Cell phones…useful technological tool or a distraction?

For our blog post this week, we were given the opportunity to write about an article or articles we read and discuss our reactions to them. Luckily for me, I came across a short article which proved to be very interesting. If you have not yet read, I recently tweeted an article posted from CTV News about a Toronto middle school banning the use of cell phones within classrooms and in the hallways. When I first came across this article, I read it immediately as the title alone caught my attention. The article states,

“Since September, students have been prohibited from texting, taking photos or signing into social media over the school’s lunch hour”.

Following this statement, the article notes that the use of cell phones may be permitted where a cell phone may be “helpful” to the task at hand, which includes a school activity or a specific lesson.

After reading this article, I felt somewhat torn about the situation. I understand the real life struggle that teachers and instructors face with permitting the use of cellphones in schools. It is evident that there are both pros and cons for allowing the use of cell phones within the classroom and now a days, many students own cell phones, starting at a young age. I’m sure we can all agree that it is very easy to become distracted by our cell phones. Personally, I use my cell phone for almost everything. From paying bills online, texting, taking photos and exploring social media, it is difficult for me to put my phone down and remember that moderation is key when it comes to the use of technology. In my opinion, whether or not the use of cell phones is permitted in the classroom depends entirely on the classroom teacher/instructor. However, it is encouraging to know that there are ways cell phones may be put to good use in the classroom. Rather than exhausting ourselves while “fighting the good fight and asking students to put their phones away during class”, consider the different ways technological devices, like cellphones may be used during class time. Recently, my colleague Jayme-Lee tweeted an article about “Five Ways Students Can Use Their Cell Phones in the Classroom”. Within this article, it provides a list of 5 digital resources that includes Kahoot, Quizizz, Pear Deck, Google Slides Q & A and Socrative. These resources are engaging, fun, encourages team work, and are effective for examining informational content. Therefore, if you find yourself in the position of picking battles with your students about the use of cell phones, remember that cell phones do have potential to be used for learning, as long as it is in a controlled and teacher-lead environment.

Since taking online classes with Alec and Katia, I learned about many digital resources available to both teachers and students to assist with learning. Professionally, I have grown and am much more open to technology than ever before. As an adult, I enjoy taking online classes. I am able to learn and communicate online with fantastic individuals, many within the same profession as me. Furthermore, I am able to collaborate from the comfort of my own home. As a teacher, I also believe in the concept of Blended Learning. I appreciate the combination of face-to-face instruction with my students while using technology to assist in my everyday teaching. When implemented effectively, a blended learning program can be beneficial and serve several purposes:

1) Institutions have the potential to manage instructional and facility resources more efficiently, teaching more students within a semester.
2) This approach is beneficial for students, providing the convenience and flexibility associated with online learning, freeing up time for work, family obligations or extra-curricular activities.
3) Blended learning develops a skill set for students that otherwise would not be possible in exclusive face-to-face instruction. Skills include digital citizenship, information management skills, self-directed learning, and web research and collaboration skills.

Therefore, what are your thoughts regarding the use of cell phones in the classroom? In your experience, do you agree we can use them to our advantage to assist in learning or do you feel they are a distraction? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic!

Thanks for stopping by!


Digital resources for online and blended learning

For this week’s assignment, we were asked to reflect on chapter 7 of Bates’ textbook. Within sections 7.1-7.4 and 7.7, Bates’ speaks about the pedagogical differences involving media and discusses methods for deciding which media to use when teaching. We were also encouraged to reflect upon our own experiences with learning from digital sources. After reading Bates’ text, I realized the importance of digital sources but also its usage for learning. Before integrating digital resources, a particular purpose of the exercise should be considered, before being utilized.

As listed in Bates’ text, there are 5 critical questions that need to be reviewed about teaching and learning before the teacher/instructor decides which form of media to select. By doing this, the teacher/instructor is able to determine which form of media (text, audio, video, computing and social media) will be most effective in regards to the representation of content and the development of skills.

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

Throughout my schooling experience (specifically K-12), I do not recall many instances when I worked with technology and media. My only exposure to technology was practicing my typing skills using a desktop computer. Sometimes, I got to play Oregon Trail. When research for an assignment was required, the internet was not an immediate source used to collect data. Instead, I was encouraged to use the many books found within our school library. At this point in time, technology and media was very limited. In fact, it wasn’t until my first year of university that I began using technology and media for learning.

However, with technology advancing every day and technology and media available at our fingertips, there are many reasons why teachers should and need to be incorporating technology into the classroom. Today’s technology sources provide many benefits to students, especially for those who require additional support for learning. Technology allows teachers to experience a variety of learning styles, encourages students to collaborate and share, to be actively engaged and more motivated to learn and to gain responsibility and independence. But above all, exposure to technology and media within schools is helping to prepare students for the real world in which they live. With technology entwined in our everyday lives, it is apparent that students are exposed to technology, and what better way to learn about technology and media than in schools where teachers can focus on the importance of digital citizenship and internet safety!

As a primary teacher, I make a solid effort to integrate a variety of digital resources (print, audio and visual) into my daily teaching. Like my peer Lorraine, I enjoy playing Kahoot with my students. Kahoot is an online resource which is very effective for examining content. The students enjoy playing Kahoot because it is fun and engaging. Although Kahoot can create somewhat of a competitive environment, it also encourages cooperation.

Bates’ encourages teachers/instructors to experiment with a variety of digital resources as experimenting with digital resources will produce different learning experiences. However, this process is often a challenge depending on the task at hand and the diverse levels of experience my students have working with technology. For some, signing into their personal account can be a difficult process. Before I integrate technology, I search for digital resources that will assist me in achieving particular goals or learning outcomes. Through this process, I have learned that technology and media are extremely beneficial for learning. However, it is only effective when it is used appropriately and in moderation. Although working with technology creates an intriguing learning experience for both teachers and students, it is important to note that “face-to-face teaching should also be considered a medium”. Furthermore, it is important to take the time to research the digital resources you intend to use before applying them. According to Bates’ “Different media have different potential or ‘affordances’ for different types of learning”. I strongly agree with this statement for the reason that if we take time to research specific purposes of digital resources, we can feel confident while working with technology and trust that the resources we have selected will contribute towards meeting specific learning outcomes, content and skills involved.

What are your learning preferences when it comes to digital resources? What digital resources have proven to be effective for you and your students? Please share as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Having fun with GoAnimate!

Like my classmate Benita Struik, I decided to create an animation video using GoAnimate to provide a review/tutorial of this creation tool. This was my first experience using GoAnimate. I have always wanted to try this tool and I feel it has great potential to assist with learning in my Grade 3/4 classroom. In the past, I have attempted to create videos using VideoScribe but found GoAnimate to be much more simple to navigate and user-friendly. Within this video, I explain how simple it was to sign up for GoAnimate as well as the strengths and weaknesses this online creation has to offer. Based on my recent experience, GoAnimate can be a very useful tool for learning. I hope you enjoy my video everyone! I do apologize in advance if the sound quality is not great.

I would like to note that I did have some difficulty posting my whiteboard animation video to my blog. When using the 14 day free trial, you are unable to share/export your videos. Therefore, in order to share my short video, I used a program called Screencast-O-Matic. This online tool allowed me to record my computer screen and then upload my recording to YouTube.

Please feel free to share your thoughts!