and Scratch.  We are also diving into robotics specifically with the Micro:Bits, Spheros, mBots, Makey Makeys, and Ozobots.  Teachers will request that I come out to their classrooms and ask that I support them in these areas using these tools. Part of my everyday job is to also support and help troubleshoot with teachers during reporting times.

How do I use Technology Personally?

Personally, I use technology to connect with friends, whether it be by connecting through gaming with them.  I also use many different social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.  For professional growth, I use Twitter as my main platform.  I enjoy developing my personal learning network (PLN), connecting with other educators, and participating in Twitter chats.

Amanda Brace posted on Twitter asking how many apps people have been using since the start of the workday.  I decided to make a list of all the apps that  I used on a daily basis.  I am sure there is more, but I tried to write them down as I was using them.  My grand total was 26 different applications that I have accessed in the past 8 hours.

My screentime has definitely gone up over the past 7 weeks, but these times have provided me to grow as an educator by participating in webinars and connecting with others.  Hopefully this connection continues after COVID-19.

ECI832 Major Project Wrap Up: Curtis Bourassa EdTech Reviews

Over the course of the semester, I have created and curated a project that allowed me to explore three apps TikTok, Seesaw and Wakelet. In each of the apps, I provided an overview of the app, a look at the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, a personal review, and educational review, key features, and additional resources.

My journey started by jumping right into TikTok.  I discovered that TikTok was a great way to waste time, as it was so easy to be immersed in the short videos.  I researched the privacy policy in-depth for TikTok due to the controversy that surrounds the app.  I provided a personal review of the app, created a summary of the personal review on an infographic that I had created. For the educational review, I took research that I had found online about how educators are using the tool in the classroom setting, as well as how teachers are using it for professional growth.  I finalized the review of the app with some key features that are found within TikTok, and some additional resources with a link to a Wakelet collection of some of the articles that I have studied.

My journey with Seesaw.  Seesaw was an app that I was using prior to the course, but I was not utilizing it to the best of my ability. Again, I worked through all the parts of my project.  One of the major highlights of this project was my ability to speak to two educators and one tech coach from Texas on how they are implementing this app in their schools or school districts. I also became a Seesaw Ambassador during this semester.  This allowed me with the inside scoop of everything Seesaw, and ultimately has assisted in my support for teachers during this pandemic.  The school division has ultimately named me as the Seesaw go-to person for remote-learning.

Wakelet.  Wakelet is an app that I was using occasionally before the course.  But I did not use the app to its full potential.  I held a meeting with Dean Vendramin on how he implements Wakelet in his high school classroom.  This was the highlight of my study with Wakelet.  Dean provided many thoughtful ideas on how to implement the app in the classroom and how it is important that we use tools to curate knowledge, but also have for students to help them read laterally.

Check out the website that I have created for my final project.  Or for an overview check out the vlog that was created with Dean Vendramin and Matteo Di Muro For a quick overview of my website that I have created.

Major Project Update: Seesaw Interviews with Leigh Tremblay and Sarah Ross

Over the course of my project, I wanted to interview classroom teachers on how they are implementing Seesaw, Wakelet, and TikTok in the classroom.  I had the opportunity to interview both Leigh Tremblay and Sarah Ross on their use of Seesaw in their classrooms.

I believe that it is important to get classroom opinions on how to implement these tools into the classroom.  Both Sarah and Leigh give a great perspective on how to implement Seesaw in the classroom at two different grade levels.  A grade 4/5 class and a grade 1 class.

Leigh speaks of engaging parents in her classroom by using Seesaw and the importance of building those relationships in the school and classroom. Sarah speaks to how she is engaging students with the app, and how she is implementing the program with the blended-learning project she is doing for her ECI832 master’s project.

Check out how these two great teachers are implementing Seesaw into their classrooms.

Interview with Leigh Tremblay

 Interview with Sarah Ross

Moral, Ethical and Legal Issues in Technology in Education

As an instructional technology consultant, much of my job revolves around the implementation of technology in education.  Our Instructional Technology team in the past year has tried to do a lot in the sense of promoting the importance of protecting student privacy and looking at copyright.

Our division has strongly encouraged teachers to use specific programs and digital resources for our students in order to protect student privacy.  For example, our school division has enrolled in Seesaw for Schools.  Many teachers in our school division were previously using Seesaw in their classrooms as a communication tool and a digital portfolio tool.  However, even though Seesaw has a great reputation in the world of education our school division found value in signing up for Seesaw for Schools as you are able to store data in Canada, not in the United States.

In my teaching practice, it is very important that parents understand the programs that their students are using.  It is important that we send home permission forms to parents to give them information on the applications and the programs used at the school.  In my opinion, the media release form and the current acceptable use policy is not good enough for parents and students. Often we try out new tools and parents need to be informed.

Copyright has also become a center of attention for our school division.  We have provided professional development around the topic of copyright and fair dealing.  Schools have to be ever more cautious when showing movies or having movie nights at their school. For example, a school in California was fined for a screening of Disney’s “Lion King”.   Many people do not realize that when you show movies or film outside of a home you need to have permission to do so as it is considered a public performance.  Our school division has purchased a license for a program called Criterion on Demand. A subscription to their services provides film-rights to the Canadian non-theatrical market. It features more than 1500 titles.  This service provides teachers in our school division to legally show films, as we encourage our teachers to not use Netflix or other streaming services in the classroom.

As a was researching for my 5-minute video on Moral, Ethical, and Legal regarding Technology in Education.  I began to do more research on fair dealing and what fair dealing is.  According to fair dealing recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works are beneficial for society. People can use fair dealing for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting.  It is important to consider several factors, the amount that you are copying, who you are copying to, and whether or not the copying might have a detrimental effect on potential sales of the original work.

One tool I like to showcase to teachers is something called the fair dealing decision tool.  This website allows teachers, “to decide whether ‘fair dealing’ permits classroom use of print materials, artistic works, or audiovisual materials without getting copyright permission.  Teachers can look up, consumables, articles, books, artistic work, poems or musical scores, newspaper articles, reference books, audiovisual, or other material to learn how much they can legally use in the classroom.

To learn more about moral, ethical and legal issues in the classroom. Check out my video below.

What Does it Mean to be Literate?

When we discuss literacy we often think about reading and writing.  However,  there are other ways that we can be literate.  Common Sense Media states that media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.  We are all exposed to forms of media literacy, TV, internet, radio, newspapers, text messages, memes, videos, social media, video games, advertising.

Furthermore, we can view literacy as Christine quotes Couros and Hildebrandt in her video What are the New and Emerging Challenges of Literacy in a “Fake News” World?

“If we difine literacy as the ability to read (or interpret) the world around us, then digital literacy should not be thought of as requiring a separate set of skills. Rather, digital literacy adds a layer to traditional literacy, enabling us to read or interpret the connected reality we live.”

Media Smarts highlights its definition of media and digital literacies. Media Smarts believes that digital literacy involves enabling youth to participate in wise, safe and ethical ways.  Whereas, media literacy focuses on youth to be critically engaged consumers of media. Media Smarts has an interesting graphic that shows the blending of the two literacies together.

Rob highlights in his video New and Emerging Challenges in a Fake News World the differences between misinformation and disinformation.  Misinformation is inaccurate information that is spread intentionally or unintentionally. Whereas, disinformation is inaccurate information meant to mislead.  This is important for students to understand.  Society often is becoming duped to believe false information.

Common Sense Media provides some key questions to ask when teaching media literacy:

  • Who created this?
  • Why did they make it?
  • Who is the message for?
  • What techniques are being used to make this message credible or believable?
  • What details were left out, and why?
  • How did the message make you feel?

Rob shared an interesting photo found on First Draft News discussing the different types of Misinformation and Disinformation.  These different types of information we need to teach students to recognize. Students need to be wary of the types of information and know the skills to decipher some of these tricky situations.

In my colleague Nancy’s video, New Challenges of Literacy in a Fake News World she states, ” What you see in your feed is very likely different than the person next to you”.  Social media is set up to filter news based on AI.  Furthermore, Nancy highlights, social media companies will try to share relevant, engaging content to try to get as many impressions as possible such as likes, comments, and shares.

Due to the recent events that are occurring in our world (COVID-19), we must be practicing media literacy skills, modeling for our students (when we can). Dean Vendramin as part of his major project is highlighting the importance of these media literacy skills. Dean has created some fact-checking tools and a CRAP Navigation Information Sheet.  Dean highlights many of the different pieces and resources within his major project that supplement his major learning project.  These tools he highlights include Snopes, Polifactcheck, and CanadaFactCheck.

A few weeks ago Dean and I had a conversation around the importance of spotting fake news and how we teach students how to do this.  It is of the utmost importance that we are practicing and modeling these skills so that students can use these critical skills in society.

 *As I write this amid a Global Pandemic and a state of emergency over COVID-19.  I am fearful of the people who are spreading misinformation and disinformation over the virus.  This is not only harmful to the people who believe this content but also for those who take in the media, but for the surrounding people as well.  In the current state, Facebook and YouTube do not have the staff to keep up with the flagging and reporting of misinformation and disinformation and they are currently relying on AI to flag fake news.  Now it will fall on to the user to decipher what is true and what is false.

Major Project Update: Untimely Technology Difficulties

Hi Everyone,

If you have been following my digital project you will know that I have been working on creating an in-depth guide to three apps that I have been studying.  Seesaw, Wakelet, and TikTok.

Yesterday evening I had a conversation with Elizabeth Benno, a Digital Literacy Coach from Lovejoy ISD.  Elizabeth is a Seesaw Ambassador and she speaks all over Texas on how to integrate technology in the classroom.  I met Elizabeth in a Seesaw PD Session that she held in Austin, Texas in February 2020.  Now, due to some technical glitches on my behalf, I was unable to get the recording on the audio or the video from my conversation with Elizabeth so my blog post will have to do for this week’s major update.

Below summarizes some key points of our conversation that we had in our great discussion all around how to integrate Seesaw in the classroom.

How are teachers using Seesaw in the classroom?

Some of the ways that teachers are using Seesaw in the classroom is to provide a glimpse into what is going on in the student’s day.  Some teachers may just take a picture and post that picture to the student’s learning journal.  Some of the teachers that Elizabeth is working with also use Seesaw as a platform to support the Global Read Aloud Project.  Students are able to share their learning through their learning journals and it can be expanded to connect with other classrooms through Seesaw’s built-in blog.  In Lovejoy ISD, Elizabeth has stated that their goal for Seesaw is the following. “Teachers will have at least one form of evidence for each outcome, recorded and documented in Seesaw”.

  • Elizabeth has shared that teachers begin by using Seesaw to share the gems as to what is going on in the classroom.
  • Global read aloud
  • School District has a goal that every standard will have evidence in Seesaw.

2. How can we make connections with others using Seesaw?

Seesaw allows us to connect up to 10 family members to one student’s blog.  This is a powerful tool that we can use to extend the ability for our students to have an audience.  Elizabeth talked about how using Seesaw for Schools allowed administrators to the ability to comment on student work.  This allows for collaboration and relationship building within the school.

One of the highlights of Seesaw is the ability to use the classroom blog feature.  Seesaw blogs are a safe way to interact with and connect with other classes.  These are teacher moderated, can be set to public blogs or password-protected blogs.  Once a teacher signs up for blogs you can connect to other classrooms using Seesaw Blogs.  This is a powerful took that Elizabeth uses with the teachers she works with to connect with others for the Global Read Aloud Project.

3. How can teachers get started with Seesaw and What are Some Ideas to Dive Deeper with?

The starting place for teachers is to get them to highlight some of the great things that are happening in the classroom.  This could be as simple as taking pictures of the student’s work.  However, soon teachers need to relinquish this control and give students control over their own student portfolios.  Seesaw is most powerful when students take control of their work.

Elizabeth shared a great story and lesson around a Global Classroom Project that she initiated with a teacher in her school district in Texas, a teacher in Canada and a teacher in New Zealand.  In this experience, the students educated each other on their interests and parts of their culture. This project inspired students to educate each other on different games, sports teams, among many other differences.

4. What is the Difference between Seesaw for Schools and the Free Version of Seesaw?

Seesaw for Schools and Seesaw Plus allow you access to the skills portion students achieve.  The skills section is a great tool that allows educators to provide students with a mark on a 3-6 point scale.  Elizabeth highlighted that since Seesaw for Schools the digital portfolio follows the student from year to year.  The teacher could look in the past to view if a student struggled in a certain standard/outcome or indicator.  This is a great tool to see growth over the years, or to identify areas that students need assistance in.

Furthermore, students have access to drafts in Seesaw.  This allows students to save work in progress and finish it later.  This is a premium feature only available in Seesaw for Schools and Seesaw Plus.

Seesaw for Schools offers regional data storage options which were very important to my school division’s decision to purchase Seesaw for Schools. This means that data that is entered into Seesaw is held in Canada, rather than the United States. It is also integrated with our Student Information System (SIS).

5. How do you engage parents with Seesaw?

This starts early.  Have a Seesaw station at an open house or meet the teacher night early in the year, help parents get on Seesaw, learn about Seesaw.  By getting parents on board with Seesaw early in the school year provides the opportunity for parents to learn how Seesaw works.  Be sure to send home the highlights of your students as parents love to see what their children are doing at school.

Role of DigCit Today and in the Future

What Role Does Digital Citizenship Play in Education?

What role do schools and teachers play when it comes to teaching about digital citizenship? As we know it, schools and teachers need to play a role in developing and preparing students to become digital citizens.  In Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt state:

Supporting students at all grade levels and through all subjects to learn appropriate and responsible online behaviour through the integration of digital citizenship instruction will help ensure that children and youth in the digital age become responsible and principled digital citizens, capable of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint, respecting intellectual property boundaries and protecting their privacy online. Digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and understood when taught in context through supported online practice and real-life examples and experiences.

– Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt

On March 3rd, we did an important activity to answer the question, what characteristics does a digital citizen have?  We were tasked with the job of choosing the age/grade of a student and then discussing digital citizenship characteristics that we thought would be important for that student to know at their specific age/grade.  We also looked at the supports, steps, and processes that would support the students and teachers in assisting them to reach those characteristics. This activity allowed us to realize how we can embed the important teachings and lessons of digital citizenship in our lessons. However, I also am beginning to really understand the broadness of the topic of digital citizenship.  On something so broad it can be overwhelming for teachers to comprehend and as a result could turn them off of teaching about digital citizenship.

Where do Teachers Start When Teaching Digital Citizenship?

If teachers are new to teaching about digital citizenship I believe that it is important that teachers reach out for support from others, or to look at how to incorporate curricula that are already created.  Some great resources that teachers can look into include:

  • Commonsense Media – This resource provides teachers with lessons at their grade level on topics that are suitable for what they need to know at that age.
  • Be Internet Awesome – A curriculum that teachers digital safety fundamentals, it is also paired with an interactive game called Interland.
  • Media Smarts – a Canadian non-profit for digital and media literacy.  Find lesson plans and resources related to digital and media literacy.

I believe that these resources provide opportunities for educators to determine what is important at certain age levels.   I believe that the difficulty in implementing digital citizenship will be integrating it into what classrooms are already covering.

What are Important Skills I Would Teach?

I believe that some of the important skills are used in Mike Ribble’s Framework, on the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  In addition, ISTE also provides student standards one of which highlights their goals for digital citizenship.  Much of my work as an Instructional Technology Consultant is framed around these standards.  The skills include:

  • Students manage their digital identities and recognize the permanence of their actions.
  • Engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behaviour when using technology.
  • Understanding and respect the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
  • Manage personal data, and are aware of how the data is used to track their navigations online.

However,   Vicki Davis also known as the coolcatteacher on Twitter highlights her approach to Digital Citizenship.  She breaks it down into two categories, Proactive Knowledge and Experiential Knowledge. Proactive Knowledge Davis breaks down into the 9 Key Ps.  Proactive knowledge is the skills that we need to teach students to be knowledgeable about in navigating their online worlds.  However, students need the experiential knowledge experience to become effective digital citizens as talking is not enough.

The 9 Key Ps:

  1. Passwords
  2. Private Information
  3. Personal Information
  4. Photographs
  5. Property
  6. Permission
  7. Protection
  8. Professionalism
  9. Personal Brand

Vicki Davis highlights some of the activities for experiential learning, such as using websites such as Snopes, to allow students to become detectives and determine if the information is true, false, or a scam.  She also has students expose common scams and allows them to teach others to now fall for the common scams.

Daniel, and Brad and Shelby’s videos highlighted the importance of teaching students how to be media literate.  Daniel highlights 10 questions a media literate person should ask:

Shelby and Brad also highlight a tool when teaching students to become media literate.  Their tool is IMVAIN.  This tool also encourages students to question their sources of information.

Digital Citizenship of the Future

One of the articles shared by Amanda in my ECI832 class, Digital Citizenship is the New Citizenship, written by Nicole Krueger highlights, “Rather than just warning young people about online risks or trying to curtail their activities, educators are realizing the importance of helping students leverage the power of digital media to work toward social justice and equity”.  Furthermore, Krueger highlights that students are able to civically participate by voting online, signing petitions, and donating to a cause.

When addressing digital citizenship in the future I believe that it should be based on Joel Westheimer’s three types of citizens, personally responsible citizen, participatory citizen, and justice-orientated citizen.  Although Westheimer did not have a digital framework when he developed the definition.  The framework is just as relevant in the digital sense.  

Our goal as educators needs to stop separating citizenship and digital citizenship.  These terms are synonymous.  By separating the terms we encourage students to have two separate lives, digital life, and physical life.  Our role as educators is the infuse these terms together to promote students to use digital media in appropriate ways in all aspects of their lives.