“…there is a time and a place for tech – there are so many wonderful tools out there to stay connected to family members, to learn and grow, and to explore new concepts and ideas. But we need to make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of the blanket fort.” – Kid Complicated: Childhood Isn’t What It Used To Be
As a kid growing up I feel like my life outside of school was pretty much a mirror for how things went at school. Things were pretty mainstreamed and many people followed a pretty similar pattern in their day-to-day lives. I remember ‘way back’ when you had to go to the store to buy groceries, get your photos printed – then physically go to a family gathering so everyone could see your pictures, the local newspaper took pictures at school/community events and printed them in the next weeks issue, you had to walk in to another room and pick up the phone to call someone, you checked the monthly calendar to see who was having a birthday that day and opened the fridge to see what was inside.
Kids today are living life, outside of school, in a society that is completely consumed by technology and the rate at which that is increasing is exponential. You can order your groceries online and pick them up a few hours later without stepping foot in the store, be at a community event where your picture is snapped and be seen online in a matter of seconds – some call this news, check Facebook to ‘remember’ which family member or friend has a birthday today, pay for your child’s school hot lunch on your phone – never mind take your phone with you everywhere you go, pay all your bills online, print pictures, put them in ‘the cloud’ or AirDrop them to a friend, ask Siri to call someone for you and then get her to help you with your kids math homework!
So, if our society is being consumed by technology, what happens when technology isn’t present in today’s classrooms? Confused kids… that’s what happens!
Now before you go and hit that comment button to tell me that it can’t all be about technology all the time, check out my thoughts on balance from last weeks post – Meet Me In The Middle?.
Since we’ve got that out-of-the-way, let’s dig a little deeper into why I agree with Channing and wholeheartedly disagree with the debate topic from class this week: Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.
“…as is always the case with digital technologies, the affordances are not necessarily realized and learning is by no means guaranteed. After all, not all uses of social media are educational or of sufficient quality to contribute to knowledge building.” – Professional Online Presence and Learning Networks: Educating for Ethical Use of Social Media by Dianne Forbes
I’ve said it many times before but I believe that as teachers, it is our job to prepare our students for their future, by giving them the skills they will need to be productive members of society. These preparations have to be purposeful and not done on a whim. When I was a kid growing up in a small town Saskatchewan classroom, my teachers didn’t just hand out the papers to us and say figure it out. They gave us the tools for what we needed in order to understand and complete the task at hand. There were projects that we had to be worked on and problems to solve. Sound familiar? If you’re involved in education, I believe it should, as this is what teaching and learning look like.
Teaching and learning really are no different today. However, the options for creating learning opportunities are endless! The tools for learning, that we now have, are greater and more wide-reaching. When we know that social media can, as shared in Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education, provide our students with opportunities to create, collaborate, communicate and engage in the learning process – why wouldn’t we teach them how to do that?
If we aren’t bringing technology into our classrooms, how are our students supposed to know how to navigate the world outside of school? They need opportunities to explore social media in a safe and guided environment so they can make informed decisions when they walk out of the school doors.
The question this week was whether or not it is unfair to openly share our students work and pictures online. I believe there are a few things we can do that ensure we are being fair to our students when sharing online:
- We need to have division-wide procedures in place that teachers can clearly access/understand and be able to follow.
- As a teacher – get informed. Learn about your division’s policies and ask for clarification if you do not understand.
- Involve students and their families in the choice to post online and honour their personal preferences.
- Educate students and their families on how to appropriately and safely navigate the social media world
When we share without a purpose or specific intent, then we fall into the unfair category. Scott McLeod offers some insight into how school divisions, schools and families can approach the sharing of student photos. I feel it is important to mention that I think if we are sharing things without due process and specific intent, I think it is our teaching practices that we need to question, not whether the sharing is or is not fair.