Month: July 2023
Three things that you may be able to put into practice in your teaching and how they could impact your learners
Use of cloud computing
There are many benefits to using cloud computing programs, mainly G Suite for Education, as it is relatively easy to use for both students and teachers. As I have recently discovered, the ability to use G Suite for Education varies widely across BC school districts. This is largely due to how the information on students is kept outside of Canada. I found the CBC podcast interesting as the father of a student opted to not sign the permission form to allow his daughter to receive a Google account (Young, 2018). In my Grade ⅘ class we use Google Apps for Education and I do not know what I would have done if a parent refused to sign the form. We do all of our online writing through Google and there is currently no alternative for students. So although Google seems to have a hold on cloud computing in my district, if it intends to remain in Canadian schools we all must rethink how important it is that it stores the information of students within Canada.
Work in collaboration
The Couros (2013) interview reminded me that connections between individuals are more important than the social networking tools used to make that connection. He mentioned making learning visible and I think this is so important to begin even in elementary school. When students are given the opportunity to express their learning in a way that works for them it is amazing what they come up with. I am a big believer in teaching through the lens of inquiry, which is a lot like the learning project Couros mentions. You have students make a meaningful question, then form network connections, and find ways to learn what answers their question. In order to do this you need to work in collaboration with other colleagues. I have many different ways of connecting with colleagues digitally whether that be through a shared Google folder or Instagram. These connections have made me a better teacher.
Coding and programming
Recently I have been trying to incorporate more coding programs into my curriculum. The main program I use is Scratch for Kids and this year I had some of my Grade 5 boys really take what they were learning and run with it! Coding is quickly becoming a critical part of 21st Century education and can lead to many jobs in the technology industry. Coding allows students to be creative, develop problem solving skills, and become competent computer programmers. I would like to take time to learn about a few more coding programs for my elementary aged students so they are given a variety of opportunities to learn.
Two things that you need to be increasingly aware of in your current use of technology that you would like to change or improve
Security and privacy
The security and privacy of my students and their personal information is increasingly becoming a big issue. Students’ digital literacy skills need to be developed appropriately so they are aware of what information should and should not be disclosed online. As social media begins at younger and younger ages I see this as an urgent matter elementary students need to be taught in the classroom. Teachers use many online programs where they have to input students’ names, age, reading level, etc. I want to be more aware of how those programs use and/or keep the information I put in.
Seek out Open Educational Practices
Open educational practices (OEP) is something that was new to me as there are not many options for this in the K-12 system. After learning about the benefits of OEP I see how high school teachers would love this. Teachers nowadays rarely teach from one textbook, we pull resources from many different sources. This is one of the great benefits of OEP. But unfortunately I do not think the Ministry of Education would put money towards this as our current education system is already underfunded.
One recommendation you would like to make to your institution about the use of technology that would have a potentially wider impact across the institution
Encourage schools within districts to share with one another (subscriptions, digital resources, etc.)
Teachers are traditionally great resource sharers and collaborators. But when it comes to school districts sharing among one another that is unheard of. It is often hard to share resources or programs within a single school district! I would make the recommendation of my current school district to work towards being more transparent in their collaborations and to be more inclusive. There have been many times when I have heard of an amazing opportunity that would have improved my teaching after the fact. I would have my institution’s leaders watch the Couros video on the connected teacher for a start! Online subscriptions can cost quite a lot and fall under the individual schools budget to pay for. If more collaboration and sharing were encouraged then more opportunities for students would be possible!
One thing that could help improve teaching with technology in your area
Advocate for districts to provide yearly training opportunities for digital literacy (teacher and student focused)
One thing I believe that would greatly improve teaching with technology in my school district would be to provide annual training for teachers on how to be digitally literate as well as their students. Oftentimes there is an expectation teachers know how to properly use technology with their students, but this is often not the case. I consider myself a fairly digitally literate individual, yet I would still like to have formal training on some of the online programs I use, as well as how best to keep students’ information private. If it were up to me I would make the training for teachers mandatory as I believe digital literacy is going to become increasingly more important.
Young, N. (Host). (2018, June 8). 401: Google for education [Audio podcast episode]. In Spark with Nora Young. CBC Radio One. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/spark/401-google-for-education-1.4694935
Connected Learning Alliance. (2013). Professor Alec Couros: “The connected teacher” [Video]. Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/46442363
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. (2017, October 24). 2017 global privacy enforcement network sweep. https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/about-the-opc/what-we-do/international-collaboration/international-privacy-sweep/2017_result/
Cronin, C. (2017). Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(5). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i5.3096