Thursday, 4 April 2013

With Knowledge Comes Great Responsibility

"Banff 2013" Digital image by Michelle Pak - Iphone 5 Panoramic
This picture of Banff's nature in all it's glory was taken by my sister-in-law on her Iphone 5 using the panoramic photo option....   She held in her hand the technology to capture the rugged and seemingly untouched natural beauty of the Alberta Rockies unconscious of the effects and impact that this tiny piece of technology may have on the very environment we were all so enamored and in love with.

There are inevitable negative impacts of any technological invention.  The earth is one planet, and we are all connected in some way or another because we share the planet.  The internet is not unlike a global brain, where we are connecting online like the synapses of brain neurons, learning new local and global information and perspectives (  The challenges being faced by our technological  creations is having a detrimental effect on our shared natural environment (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009; Klemes, J., 2010; Kasper, Benardes, & Veit, 2011) and it seems that human kind is following the thought pattern of "out of sight, out of mind".   

How does human kind overcome this dilemma?  Is it up to the 1st world countries to take on the responsibility of teaching the 3rd/2nd world countries to uphold an environmental standards?  What does this mean in terms of government funding for environmental programs?  Klemes (2010, p. 588) describes the need for technology to inform "policy makers and industry" of the issues caused by technology itself in order to synergize the process of technology manufacturing, waste management and transportation efficiencies.  Is it fair to assume all countries have the ability to contribute to environmental recycling programs? Kasper et al. (2011, p. 725) state that recycling most of digital devices is possible and aids in, "low cost and represent and interesting and ecologically friendly approach to the management of waste polymers from electronic devices".  

One thing is clear in my observations and learning, the environment is suffering from our 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality.  We have the knowledge and ability to rectify the damage caused by irresponsible waste management.  With knowledge comes great responsibility and it's time we stepped up to plate.  It seems that technology may play a major supporting role in the process of mending our polluted environment but human innovation is the starring role and I believe we all need to support the evolution of technology consciously responsible for our shared environment.  Can technology support the enormous role of educating the global community? What are some of the most efficient ways to mend our habits and maintain consciousness?  How can we do it simultaneously with the international community?


Dickerson. J., & Kisling, F. (2009). Global and electronic waste: Information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60.

Kasper, A., Bernardes, A., & Veit, H. (2011). Characterization and recovery of polymers from mobile phone scrap. Waste Management & Research: The Journal of The International Solid Wastes & Public Cleansing Association, ISWA, 29(7), 714-726.

Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary.  Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy, 12(6),587-589.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Same Same But Different

There is no denying that humanity has been re-discovering new ways of how to build relationships with digital technology, online information, and online communities world wide.  For some, digital technology is an accost to their senses, for others a means to keep their attentions engaged.  The reach of digital information extends the boundaries of the earth and can circle back again at almost the speed of light.  I love the possibilities that this opens for humanity and it frightens me all the same.  

Digital technology is reshaping the way we come into contact with new information, the way we share information, and the very information we share.  I loved the articles this week because, while they touched on these very empowering aspects of human communication, collaboration and perspective sharing, they also depicted similar skepticism toward the conflictions between "democratic functions of journalism, such as the fostering of an informed electorate, the uncovering of official abuses and institutional corruption, and contributions open and inclusive dialogue around matters of public concern that it supports" (Mihailidis, P., & Shumow, M., 2011, p.32).  It is true that many have abused the privilege of online public communication forums, and it has led to corruption and misuse of online public media.  But that begs the question, hasn't public communication always been abused by some?  Is online media reporting any different?  Perhaps the scale and magnitude of misinformation is greater?  Haven't politicians abused and manipulated public media and advertising for centuries?  

The most intriguing questions for me are how can we hold those who abuse and misuse digital technologies accountable?  How can we come to a universal agreement on what abuse and misuse is?  Mihailidis & Shumow (2011) reinforce the notion that there is "need for new parameters in the conceptualization of journalism and its sources of authority for future communicators working within digital media environments".  What could those new parameters be?  Is there a possibility for future sources of authority within digital media environments?  Do they already exist? 


Mihailidis, P., & Shumow, M. (2011). Theorizing journalism education, citizenship, and new media technologies in a global media age. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 7(1), 27-47. 


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Technology in the classroom: Engaging or Distraction?

Is technology in the education system helping students become more engaged in their learning process?  After all of the studies, literature, and debates, I'll be honest, I just cannot answer that question.  There are so many differing theories on student engagement and technology just seems to be a tool that, like it or not, is a part of our Western culture.  Parsons and Taylor (2011, p. 4) quotes Carlson (2005) describing a professor's experience that technology just seems to be distracting students from focusing on the tasks in the classroom, using their mobile devices to socialize which limits their development of self-discipline.  And while I tend to agree that this may very well be the current reality of classroom experience I can't help but wonder if the other side of the debate trumps the argument.

If I think about my own experience growing up, I watched a considerable number of movies.  My entire family actually spent countless hours watching movies together on those rainy or blizzard-y days when you can't run a-muck outside.  We then spent subsequent hours quoting hilarious lines, re-enacting scenes and often filming each other and watching our own creations.   I remember teachers snubbing the idea of showing films or videos in class but to be honest, I might have done much better if the concepts of Algebra could have been more exciting to watch on film versus my Math teacher writing examples in chalk on the blackboard or referring to the lifeless examples in the text.  Could I have expected that all students back then had the same relationship with film as I had? No, but I wonder how much more engaged I (and most likely many others) might have been in Mathematics had there been a few films to flush out the content for the diversity of learners that were inevitably in that classroom.  Parsons & Taylor (2011) explain the idea that education is morphing from the earliest years to the highest academic years, and they "strongly feel that we fail to meet the needs of students who have grown up in a digital world and are hearing into different cultural and economic futures that are rich in ever-advancing technology and information"(p.5).  I wonder if we have been failing for a much longer duration than we're acknowledging.

If you spent your whole life engaged with internet, social media, online gaming, virtual worlds, mobile devices, online dating sites, email, distance education, Blogging, and the list goes on, how could you possibly feel a sense of belonging, engaged, or included in an education that didn't provide those same mediums that form the fabric of your existence as you know it?  Technology is engaging because the students are one with it, they understand the world with it, not without it.  It is true that there are many distractions that come with online technology especially for students who are just developing their concentration and self-discipline skills, but there are endless opportunities to explore which ways we can harness these devices to ensure that educators are "developing and implementing targeted interventions and additional practical strategies in the context of new media technology-pervasive learning environments that will ultimately enhance learning" (Arnone, Small, Chauncey, & McKenna, 2011, p.194).  Pedagogy leads the effectiveness of technology implementation for student learning but, perhaps the technology itself is also the means of engagement for a digital native? 


Arnone, M.P., Small, R.V., Chauncey, S.A., McKenna, H.P. (2011). Curiosity, interest and engagement in technology-pervasive learning environments: a new research agenda. Association for Educational Communications and Technology. 59, 181-198.

Parsons, J., & Taylor, L. (2011). Student engagement: What do we know what should we know? University of Alberta, 1-59. Retrieved from:

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Possibilities of M-Learning

In 2008 I taught in a High School that banned cell phones from the premises.  Students would be reprimanded and relinquished of the mobile device for an entire week if caught.  Teachers were strongly encouraged to uphold this policy.  Only 4 years later, I am discovering that mobile learning is the newest supplement for student learning.  

The possibilities brought to the forefront of this new m-teaching opportunity are just beginning to blossom and unfold as we consider the benefits of lower costs, the unlimited flexibility of learning environments, and the convenience of access (Nedungadi & Raman, 2012).  M-learning even goes so far as to address the socio-economic barriers because it provides "a cheaper alternative for schools in rural areas that do not have access to e-learning resources such as computers or reliable internet access" (Nedungadi & Raman, 2012, p. 661). 

There are always setbacks when considering new innovations to technology integration within the school setting such as pedagogical implementations with technology in curriculum, challenges with submitting assignments from devices, difficulties with multiple student collaboration, insufficient mobile infrastructures within schools, etc., etc. (Crichton, Pegler & White, 2012, p. 29).  Some secondary students found the integration of mobile devices more hassle than they were worth as Crichton et al. (2012) points out, "...struggle to find the educational uses for the devices...high school students initially appeared to "resent" the intrusion of school issued personal devices..."(p. 29).  

As a high school teacher, I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities for better integration and am hopeful that students will engage in the collaboration process with me to discover what we can do to work with m-learning.  I like that I can access students in any environment.  I feel that this will greatly improve my professional working relationship with them if I can access them in social situations, including at home.  I do wonder where the boundaries will be drawn. Is this something I could address with the student and their family?  Is family/teacher collaboration on mobile learning a realistic possibility?  What are the inevitable barriers to this form of student/teacher interaction?  Will there be other doors that open in terms of student learning and engagement?  I'm excited to learn what they might be!


Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: lessons learned from an ipod touch / ipad project. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning10(1), 23-31. Retrieved from:

Nedungadi, P., & Raman, R. (2012). A new approach to personalization: integrating e-Learning and m-learning. Educational Technology Research And Development60(4), 659-678. Retrieved from:

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Technology and Lifestyles

Assistive technology (AT) has enabled hundreds of thousands of disabled individuals access to the mainstream academic curriculum and regular instruction of schools. The examples illustrated throughout this weeks instruction of students (and parents and teachers and student peers) that have been positively influenced by the brilliant technological advances has been nothing less than miraculous in my mind (Ellis, K., 2009).  

As Coleman (2011) discussed in her study of assistive technology, appropriate implementation "is crucial for increasing the level of participation in education, employment, and independent living to levels similar to peers without disabilities" (p.3). So why hasn't appropriate implementation of these valuable tools taken over the entire disabled world? Learning about the outcomes of AT for individuals with disabilities, it was difficult to image how parents and teachers could possibly ignore or abandon the implementation of these devices for the benefit of a child/student. It seems crystal clear that students struggling with disabilities would be able to overcome their difficulties if they just made the extra effort to learn how to integrate a particular tool into their lives.

It seems that the greatest struggles students have in seamlessly integrating AT into their lives is that their teachers struggle to gain the support and training necessary to learn about how to teach and implement AT, as well as how to identify which AT is the most beneficial for each student's diverse needs. Coleman (2009) discusses at great length the fact that there are "high abandonment and under use"(p.4) rates of AT in schools but there are many other factors influencing implementation. It isn't just teachers that need training with AT devices but also parental training as well to ensure the student has support in both academic and family environments (2009, p. 6). The age of a student is also influential in the implementation process. Not only are students trying to learn the curriculum as it is being taught but also the new device. It has been suggested that this may be remedied if the student is taught at the earliest possible stage in their academic career (2009, p. 8).There is also the idea of social stigma not just for the student who is struggling with identity and self-esteem but also the parents, depending on cultural values.

I wonder now how to get past these barriers because the opportunity for these students when they are given AT are too important to ignore. Is it possible for teachers to get the training and support they need to be competent AT implementers? What about students who missed the early implementation of their devices, what are the best ways to motivate and inspire their acceptance and engagement with AT? What are the lines one must draw to be both respectful of diverse family values and promote the best educational options for students with disabilities?

Coleman, M.  (2011).  Successful Implementation of Assistive Technology to Promote Access to Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Physical Disabilities. Physical Disabilities:  Education And Related Services, 30(2), 2-22.  Retrieved from:

Ellis, K. (2009). Assistive Technology Enabling Dreams. Edutopia Retrieved from:

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Path of Least Resistance: Social Media and Relationships

The Path, Photo of myself (2011)
Energy takes the path of least resistance; it's the law of physics.  As I explore the complexities of how and why humans are utilizing technology, I can't help but wonder, are humans using social media as the path of least resistance?  Sacks and Graves (2012) point out all too clearly that "the use of social media lends itself well to many of the impression management techniques...such as personal branding (p. 80) which provides individuals with a quick and simple tool to pick and choose the best images that create immediate impressions on those that view the tailored profile.  Immediate consideration of this opportunity sounds incredible.  Within minutes, anyone can create custom tailored profile suitable for any image an individual wishes to portray.  Are we concerned at all about perfectionism, vanity or narcissism when creating the self-brand? How many imperfect Avatars are being created or profiles that include pictures of our bad hair, wrinkles, or when we're feeling unfit?                    

The amount of time needed to create a real life image requires repetitive physical/social interaction, sensory acquisition, emotional engagement and is dependent upon a continual impression based on how you and the other individual/s behave.  Pollet, Roberts, and Dunbar (2011) explain it perfectly when they state, "Time is a crucial constraint shaping primate sociality, and recent diary studies...have shown that time spent using a computer does negatively affect time spent interacting... (p. 256). Social networking sites, online messaging, texting, emailing, are all ways to create a highly efficient forum for interacting, creating an impression, building a reputation that doesn't require the confidence of face-to-face verbal conversation but may give the impression of confidence.  And what about the idea of building character?  Are we no longer concerned about real life human integrity?  How do we create that in a matter of hours or days? Can we trust the images we are being provided with?  

Relationships are being formed online via new virtual societies and Brown (2011) indicates that "we will see an increasing transition from basic matchmaking sites to sites that enable people to actually go out on online dates" (p. 30).  It seems even love is happening with less effort and takes the saying, "falling effortlessly in love" to a whole new dimension.  Have we forgotten the saying, "if it wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be worth it?"  I can't help but wonder if we're short changing the journey for the end results, and feeling less satiated because of it.

I love what technology has enabled us to accomplish, "bringing people together who would not otherwise be in the same place for business meetings, financial planning, meal sharing" (Brown, A., 2012, p.34) online education, and perhaps we are enabled to express ourselves with less restraint because of the space, time, and consideration writing provides us with; "greater self-disclosure and thus for communication to become unusually intimate and hyper-personal, leading to stronger relationships" (Pollet et al., 2011, p. 257).  I also love making an effort, being brave, trying new things, facing my insecurities, stepping out of my comfort zones and if there is a balance to be achieved between online and offline relationships it will need the acknowledgement of the masses. Mutual agreement and understanding in what habits/behaviours are acceptable need to be met.  If there are those who wish to live and build relationships in the virtual world, will they influence the potential for others who wish to live and build relationships in the real world? Are they willing to forgo the path of least resistance?


Brown, A. (2011). Relationships, community, and identity in the new virtual society. The Futurist, 45(2), 29-34. Retrieved from:
 Pollet, T. V., Roberts, S. G. B., &  Dunbar, R. I. M. (2011). Use of social network sites and instant messaging does not lead to increased offline social network size, or to emotionally closer relationships with offline network members. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(4), 253-258. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0161
Sacks, M., & Graves, N. (2012). How many "friends" do you need? Teaching students how to network using social media. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(1), 80-88.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Digital Footprints in the Sand

You leave footprints on the internet, just as you leave fingerprints on everything you touch.  Our online existence is like our digital DNA and while you type in your searches, click your preferences, navigate through the sites, "every movement, every transaction, every record - is woven into a single virtual database" which is and will always be your individual "digital footprint" (Weaver, S.D. & Gahegan, M., 2007, p. 329).  Are you mindful of this every time you log on to your internet?  Does this information change the way you perceive, interact, and live your online existence? Please visit Lisa Nielson's website for effective ways to take control of your digital footprint (Nielson, L., 2011).  I found this site illuminating!

Do you know that most of your choices, preferences and interactions are being tracked, observed, tapped, surveyed and/or used by marketing companies?  Kligiene (2012, p.71) explains that "personal data are the new fuel for the internet and the true currency of [the] digital world".  He goes on to confirm that the majority of most internet users would not give permission to online companies to use "behavioural advertising", and though efforts have been made by public policy-makers to protect the privacy of digital citizens, these protection rights are insufficient.

Do you think it is important for e-society to be well informed of these issues?  Do you believe digital citizens have a right to privacy, and a right to say whether they consent to the public use of their digital footprints or not?  Technology, if used in an ethical context can provide the e-world with extraordinary benefits however, there is ample room for data-errors which can later be used against an individual and in the digital context Weaver and Gahegan (2007, p. 345) agree, "guilt by association in these spaces becomes more prevalent and the number of coincidences necessary to significantly"colour" one's digital persona decreases...the ability to manipulate digital personae or to misinterpret them increases."

With your privacy and safety concerns in check, you can take this knowledge and put it to use by creating a digital footprint that benefits e-society (Richardson, W. 2008, p.18).  Manoeuvring through your digital existence with integrity, strength of good character, high moral standards, and a code of ethics will contribute to your online communities in a positive, educational way. We need to be aware of our rights and privacy in order to set a good example for children who look to adults and educators to set the example for safe, respectful, and open methods of communication (Cassidy, W. Brown, K. & Jackson, M., 2012, p. 529) because we never know who or how others may be observing our digital footprints.   How does this influence your future online choices?


Cassidy, W., Brown, K. N., & Jackson, M. (2012). ‘Under the radar’: Educators and cyberbullying in schools. School Psychology International, 33(5), 520–532.  Retrieved from:

Kligienė, S. (2012). Digital footprints in the context of professional ethics. Informatics In Education11(1), 65-79.  Retrieved from:

Nielsen, Lisa. (2011, August 19).  Discover what your digital footprint says about you.  The Innovative Educator.  Retrieved from:

Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership66(3), 16-19.  Retrieved from:

Weaver, S. D., & Gahegan, M. (2007). Constructing, visualizing and analyzing a digital footprint. Geographical Review97(3), 324-350.  Retrieved from: