Well this was definitely my most challenging blog thus far to come up with an idea to write about for EDL 820. Maybe, because there were no prompts to start us off, or maybe that I had many negative opinions to express based on provincial words and promises but no actions or sufficient funding to support actions and I much prefer to focus on positives and solutions. I have therefore decided to look critically at the idea of “The Home / School Continuum: Two Lives or One” (Pg 9 of Digital Citizenship in Saskatchewan Schools) as I believe our view of and decision in this realm has a very large impact on how we will approach the idea of digital citizenship in schools, home and society. I understand both perspectives and can quite honestly say that I have not decided which one I feel is the correct perspective to take as a teacher; it is not a black and white issue, but much more of a gray area in worldview. In some situations technology works great at home and school (ie. Google classroom), other times kids “Snap” each other endlessly in both environments. Furthermore, this debate still continues in other very similar situations as to whether school is to prepare students for life, work or both. Are we teaching citizens, workers, university bound youth, or rebels because at times it is hard to understand who school’s really serve and why? The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education has not told us the answer to this question very clearly at this point., but they seem to be embracing digital lives for teachers and students quite specifically.
Personally, I feel the main purpose of school is to benefit our rationale minds in the mental and social portions of our lives and develop good citizens of our province, nation and world. These skills will mostly serve us in our academic and employment futures. I also feel like our experiences in athletics, recreation, faith-based experiences, family and individual lives mostly serve our emotional selves in the spiritual and emotional portions of our existence. Now this is not to say that we don’t learn about emotions in school, or intellectual skills while recreating, but in general, I find these concepts to be true. These rules could be skewed if our emotional teachings were skewed significantly at home, with neglect or abuse and schools would hopefully attempt to fill in where personal situations lack, hence the concept of teaching the whole child. So I would say that I see a large difference in our experiences at home and at school and what we are to develop or receive from those varied experiences. Naturally, I would like to extend this belief as to how I, and students, experience technology. In my professional / work life, I show slideshows, type up assignments, send and receive too many emails, input marks and many other technological tasks. In my personal life, I check out facebook, read articles about personal areas of interest, listen to podcasts and music, and watch movies and tv shows. The use of technology is very different in each different situation and although it is ever present, it does not feel like a vital part of my existence in either situation. I think that this is changing with current youth, they are fundamentally connected to their online selves and technology. But honestly this is where the debate lies: do we want an augmented reality with technology as part of us, or do we want technology to just be a tool we use at our own convenience? Because the answer to this question will have a huge impact on the degree to which we prioritize the use of technology in schools. I view technology as a tool in my life, not as a fundamental part of me. I teach my own children from this perspective.
I agree with the statement that “the ‘one life’ perspective argues ... that schools have a fundamental responsibility to help students ‘balance the individual empowerment of digital technology with a sense of personal, community and global responsibility.” (Pg 9) However as technology has made its way into schools I see significantly less personal, community and global responsibility. In my Pre-Calculus 30 students are upset they are not given pre-printed notes that are fill in the blanks based on what I write on a smartboard, as has been the case for all their previous high school math classes. In my woodworking courses, students pay little attention to vital shop demonstrations and then refuse to watch the instructional videos (recorded versions of the demonstrations) that would help them succeed on their woodworking projects. In attempting to engage critical thinking and using phones for education in my classes, many in the class scroll endlessly on social media or play online games. We have one of the most powerful technologies ever in our hands that could teach us anything, anytime, anywhere, and we are playing pong and saying ‘wazup’ all day to friends. This is beyond frustrating as an educator.
I believe that we should teach digital citizenship and embrace Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship in school, in fact the whole document is really a good read for all educators and parents. But we should really decide as a society as too how much priority or control we would really like to give over to technology and large technology interests. If we embrace it completely in schools as “one life” would suggest then we are telling students that this is the way forward for our society. If we keep it at a critical distance, like a tool instead of a crutch or extension of ourselves, then we can move forward cautiously accepting how technology will better our lives and rejecting how it will disadvantage or have negative effects on individuals and society. I would compare this to vehicles in the early 1900’s. We have completely embraced the vehicular movement with very little resistance. This changed everything about how neighbourhoods, cities, countries and even how houses are designed. It changed many things about our lifestyles, and not all for the better. It has had major climate effects. Now we attempt to push back a little with bike lanes, electric vehicles and pedestrian access but ultimately car travel (and fossil fuels in general) is a fundamental part of our society. Do we want to accept the same fate with technology or would slow, critical progress create a better future? I do not know the answer, but mostly feel the question is important to ask as we steam ahead with smartphones, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, satellite imagery and social media without pause. I personally feel it is important to maintain different identities in different areas of life and be responsible, reflective, and hard-working in all the roles one takes on. I would be very interested to hear what other classmates and educators think about this.