Can it be? Is it already that time? I feel as though we just began this course, and yet we have covered so much in such a short amount of time. I have truly enjoyed the debates every week, particularly because they made me reconsider – literally every time – how I thought about a specific controversial topic in the realm of educational technology. It has been fun, challenging, and it went by so fast. Yet here we are!
For my final summary, I decided to try out a Stop-Motion project. Please do not judge the primary drawing and colouring skills; I am no artist, and have never been a particularly visual learner. I had my mind set, though, on what I wanted to do, so my lack of innate skills would not hold me back!
It’s a story of a girl named Sceptique (yes, a really obvious play on skeptic…). Before I started taking classes from Alec and Katia, I was a real skeptic when it came to technology in the classroom. My past frustrations and misunderstandings had a negative impact on the way I viewed edtech. After EC&I 831 in the winter semester, however, my viewpoint changed, and I came into this class with a more open mind. I was still skeptical about certain things (particularly social media and childhood… until I argued that it was a good thing!), but then the debates really made me question everything. So I decided to broach the arguments in the debates that had a real impact on me and my teaching. These elements are the ones that made me reflect on what I thought was true, and helped me realize that perhaps my opinions at the start were not what they should have been. They have encouraged me to use technology (sometimes even more cautiously) for my lessons and units, as well as look at the entire picture of edtech, including things I had never thought of before (corporations anyone?). Nothing is black and white, and a balanced approach to all of these controversial topics is essential. This is what I realized throughout the course; and this becomes the moral of the following story.
Enjoy this summary of the debates we have seen thus far, and if you so choose, you can read the script below. It has been a joy learning with all of you over this semester, and I really appreciate everything Alec and Katia have set up for us in this short amount of time!
See you all in the fall semester, hopefully!
Once upon a time, in a not so distance past, there lived a traveler name Sceptique, whose search of EdTech was being delivered at last. She had been traveling for years, unsure of where to go, when she finally found the land of EC&I 830, and her knowledge began to grow.
It all began through the forest of SAMR, where tech as a learning enhancement was on display. Strolling through this forest of controversy, our traveler came upon two warriors without delay.
“Begone” thundered Warrior A to Warrior D, “Tech is here to stay.”
“But you must know, Warrior A, tech is the reason for foul play. It is a distraction, time waste, and causes more difficulties than I can even say”
“These are problems we see every day, Warrior D. They are not because of technology. Tech helps bridge the gap for those who need it, and engages learners in their daily tasks, so beat it!”
“Warrior A, you know not of the upfront cost, nor of the lack of training offered for those using it. It is not worth the risk, when it never works and nobody knows how to fix it!”
The debate ensued, and Sceptique was but along for the ride. Enjoying the warriors lament to another, she finally decides:
“Warrior D, you make some great arguments, I do agree. However, Warrior A, I can’t deny that tech has become a classroom mainstay. Difficult as this may be, Warrior A, please come with me”
So Sceptique and Warrior A continue through the forest of SAMR, crossing soon into Google-Me, a land full of glamour.
Leaving the forest of SAMR, Sceptique comes upon a beautiful ocean view. Then she notices a fish… or two!
“Hello fish” she said, “How are you today?”
“Not well, not well!” Said Fish D “Our school is not teaching us anything that can be googled, you see”
“Oh Fish D,” responded Fish A “don’t you know Google isn’t always great? It limits creativity, and makes our knowledge stagnate. We remember less than before, and it gives us a false sense of knowledge once more”
“What an exaggeration, Fish A! Basic facts that can be googled HAVE to stay! Memorization in our school is a very important tool. We need this foundation before we can think deeper, and grow our wealth of information much steeper!”
“But Fish D, don’t you see, we should teach our kids to wonder and create. They should be practicing the thought-process, and not just the first search engine results, my dear classmate!”
The debate raged on, as Sceptique saw, and she interjected, to a small hurrah.
“Oh Fish A and Fish D, your points are valid, I do agree, but I was wondering if you, Fish D, would come with me?”
And so Fish D joined our traveler as they began to flee. But before they could leave the land of Google-Me, they came across two turtles arguing about technology.
“Turtle D, you know the studies are true. Tech results in negative physical and mental effects, for both me and you.”
“But Turtle A, you are not considering the positives of technology! The healthy apps, the open ed movement, and growing PLNs are just a few of them, you see.”
“It all depends how you use it’ said Turtle A ‘and now our society is not using them as they should, okay? It is leading to obesity, the awful side effects of cyber bullying, and let’s not forget anxiety.”
“You are blaming the tool, Turtle A, and not the real problem: the parenting and education of today”
Sceptique saw both sides to be true, but asked that Turtle A join her and her crew. So the group left the land of Google-Me, to reach Mount Share, all Sceptique and her three.
As the companions moved through Mount Share, they came upon two Rams arguing about things that are unfair.
Ram A was telling Ram D: “Sharing in schools is unfair, believe you me. It risks exposure and may change opportunities in the future, can’t you see?”
“Embrace the future, my friend. There is value to sharing and the thought-process in the end. A good digital footprint and being a good digital citizen can prepare students for the world we are living in.”
“Ram D, there are no guidelines teaching them how to be. Oversharing and danger are by products of this, you will see!”
“Perhaps, Ram A, but they are learning opportunities for children these days”
As the argument progressed, Sceptique took a side and expressed: “It is time to live in the now. Ram D, please come with me and take a bow”
Sceptique then continued through Mount Share and with the four members of her crew, she came upon a mystical city of childhood (atchoo!)
City of Childhood scene:
Arriving in the city, the travelers came upon two taxis saying things that were awfully witty.
“I think technology is a force for equity, with all the accessible online courses and learning opportunities”.
Taxi D answered: “But not all societies are getting what they need. Is that not a part of equity?”
“Yes it is, but so is assistive technology, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, Kurzweil, smart pens, and medical robots, obviously!”
“Okay, but what about the digital divide? Lack of access? Or the lack of inclusivity for all disabilities?” Taxi D chided.
Both taxis continued to debate, with Sceptique choosing Taxi D to join her and her mates.
Continuing through this city of controversy, the group came upon two children, arguing about social media beside a tree.
The little girl began by agreeing that social media is ruining childhood, for the time being.
But the boy replied “Stop living in the past like our parents, social media has a lot of benefits inherent. Kids are less lonely now, have a sense of belonging, strong friendships, and a voice too. Their learning NEW skills that will be essential for the future, it’s a real breakthrough!”
The little girl remained suspicious. “There is just too much cyberbullying, health problems, pressure, and scrutiny; it’s just vicious! Kids are maturing too quickly and cheated out of life skills. Social media is ruining their childhood, for unimportant thrills!”
As the kids continued to fight, Sceptique learned some new insight. She may not necessarily agree, but she said to the little girl “Please join me”
The group all together left the City of Childhood, to arrive at the EC&I classroom, their final destination, for good.
Walking into the EC&I classroom, the group sees two pencils arguing about the corporate interests involved in public education; how could that be?
“It’s all about the money, Pencil B. Corporations care about the bottom line, can’t you see? Pepsi, coke, and let’s not mention Pearson, all have relationships with our education.”
“Yes, that’s true, but critical friendships are important for education to pull through. We don’t get enough funding, and these mutually beneficial relationships with aligned goals and curricula are an important way to get resources unending!”
“At what cost, Pencil B? So they can control our testing and results, for everyone to see?”
The debate pursued, and it being the closest one yet, Sceptique thought awhile before asking Pencil B to join her and all her duets. As all the debates closed, Sceptique looked at her group of extreme personalities, and finally disclosed.
“Although you won your debates, that is true, fact is, extremes do not rule. Having a balanced approach and seeing both sides is truly the only way one should decide. That being said, I must ask, that all previous debaters come back at last”
So all the warriors, fish, turtles, rams, taxis, kids, and pencils came back, giving Sceptique all the tools and information she needs to make decisions about technology in her own little backpack.
And they all lived happily – debatably – ever after.
(Of course, it is not really the end. Merely the beginning).