It is a pleasure and privilege to be invited to be part of CTL 1799 this summer! I am looking forward to some lively discussion about how we can promote healthy, balanced technology use that contributes to our students’ well-being on all levels.
Currently, I am the Team Leader in the Middle School at one of Toronto’s large independent schools for girls. I support teachers as they develop curriculum and assessment and design learning experiences that reach the personal interests, proclivities and learning needs of each of our students. Technology use in the middle years is a challenge and we are always engaged in debates about how technology can be used powerfully to support curriculum while avoiding over-reliance. We want students to see technology as a tool and to know when it is helpful and when it is not. The school is committed to integrating technology throughout the curriculum and across all grades (JK-12). Students have access to iPads, laptops and desktops from kindergarten onwards. By Grade 5 they are invited (but not required) to bring their own devices. By Grade 9 all students bring their own laptop.
I completed an EDD at OISE in 2008 in CTL. My thesis explored how teachers are able to enact an inquiry-based approach in their classrooms. While I was completing my thesis I worked as a technology integration specialist in classrooms from Grade 3 through 12. Prior to that I was a classroom teacher, and have taught Grades 3 through 8 in both the public and independent systems.
Before coming to the education
system, I worked in a variety of capacities in maternal-child health –
including being a member of the first regulatory councils that set standards
for midwifery in Ontario as a fully legislated health profession. I am
a traveler and have learned as much from visiting and living in other countries
as I ever have in school. I also practice yoga and meditation. My other
interests include hiking the Bruce Trail, paddling the backcountry in Ontario’s
Provincial Parks and long Sunday suppers with family and friends.
One of the goals for me when I took CTL 1799 in 2004 was coming to a greater understanding of the role technology can play in helping our students and us develop a deeper, balanced and constructive understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. At that time, some of my colleagues were surprised to learn there could be a course that brought together holistic education and the digital world. What could technology have to do with holism? Doesn’t technology divide us from ourselves and each other?
Since that time the debate about technology’s place in education and technology’s impact on learning and lifestyle has amplified and teachers, parents and even students are increasingly concerned (recently one of the students commented to me that she is concerned that she and her friends spend so much of their time texting each other that they hardly ever have real face-to-face conversations with each other).
And yet, we know that technology is a powerful ally for learning and can broaden our horizons, expose us to new points of view, and offer a forum for discussion with others we’ve never met. It can support a wide range of learning styles from the organizationally challenged to the student who struggles to read. It can provide us with a wealth or resources and processes that can support a happy and full life.
Perhaps more importantly, technology has woven its way into the lives of many of the students we teach and with or without us it is having an impact on the very rhythm of their lives. If by holistic education, we refer to the whole life of the student, then clearly we will have to take technology into account. What then is our responsibility as educators in helping students find balance and use technology powerfully and avoid being dominated and diminished by it?
What follows are a few readings that have helped me think about technology and education and wonder how I can contribute to the ongoing project of integrating technology into holistic approach. In no way is this list intended to be comprehensive, representative or unbiased (how could it be). It is simply a small sampling of what I have come across as I look for ideas and perspectives.
It’s Complicated: The
social lives of networked teens, by Dana Boyd.
Boyd calls herself a digital anthropologist. In this books she describes and explores how youth integrate technology into their lives. She illuminates the divide between how adults often view teen’s technology use and how teens themselves see it. It helped me see teens with fresh eyes and reminded me how much I don’t know.
Computers can impact on
children’s ability to learn, union says. BBC
Is your family’s relationship
with technology healthy? By Jim Taylor.
In this article from the Huffington Post, Jim Taylor reminds us that in thinking about and making decisions about children’s use of technology we need to examine our own.
Ban Cell Phones, Internet
Use in Children and Teenagers Bedrooms – National Post.
5 Myths About Teens and
Technology Every Parent Should Ignore – Huffington Post
One of the best and most
balanced sources of information and discussion on technology and how it
affects us that I have found is CBC radio’s Spark. Find their podcasts
Or follow the show here: @sparkcbc