Moving Backwards

This past week has been interesting. Wednesday afternoon I had tendon surgery on my (non-dominant) left hand. This has left me a bit immobilized but made an opportunity to see how good Read&Write is (spoiler: SO much better than Siri).

So, this week our question is about our concerns about teaching in a digital world. This was particularly of interest to me as there are going to be vast changes to how we are able to use Google Apps for Education in the very near future. Essentially, our use of GAFE is going to be severely curtailed to the point of non-use.

The concern is student privacy. Google gathers information to disseminate to others for money: data mining. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog for this class and more in detail for a previous class. To me, this is not a new issue.

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Photo via: Kelsie Lenihan

But this connects to the question of our “moral imperative” to teach children, but to also protect their privacy. How do we ethically curate an online presence within a classroom, when we are bounded by so many obligations from our board, which ultimately dictates our parameters?

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Photo via: McGraw Hill Education (also a really interesting article)

I think my questions are stemming from a growing frustration: I see the direction the world is moving and I am trying to teach students to move within it. The video by Michael Wesch about how connected everything is and how “ridiculously easy” it is to connect and share speaks very closely to my classroom experience. It is so easy to connect, but we seem to be moving backwards in our rush to protect the vulnerability of our students.

Sharing will become locked down and inaccessible as our students’ privacy versus our students’ growth in a modern world becomes paramount. We are required to teach critical thinking skills, which Wesch referred to as a filter, but critical thinking skills are not enough anymore.

There is an atmosphere of control emerging as administrators and those in power grapple with the impact an online presence can have on a student’s future. This is compounded by the issues of privacy and the fact that no one truly knows where information is going.

 

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Photo via: Education Next

To me this means that education is going to take a massive step backwards: I’m going to have to go back to pen and paper in order to make my students untraceable. Nothing will be shared, no footprints online.

I believe this is doing our students a huge disservice and is reactionary rather than being proactive. I think that before this edict is handed down, education about our role as educators online needs to happen for teachers and information about students’ online presence needs to be given to both students and parents. The only term I can put with this is frustrating.

As Google may be on its way out, thank goodness for other options. I’ll be exploring how to move my Google Classroom onto Canvas.

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3 thoughts on “Moving Backwards

  1. Hey Kelsie!

    First, sorry about your wrist! I feel like that likely threw a wrench in more of your plans than just coding. 😉

    Second, this a wonderful, thoughtful post on the two sides of the coin that teachers face regarding “to technology or not to technology”. I think really, in my opinion, what it comes down to is how safe can we teach kids to be when as educators when we aren’t as up to date or supported as we need to be? The government continues to make cuts, the technology available to teach kids becomes less and less accessible and as you mentioned, we aren’t even really sure where our gathered information about our online time or demographics actually goes! I agree with the idea that classrooms in the nearer future could take steps backward before moving forward. I can’t count the number of times I hear, “Well, getting the computers is just too much work…” , “How can I monitor what they’re on? I’ll just leave it.”, “The kids get enough screen time anyway” in conjunction with the fact that my school only has enough lap tops for 1 full class set so we are sharing between 10 classrooms K-8. So many frustrations stand in the way of making working and learning in the digital age safe and efficient.

    I don’t think I answered any of your questions…in fact I likely just purposed more but many pieces of your post got me thinking about the reality of our classrooms in the years to come. SOOO many factors to consider including demographics, funding, interests, safety and permission, oh my!

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  2. I find the shift in Regina Public’s use of Google Classroom interesting as, in ECI 834, my school division (PVSD) did not have access to using the Google platform due to the fact that it was hosted in the US and their privacy laws did not stand up to our requirements of privacy (as told to me by someone in our division office). This year, we have access to Google Classroom and Regina Public is taking a major step backwards and re-evaluating their decision. I wonder, did something happen? Or are they looking at other divisions (such as my own) and thinking they have not checked all of the boxes to ensure student privacy?

    If you are going to Canvas, where it is hosted may be something to consider. And if you do decide to move your course, I have worked with Canvas and may be able to answer some questions!

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    1. Thanks for the offer! I’ve taken EC&I834, too, and have looked through Canvas. I was going to use it more a repository for assignments etc rather than using my old method of uploading to a blog and was not planning to have students submit through it 🙂

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