Blog: Learning with Technology #EDUC5101g

Link to Final Paper (in draft format) and comments.
Thanks everyone 🙂

“For more info about the video:

This video presents a glimpse of what the current situation is in terms of information, technology and knowledge generation around the world.   It presents a situation.  As we discussed, if a “problem” is the “gap” or distance between a current existing situation and a different maybe more desirable one, then what you need to do here, is to look at this and first of all decide if “education” as a social project in its current form, meets its own objectives.  Is it and will it be relevant to it’s own context (the current situation and it imaginable short term future)?

More specifically, if digital technology is having such an impact on all domains of human activity, how can this technology be used to help keep education relevant at all levels?

You are asked to discuss this question and try to clearly identify the associated “problems” in this forum.  Maybe start by identifying clearly what the situation is currently and then what would be a desired situation.  Following this, you should likely work on establishing what the “gap” is (and maybe even assessing if it is within the ZPD of each group?).  Each of you is asked to choose a specific perspective (thread in this forum) that you will adopt for the purpose of this activity only. Hopefully we can get a few people looking at each one?  (We will rotate the groups for the other “problem” activities so that you can experience at least four different perspectives during the course).

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Administrations
  • Politicians”

From Francois Desjardin’s class on September 15th 2014

Entry for Topic 4 –  Resistance to change – Learner’s Perspective

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 3.30.29 PM

Given that:

  1. Overwhelming literature states that systemic change is sweeping education worldwide.
  2. Google search: resistance to change in education: About 54,400,000 results (0.30 seconds)
  3. Entire domains of study are focused on Educational Change: and adoption of innovation in education.
  1. What change is education is so massive that it is sweeping worldwide?
  2. What motivates this change now and how is that different than before?
  3. If there is widespread resistance to change – why is there resistance?

Entry for Topic 3 – Socio-economic inequity – Politician’s Perspective



From :

Social inequality is today an issue that is not disappearing, but rather a growing problem, and not just in Canada but all over the world.

The issue for education is complex with a multitude of factors to consider.  How do we deal with the differential social economic resources available to each learner? How do we provide an education or training that will offer similar results regardless of these resources? How do we consider the opportunities of the graduates from these varying backgrounds?  How can education in the broadest sense become a positive factor in reducing these inequalities in order to foster the development of a community of more equal opportunities for all?

This is not intended as a reflection solely on the grand questions of social justice, but rather a more practical activity of thinking about real steps that could be taken and how the use of ubiquitous (but not equally accessed) digital technology could be leveraged for positive effects.

You are, of course, to look at this from the variety of perspectives we have already set.

Entry for Topic 2 – Standardized Testing – Administrator’s Perspective

We have all seen such cartoons (some of you have even posted them in your blogs or the discussion forum).  The idea of Standardized tests is not new, nor does it seem to be going away.  In order for us to consider the kind of effect current use of digital technology has on these tests as well as how “we” can leverage these technologies to effect positive change, I would like you to first read this (old)  article by James Popham:

Popham,  W. J. (1999). Why Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Educational Quality,  Educational Leadership, Vol 56, No 6, Pages 8-15

Then, considering today’s situation, whether in the school system or in a broader sense, the current accreditations strategies and norms used in many industries and professions, in teams, you will attempt to propose possible solutions to this, but with the explicit consideration that digital technology is a major factor at all levels.

How can technology be used to help transform “standardized assessment” practices?

From these perspectives:

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Administrations
  • Politicians

We created a slidedeck and a screencast for this topic. Click HERE  for a link to separate page for comments and discussions with students.

Our Screencast

Our Slidedeck

Entry for Topic 1 -Curriculum Relevance – Parent’s Perspective

This week we worked collaboratively to explore the parent’s view on the role of technology in the lives of their children. In our initial breakout groups, we took an extremely positive view of the parent’s perspective. (As we found out later in our class discussion!) We wrote:

“How do we aid our children’s learning to demonstrate good character and become empathic global citizens in online and offline interactions? Does the school environment support the individual current and long term needs of my child? (learning styles, use of tech, digital citizenship, BYOD etc.) How do we support their educational experience to help them develop independence and have a variety of career options to lead successful and fulfilling lives today and tomorrow? “

In our follow-up, we realized that perhaps we took a rather “rosy-coloured” perspective where NOT ALL (ahem) parents are completely accepting of technology in the lives of their children. Although, some may share this perspective, a more truthful suggestion might be that not all parents (and teachers or anyone else in society) is completely convinced of the worthiness of these disruptive and potentially distracting technological tools in the classroom. It is our job as educators to showcase the potential of technology to aid individualized learning, meet and exceed learning goals through rich pedagogies, develop creativity, aid engagement and champion their relevance in education today, in higher education and towards a fulfilling career. Tools like mobile phones and tablets can have a place to aid learning in the classroom when combined with good teaching practice. We have to show them how technology can aid learning for school, prepare themselves to today’s and tomorrow’s world but critically aid the communication process between home and school and when appropriate global partners. Parents have to feel that their role in their child’s education is probably the most critical of all and work as partners with educators, specialists and learning professionals to provide a rich and nurturing environment for their child to learn and thrive. In short, if technology can aid learning and communication between home and school then it is worth considering.

Here is our slidedeck.

My blog entry for the Week of September 14 – 20th -Politician’s Perspective

What is situation currently?
As of 2014 in communities spanning the globe, technology of various forms and formats is now firmly entrenched in our personal, professional and social lives. However, the default culture of education is to consider critically any new ideas and changes before implementation with students. Knowledge is king (Ken Robinson states “There is one answer and it’s in the back of the book.”) and teacher knows best. This critical approach has some validity when considering that rich and relevant learning and not the latest “trend” is one core foundation of our education system. In other words, the message for students is “you’ll need this later”…in higher ed., career etc. However, this approach has to be changed as knowledge is no longer as relevant for students (Change Agent) in a “Google-filled” and ever-changing technological environment. (Lemke and Coughlin pg.54)  New skills like creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration as well as empathy and adaptability to new forms of technology are skills at a premium today. Increasingly, we have a situation where students are more knowledgeable than educators or others in positions of power or responsibility. Teachers interested in successful learning opportunities for students now need to shift away from a traditional “transmission” approach towards a more individual and learner-centered strategies. Students need opportunities to showcase their thinking in relevant creative and critical thinking tasks with teacher guidance, suggestions and ideas to diversify and expand their thinking. Educators have a vital role in creating the situation or opportunity for students to showcase their skills and aid them to make good decisions (i.e. as positive digital citizens) in face-to-face and online environments with implications for today and the future. This shifting role of the educator is within their zone of proximal development but some work needs to be done by politicians, administrators, educators, parents and perhaps even the students themselves.

If digital technology is having such an impact on all domains of human activity, how can this technology be used to help keep education relevant at all levels?

To answer this question, I would like to focus on the absence of curricular documentation, direction and leadership specific to Ontario with regard to technology. Governments in Alberta and the United Kingdom have been attempting to address and support their educational systems with the latest research, resources, support and guidance to support their learning communities in our technologically pervasive society. Both the governments of Alberta and United Kingdom also have shortcomings but by leveraging organizations like ISTE and UNESCO among their own research and partnerships, these governments have prioritized technology as an important pedagogical resource for their learners and learning communities. To answer the question posed, I argue that the changes I am suggesting would fall in the realm of the politicians and administrators as leaders. The creation of a consistently updated vision for learning and technology, reflected in curricular documentation followed most importantly, by implementation strategies and resources, will help educators and all members of learning communities in Ontario adapt to the shifting technological landscape as other like industries in society (i.e. publishing, music, literature, commerce etc.)

Here are a list of some suggestions and strategies to help politicians and administrators create a vision, updated the provincial curriculum and implement learning with technology initiatives. (in no particular order)

1. Emphasize creativity and computational thinking (especially in the elementary curriculum) through tools like robots, coding apps like Kodable, beginner programming languages like Scratch, Kodu or robotic hardware like (Beebot, Probots, Lego Mindstorms etc)  – resource from UNESCO on computational thinking – HERE
At the moment, many of our students are great consumers of content. (i.e. watching videos, playing games and accessing web pages. All of these activities, are worthy of merit and aid learning but it seems that a shift towards creative or designing will be useful in going forward. (I am speculating that creating and building are the realm of those Honour students in India and China from the Did You Know 2014 video!) After experiencing the proliferation of information (i.e. text based than as bandwidth expanded, media and video), signs point towards an increasing connected world of gadgets, colloquially known as the “internet of things.” Who is going to program and design these objects? Not sure we need to have an army of programmers from our school system as some suggest but being able to program, tinker, modify and perhaps most importantly troubleshoot and problem solve will be vital skills in our technology-embedded world.

2. Help educators create a Connected Learning environment (Ito et al. 2013) – A Connected Learning environment seeks to engage learners by adopting an any-time, any-where, any-device learning model where learning may take place in classrooms but can expand beyond. In other words, opportunities for students’ extra-curricular interests may be incorporated into curricular activities, link between home and school are available, goals and resources are transparent and easily accessible by all (students, parents, educators, administrators etc.) The 20% model of self-directed learning (famous in Google  or 3M organizations) could also be useful models. In short, providing learning goals for students can still be the vital role of the educator yet more opportunities that allow students to be creative and showcase their ideas. (i,e. play, dance, computer program, presentation, website, video etc.) help support connected learning. See this video from Pearson that illustrates connections beyond the classroom- HERE

3. Encourage self-directed learning for students and educators (traditional face to face, traditional post graduate and graduate courses, conferences, virtual conferences, MOOC’s, online learning, webinars, #mlearning (mobile learning), self-paced learning sites (SMART learning Space, Google certifications and even how to videos on YouTube. Finally, we cannot underestimate the power of Twitter for micro-PD, connections and sharing between professionals and learners. Peer to peer collaboration between colleagues (not top down, i.e. not traditional staff meetings) needs to be validated and scheduled as a vital element of an educator’s and any professionals day.

4. Promote Digital Citizenship –Embedding digital citizenship skills in all subjects for students is critical to protect and empower Ontario students (Especially with no distinct Technology Expectations in the elementary curriculum, this is especially important.)

Overall, I think that prioritizing creativity, computational thinking, connected learning, self-learning and digital citizenship are ways for the Ontario politicians and administrators to support their learning communities and equip learners and educators for current and future success. In Alberta, the site provides a number of resources for educators and students to encourage self-directed learning in a variety of online and face to face environment using technology. SAMPLE – Primary Math

Politicians and leaders need to start with a clear vision, and a willingness to ruthlessly edit curriculum for computer science and integrated technology will be helpful for aiding students use technology as a more effective learning tool. Education Secretary Michael Gove in the United Kingdom boldly states a willingness to scrap an existing ICT curriculum (Ontario has never had one!) in order to make way for updates.

“Our school system has not prepared children for this new world. Millions have left school over the past decade without even the basics they need for a decent job. And the current curriculum cannot prepare British students to work at the very forefront of technological change.

The best degrees in Computer Science are among the most rigorous and respected qualifications in the world… and prepare students for immensely rewarding careers and world-changing innovations. But you’d never know that from the current ICT curriculum.

This is why we are withdrawing it from September. Technology in schools will no longer be micro-managed by Whitehall. By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we’re giving teachers freedom over what and how to teach, revolutionising ICT as we know it.”

He added:

“Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum. Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch. By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own Apps for smartphones.” Source HERE

Perhaps a Three Stage approach (1 -Envison, 2-Communicate and 3-Implement) would be an effective structure for politicians and administrators in Ontario to begin the process of harnessing the potential of technology to aid learning communities across Ontario.  It seems we have much catching up to do but perhaps we can build on and collaborate with the noble attempts of other governments and leaders.

Curriculum resources
Learn Alberta website 2014
Updates to the UK Computer Science curriculum 2012- HERE
A Vision for Learning and Teaching in a Digital Age Recommendations from the Ontario Public School Board Association, 2013
ISTE – Technology Standards for students, teachers, administrators etc.
UNESCO – ICT in education documentation

Computational Thinking resources 
Shutdown or Restart: The way forward for Computer Science in UK schools – Steve Furber et. all 2012
“Welcome to the Programmable World” Bill Wasik, Wired,  June 2013
Programming to Think on the Internet of Things Anthony Chuter July 2013
Tech experts lobby for more computing classes to boost future economy” Danny Bradbury The Financial Post May 2013
Scratch Programming for All –  Mitch Resnick and MIT team November 2009

Digital Citizenship resources
Digital Citizenship for the M-Generation – Anthony Chuter 2014 – original format
ommonSense Media’s Digital Citizenship K-12 Scope and Sequence
Family Online Safety Insitute – A Platform for Good

Other resources
Connected Learning Report Ito et al. 2013
The Change Agents Lemke and Coughlin 2014
Horizon Report 2014



2 comments on “Blog: Learning with Technology #EDUC5101g

  1. Pingback: How can Technology be used to help keep education relevant at all levels? |

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