6.1 Cybersafety

Cybersafety has always been a concern for me, specifically in online gaming environments and social media platforms.  As both a teacher and a parent I am always talking to children and teens about being aware of who they are talking to online, what they are saying to and about friends, and what they are sharing.  There are too many instances of students being cajoled into behaving in ways they would not normally if they were in a non-digital environment.   Whether it is talking to strangers, bullying others, posting or sharing inappropriate images, and/or engaging in other morally questionable behaviors, youth often struggle with the everchanging digital landscape they are exposed to.  It is our role as educators and parents to teach children about the variety of dangers online and model an appropriate online presence.

In the last couple of years, however, I am becoming more and more aware that it is not only gaming and social media environments where we need to be concerned with regards to cybersafety.  Any online platform that we encourage students to use, even in an educational setting, opens students to risk.  Therefore, it is our job as educators to ensure that we choose platforms that are both secure in regards to data, but also safe in regards to protecting students privacy.  This can be tricky.  How do we know what is or what is not safe to use with our students?  How can we be sure?  For myself, there are some specific criteria I look for:

  1. Does the platform integrate with Google Apps for Education?
    • GAFE has very strict security and privacy policies.  All GAFE products follow:
      • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
      • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
      • EU Direction of Data Protection1
    • Google has also taken the Studnet Privacy Pledge2
  2. Has the digital tool been examined by Common Sense Educators (HERE).
  3. Does it use https:// rather than http://

With the ever-changing digital landscape students are exposed to we have to be on our game.  It is our job to do everything in our power to keep students safe while online.  That doesn’t mean blocking websites, online restrictions, or overbearing monitoring, instead, it means staying knowledgeable about potential risks and educating ourselves, parents and students about them.

eduatgoogle. “G Suite for Education: Legislation & Certifications.” YouTube, YouTube, 6 Oct. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGNOHnms2YQ.

“Pledge to Parents & Students.” Pledge to Parents & Students – Leading School Service Providers Pledge to Advance Student Data Protections for Student Personal Information, studentprivacypledge.org/.

5.1 Activity Evaluation

I have chosen to use the SAMR model to evaluate my lesson:

Evaluation of a Learning Activity I have Previously Conducted:
The following activity was one I did while teaching middle school over the last 5 years:

When this activity is evaluated using the SAMR model I would consider the technology used to follow under the following level:

The outcome is still the same but has been transformed.  By using multimedia students are able to enhance their learning and the learning of others.

Evaluation of a Newly designed Learning Activity:
In my new role as an adaptive technology coordinator, I am working with Texthelp’s Read&Write tool (HERE).  The goal is to have students with accommodations use the tool to meet their needs.  However, to get buy-in from teachers, I am going to show them ways they could use the activity with their whole class:
When this activity is evaluated using the SAMR model I would consider the technology used to follow under the following level:

Done something that is inconceivable without technology.  By using the Read&Write tool all students are able to work with a text in a transformative way (vocabulary list).  For students requiring accomodations, it has allowed them to complete a reading and writing
activity independently and within a reasonable time.

By Lefflerd [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Assignment #1 – Exploring IT resources

I have chosen the web-based tool Padlet for this assignment.  The following is my evaluation of Padlet:

Ease of Use:
Padlet is very user-friendly.  Instructions are very clear and it is easy to move throughout the platform.  The help section contains videos, an FAQ section, and ways to contact support.  You can create an account using Google, Facebook, or Microsoft or you can use your email.  Up until April of 2018, Padlet was free, but sadly it’s not anymore.  If you sign up for an account now, you get 3 free Padlets and then must pay.  There are a variety of pricing plans, you can get Padlet Pro for 8.25/month or you can go with the teacher version, Padlet Backpack, and you can check out the prices HERE.  For those of us who already had Padlet accounts, we do get to keep all the existing Padlets we made and can make up to 3 more before having to purchase some type of membership.

Confidentiality of Content/Discussion:
Padlet is a secure website that follows both a strict content policy (HERE) and privacy policy (HERE).  When sharing your Padlet wall there are a variety of privacy options and user options (see graphics below).  Sharing your wall with others is easy.  You can copy the link, post it to common social media sites, use a given QR code, post to Google Classroom, and even embed it.

Padlet is very easy to embed in a variety of other platforms.  In the sharing settings, they provide an embed code that is useable on a variety of other applications.  They also have a variety of apps, plugins, and extensions (HERE) which allow you to interact with Padlet in a variety of ways.  If you want to remove access to your Padlet wall you can easily change your sharing settings and you can delete the wall from all locations with a single click.

Appropriateness for Academic Use:
I have used this tool in my own teaching over the years in a couple different ways.

  • Sharing reference information with students on a pinboard like wall (HERE)
  • Have students add information to a shared Padlet wall which they can use as a resource on a project (HERE)
  • In jigsaw type activities where students learn about one concept and then come back to teach it to the rest of the group (HERE)
  • Have students use it as a presentation platform (HERE)

Although I have only used Padlet with ninth grade students, it’s ease of use would make it appropriate to use in lower grades as well.

Class Discussion:
I thought it might be fun to run the class discussion of Padlet on an actual Padlet wall.  All you need to do is click on the little box with the arrow located in the top right corner of the Padlet wall embedded below to open it in a new screen.  You can then double click under a question to add your response.

Made with Padlet


4.2 – Networked Learning Discussion

As I read through both Brennan’s critique of cMOOCs and Downes rebuttal I found myself viewing them through 3 different lenses; the online student, the elementary/secondary teacher and the parent of a child with a learning disability.  Reading through both I found many valid points and depending on the lens I was looking through I either agreed or disagreed.

As an online student, I tended to agree more with the points by Downes.  Specifically, her argument against Brennan’s point that cMOOCs contain “tasks that are too complex with no guidance in how to achieve them” by saying that the “problem here is one of mistaking a menu for an obligation” (Downes, 2013, p. 7).  Through my own participation in MOOCs and online courses, I have found that there is always choice.  Whether it be in choosing which readings to focus on, how to complete an activity or assessment, or the level of discourse you want to partake in, it is up to you as an online student.  Downes also addresses this when she argues against Brennan’s points on cognitive load.   I couldn’t agree more with Downes when she says “success or failure is found in the quality of the experiences you do choose to have, and are reflected in your own assessment of yourself, not against some arbitrary and impossible external standard” (2013, p. 6)

As a teacher I found myself seeing both sides of the argument.  In the classroom environment, I completely agree with Brennan when he states ” there is no “one size fits all” student” (2013, p. 2).  As a teacher, I am constantly finding ways to differentiate my instruction in order to meet the learning styles and needs of all the students in my classroom.  I am always aware that each student varies in regards to prior knowledge and that cognitive load has an impact on the mastery of skills and objectives.  That being said however, as we move towards newly developed concept-based curriculum I’m having to rethink my delivery and assessment of content.  My goal is now shifting towards building capacity in my students which really aligns with Downes’ statement “The key is to stop thinking of these as content to be mastered, and to start thinking them as skills to be practiced.” (2013, p. 7).

As a parent of a child with a learning disability I 100% follow Brennan’s arguments.  My daughter definitely does better in learning environments that are scaffolded in order to support her needs.  If she has the supports and the differentiation in place to address her specific learning difficulties, her ability to confidently meet learner expectations drastically increases.  Brennan’s assertion that “Good educators provide encouragement, and verbal persuasion, which can increase a student’s self-efficacy” (2013, p. 4-5) really speaks to me.  My daughter in particular flourishes in a classroom that has a teacher who offers praise when she is successful and support, rather than criticism, when she is not.

As you can see, the lens I’m looking through really shapes my judgment, which I can honestly say is a consistent reality in my life as a whole.  That being said, I find that having the ability to switch between lenses has allowed me to be a much more well rounded, open-minded, and empathetic teacher, student, and parent.

Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: A guide to understanding the MOOC novice. Hybrid Pedagogy. 24 July 2013.

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the Primal Scream. Half an Hour. 25 July 2013.

4.1 – Fitting Your Teaching Philosophy Within an Online Context

As I read through the articles by Kanuka and Anderson & Dron I kept thinking of a question I often get from colleagues in regards to assessing using online tools or meeting students accommodations with adaptive technology: “How do I stop them from going on the internet and googling the answer?”  I always bring them back to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  What level are you assessing on the pyramid?  Is it the bottom level; knowledge and comprehension?  Then using online tools probably isn’t the best idea for your assessment or activity.  However, if you are trying to have students, create, evaluate, analyse, and/or apply then what are you worried about?  Some people would consider this quite a progressive viewpoint, however, I tend to think of it as more of a humanist approach.  For me, the role of technology in education is to give teachers an environment where they can “create the conditions within which learning can take place” (Kanuka, 2008, p. 107).  In the online learning environment, my pedagogical beliefs tend to lean more towards the social-constructivist end of the spectrum, as I firmly believe learning is “an active rather than passive process” (Anderson & Dron, 2012, p7).  Overall, however, I also agree with one of the final statements in Anderson & Dron’s (2012) conclusion “that all three current (and future) generations of distance education pedagogy have an important place in a well-rounded educational experience.”

Kanuka, H. (2008). Understanding e-learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. In T. Anderson (Ed.), Theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Athabasca University: AU Press.  http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/04_Anderson_2008-Theory_and_Practice_of_Online_Learning.pdf

Anderson, T. & Dron, J. (2012). Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy. European Journal of Open Distance and E-Learning. 2012-2.  http://www.eurodl.org/?p=archives&year=2012&halfyear=2&article=523

3.4 Check out Social Bookmarking

I am going to start this post by saying that in all honesty, I am not a big fan of social bookmarking sites.  I’ve tried to use sites like Diigo before, but I find I quickly forget about them and go back to my tried and true ways of bookmarking for personal use and for sharing with students.

I am a Google Chrome user which makes bookmarking on multiple devices very easy.  By syncing my Google Chrome account on my 3 different computers, my iPhone and Chromebook, I always have access to sites I have bookmarked for work and home.  I also use the Google Chrome extension TeamSync Bookmarks which I use to share information with family members.

To share websites with students I usually use 2 different methods.  In Google Classroom there used to be a resource section where I would add links to websites I felt were of value.  With the recent update of Google Classroom, I will instead be creating a Bookmark Topic in the Classwork section of the platform and share bookmarked sites there.  The 2nd way that I share bookmarked information is through embedded Google Sheets on websites I have created.  I enjoy using this method when sharing information with colleagues as it is easy to organize and I can very easily add new material from a variety of devices.


Web-Resource Criteria

Criteria for Online Verification

  1. What is the source of the online information?
    • Are they a credible source?
    • Are they the original source?
  2. Is there a possibility of financial gain?
    • Is there advertising on the page?
    • Are they trying to sell something?
  3. When was the site last updated?  How old is the organization who created the site?
  4. Is the site easily navigable?
    • Are there useable hyperlinks?
    • Can you navigate forward and backward?
  5. Can facts on the page be verified by other sources?
    • Use fact-checking sites (snopes.com, factscan.ca)
    • Use credible news agencies.

When preparing for a recent job interview I came across the following site; http://canada2020.ca/numeracy/. I thought it would be perfect for this assignment since I had never heard of Canada 2020.

Evaluation based on my “Criteria for Online Verification”

  1. What is the source of the online information?  Canada 2020 is a progressive think take that seems to align itself with the Canadian Liberal Party.  Their ‘Big Idea” is based on research done by a variety of reputable sources.
  2. Is there a possibility of financial gain?  There is no advertising on their site, however, there is a ‘Donate’ button which asks you to “Help us hold more free public events, promoting a more progressive point of view and critical thinking for Canada.” 1
  3. When was the site last updated?  How old is the organization that started the site? The site was last updated in September of 2018.  The group Canada 2020 formed in 2006.
  4. Is the site easily navigable?  The site is easy to navigate.  There are a variety of hyperlinks that move you throughout the architecture of the site.
  5. Can facts on the page be verified by other sources?  The site provides footnotes of references made in the article.  The footnotes are not hyperlinked but most are easily accessed online.

Overall, through using my ‘Criteria for Online Verification” I found that the Canada 2020s publication “Big Idea: A Canada-wide Transformation of Numeracy Skills” is a fairly left-wing perspective on the state of numeracy in Canada, however, it is backed up by reliable data and facts.

1Support Canada 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://canada2020.ca/donate/

Big Idea: A Canada-wide Transformation of Numeracy Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://canada2020.ca/numeracy/

3.3 Checking Out Alternate Criteria

I chose to use the criteria Paul developed (HERE) as my alternate criteria.  My evaluation of http://canada2020.ca/numeracy/ based on this new criteria is as follows:

  1. Is the website name embedded in the URL with a recognisable domain?  The website’s name is clearly in the URL and is part of a .ca domain.
  2. Are the content and intentions of the website made clear on the home page? If you go to the website’s homepage http://canada2020.ca/ there is a clear description of the organization’s purpose.
  3. Is the grammar and spelling of content well-presented and correct?  Yes, the grammar and spelling are well presented and correct.
  4. Is it well laid out with obvious navigation tools where you were expecting? The site is very navigable and tools are in expected places.
  5. Is the information provided first or second hand by the website’s authors?  Information is provided first based on research.  Citations and bibliographies are included.
  6. Are there hyperlinks to given sources?  Yes, hyperlinks are provided to sources and individuals referenced.
  7. Do you need to subscribe for a free or paid period to use the website?  It is a free website, however, there is a spot to donate to help fund the organization.
  8. Are there many adverts and/or pop-ups when using the website? There are no adverts or pop-ups, however, sponsor information is available and hyperlinked.
  9. Can you comment/report or contact website owners/writers easily?  At the bottom of the site, there is contact information as well as links to social media sites.
  10. Can you tell where/why/when each piece of information was created?  New articles posted on the site are attributed to the author and are dated.
  11. Does the website have privacy policies and/or terms and conditions readily available?  There is not a specific privacy or terms and conditions policy readily available however when subscribing to the blog there is an “I’m Not a Robot” confirmation.  I was disappointed that there was not a disclaimer stating that your personal information would not be shared with other organizations.

Based on the criteria produced by Paul, I have once again found http://canada2020.ca/numeracy/ to be a reputable website and would be comfortable using it.


3.1 Find Reusabe Content

I found this first image using Google Images’ advanced search tools and selecting ‘Labeled for Reuse’.  When I clicked on the image it redirected me to the Wikipedia Commons website.
SAMR-Bloom-SchrockBy Kathy Schrock [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This second image I searched for directly on the Wikipedia Commons website.Digital literacy disciplinesBy Dyuti mukh [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

I added both of these images to this blog post by embedding them with the HTML Code provided when I clicked on the ‘Use this file on the web’ button.  The usage rights for both images are as follows:

You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.


2.3 Your Take on Digital Literacy

In the age of digital literacy, I believe it is important for us as educators to help our students acquire the skills necessary to “create content and effectively communicate using a variety of digital media tools. ” (Hoechsmann, Michael, DeWaard, Helen, 2015, p. 5).  Specifically, I feel having a basic understanding of coding is essential for today’s student.

I began incorporating some coding activities into my classroom a couple of years ago.  I taught an elective called Go Google which encompassed a variety of digital literacy skills such as website design using Google Sites, blogging using Blogger, and creating a variety of content using the GAFE environment.  I finally decided to step into the world of coding when I first heard about the Hour of Code.  The first year I just gave the kids some free time and let them play.  Some of the students were really engaged and moved through the activities with ease and others were completely lost.  The next semester I wanted to go a little deeper so I created the following lesson:

Create Your Own Google Logo

Check out what I made: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/186390420/

Open https://goo.gl/hGhVQk
As a class, we will watch the video.
Choose Starter Project (Color)

The requirements for your Google Logo:
1. You need to Add a Backdrop
2. Put at least 2 costumes on your letters.
3. Use at least 3 motion effects to animate your letters
4. Add at least 1 sound effect.

Make your Google Logo public. On the project page click embed. Go to Share and copy the link and then add the sharing link to this assignment.

This activity went really well since students were familiar with the Google Logo and how it changed through the seasons.  As an educator, it was also in line with Alberta’s Learning and Technology Policy Framework (2013) in that it allowed students to use technology “as a platform for creation and sharing” (p. 4).

When investigating Mozilla’s Web Literacy tool and using it to evaluate my lesson I achieved the following:

Overall, this activity was fun for students, and for some their first foray into the world of code.  It falls under the branch of digital literacy Pangrazio refers to as digital design literacy in that “‘real’ learning takes place when people make and create” (as quoted in Pangrazio, 2016, p. 167).  Hopefully, my students finished this lesson and then continued to make and create with code on their own.

Hoechsmann, Michael, DeWaard, Helen. (2015) Mapping Digital Literacy Policy and Practice in the Canadian Education Landscape : MediaSmarts. Available at http:// mediasmarts.ca/ teacher-resources/ digital-literacy- framework/ mapping-digital-literacy-policy-practice-canadian-education-landscape

Government of Alberta. (2013). Learning and Technology Policy Framework . Retrieved from http:// education.alberta.ca/ media/6581166/framework.pdf

Web Literacy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://learning.mozilla.org/en-US/web-literacy/write/code/

Pangrazio, L. (2016). Reconceptualising critical digital literacy. Discourse: Studies in Cultural Politics37(2), 163-174.

2.2—Find Help Resources

I have always been somewhat of a problem solver when it comes to difficulties I encounter with technology.  Google and YouTube are really my best friends when it comes to figuring out why something isn’t working or how to get it to work the way I want it too.  Most of the times I am successful, but there are still times I need to get help from other sources.  I am really lucky in that I have a few coworkers I can rely on in these situations.  Specifically, I work with the most amazing man who, even though he is blind, knows his way around almost any aspect of computer hardware and networking.  I also have a colleague who is a Google Domain administrator and I feel she will be a big help in my new role as an adaptive technology coordinator.

As an educator I am also always interested in new ways technology can be used in my classroom.  To that end, I follow a couple different blogs and websites which allow me to stay on top of EdTech.  In particular, I like to check in with:

I know there is always challenges when it comes to technology and how to use it in an educational setting, but I feel that with my problem-solving skills and assistance from my peers, I will continue to be able to figure out how to best harness ever advancing educational technology.