Unit 5: Flexible, Equitable, Achievable?

At the provincial level, the Ministry of Education within the Government of Saskatchewan recognized the need for allowing all of our students to become digitally competent citizens.  Image result for government of saskatchewanThe Millenials that consume our classrooms each day are digital natives, just because they have been born into this era does not necessarily mean that they know how to properly or safely use the vastness that is this technology. 

The Technology in Education Framework states that “not only is technology vital the learner…it allows for creativity, flexibility and allows for a greater reach in educational opportunities” (p1).  I have chosen to focus this units blog on the view that our provincial stakeholders took at using digital technology to enhance equity in learning for all in Saskatchewan.  How can technology allow for this to happen?  Just as Dylan stated in his blog, growing up in a larger center can cause one to wear blinders, not realizing that not everyone had access to the internet or computers in their schools – or even being in a larger center being forced to only take the courses offered at your school when you could have been taking courses offered at the DLC (understanding there is a financial undertaking here too, which may further resect some out).

Personally, I am a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom to enhance lessons.  In fact, I have gone away from using textbooks in my classes entirely.  Technology has the ability to allow for learning for all, students can be working on multiple levels at the same time.   But, using technology in the classroom also means that I am responsible for teaching the appropriate use of student-based technology.  Just because these Millenials have the world at their fingertips, does not necessarily mean that they know how to use it safely and in an acceptable manner.  Should educators have to shoulder this responsibility entirely?  NO.  There needs to be some responsibility with their parents/guardians too.  However, considering that our students are spending the majority of their waking hours in school, we have a responsibility to do our part if we are expecting our students to use technology in our systems. 

I realize that not all schools are equipped with enough computers for all students, therefore our students are using their own cell phones for classes. By allowing students to use their own devices, we are inviting in distractions which have to be managed.  Great – yet another thing for our classroom teachers to try to manage.  Or is it?  I caution those who are quick to complain about this.  Recently Ontario has decided to ban cell phones in classes beginning at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  I am curious how this will pan out.  I understand that concern about the distractions, but a student can be just as distracted while on a laptop as they can be on a phone.  I understand that they are faster on their phones with the distractions, however, distractions are always there.  I am concerned that this ban will narrow the educational experience to those in remote areas who do not have access to technology that those in larger centers do.   My other concern with this is:  What if it pans out well, although Saskatchewan believes that technology enhances equity and learning for all, will we follow suit and ban cell phones in our classrooms?  Will this then become inequitable for remote areas?  How will our classrooms adjust to still function within the government mandates?

2 thoughts on “Unit 5: Flexible, Equitable, Achievable?”

  1. Hey Carla,
    I really enjoyed reading your post and your ideas surrounding incorporating technology within the classroom. I completely agree with you that banning cell phones/devices in the classroom is not the answer; it is the easy way out. Yes, teaching with technology requires additional classroom management on the teacher and school’s behalf, but we cannot shy away from or dismiss the inclusion of these amazing tools for that reason. I am currently working with two other classmates ini this course on our major project. We are looking at taking the “acceptable use policy” our division has created and revamping it. Currently our policy is a blanket that covers students and staff. We are working to create separate policies that not only set restrictions, but empower students and teachers to use technology in a responsible manner. I am focussing my portion of the project primarily on the student policy. I am looking to take our existing policy and create more of a “responsible use policy” thereby creating not only digital citizens, but also digital leaders who understand that “with great power comes great responsibility” (had to use the Spiderman quote here). My proposed policy will also be accompanied with a series of lesson plans to help build this digital empowerment!
    Earlier this term we learned that there was a school in Regina that banned cell phones for their students already. My school has technically banned cell phone use, but this is because our students in grades 4-8 all have 1:1 laptops assigned to them and therefore do not require their own devices. However, if a student has an idea that requires the use of his/her personal device, we are open to discussing and lifting the ban on a case by case basis. I certainly hope our province does not follow the Ontario lead with the banning of devices as this would not only take away valuable learning opportunities it is also not working to prepare our students for the skills they require to be successful in the 21st century!
    Thanks so much for your post. It certainly gave me a lot to think about!

    Like

    1. Jen! I would love to see your major project after! This is something that I think our province could possibly look at from a Leads standpoint and take to divisions! Great ideas!

      Like

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