Blog Post 5

Three things that you may be able to put into practice in your teaching and how they could impact your learners

With the understanding of Western cultural traditions impacting teaching pedagogy, teachers need to look closely at how to utilize different designs and the understanding other cultural groups will take away from these as not to add to critical pedagogy.  Teachers need to create an open program where students do not feel the power difference and are able to safely explore and share cultural values. This course has made me aware that culture, such as language and customs, are important in the multi-lingual society (Chen et al, 1999).

The idea of teaching has changed in the 21st century in that teachers are now more of a co-collaborator than someone who delivers material to memorize and repeat. Technology has created a shift towards independent, student led inquiry modes of learning. Technology has become more than a tool in the classroom, but it changes the process of learning. Digital literacy is the interest, attitude and ability to use digital technology in order to manage, access and analyze information, make new knowledge, and communicate with others (B.C. Government, n.d.). The change that technology has created has shown me that we need to teach students how to think critically, and to evaluate and find information in order to be successful in our digital world. I have noticed in my own practice that students are great with technology that involves gaming systems but when it comes to information finding they struggle, and it is our job to help students become digitally fluent in all aspects. Digital pedagogy is about understanding the impact of digital tools on learning and not about how to use the tools. We need to understand who is benefiting from different tools and make sure it aligns with our teaching pedagogy.

Creating a space such as a Wiki or Third Space can be a great way for teachers to share values and ongoing learning.  Cauruthers and Friend (2014) talk about how creating a space that is safe is important to have all members contribute and ideas to flow freely. Caruthers and Friend (2014) talk about creating Third Space as a place to discuss critical pedagogy. I think that in a place where we are hearing more about the impact of racism and oppression, we need to be committed to promoting social justice and having a safe place to discuss this, and this can be a role for technology. The BC curriculum has embedded Indigenous teachings and having a place to talk about how to do this effectively would in turn combat the fear faced by teachers when embarking on this task.

 

Two things that you need to be increasingly aware of in your current use of technology that you would like to change or improve

 

Critical Pedagogy

How can we build platforms that support learning across age, race, culture, gender, ability, geography? When utilizing technology we need to be aware of critical pedagogy. The idea of critical pedagogy is that the curriculum and school systems have a hidden curriculum that teaches to the dominant race while oppressing others. The curriculum has a Eurocentric epistemology which influences how teachers teach information that can oppress others (Caruthers and Friend, 2014). Caruthers and Friend talk about the use of first person, which means using the dominant voice to silence groups or individuals, and that we need to take a more critical look to make sure voice is used for one’s history and culture to derive meaning through interactions. In spaces of technology/online learning we need to make sure we are not silencing those voices by creating an environment that is safe, eliminating the power differences and connecting to others (Caruthers & Friend, 2014). This study suggests that ignoring cultural differences in online environments is not beneficial, and that cultural differences need to be shared in order to create an environment of understanding and support.

 

Indigenous innovations

In the article Supporting Self-Determined Indigenous Innovations: Rethinking the Digital Divide in Canada, I learned  about how the Indigenous voices need to be heard and thought of as creators not consumers (Winter and Boudreau, 2018). Through this article I learned that it is important to prioritize Indigenous voices. Winter and Boudreau (p.40, 2018) state, “we argue that international literature continues to focus far too heavily on what technology can do for Indigenous people – not what Indigenous peoples have and can do with technology”. This thought does not allow Indigenous knowledge to be celebrated. The article mentions how storytelling can be so powerful and that this can be done in a digital format allowing Indigenous youth to understand their culture and identity and to connect with others (Winter and Boudreau, 2014). This article talks about using video games in order to explore culture and attract youth, yet often videogames are depicting old views of Indigenous lives (Winter and Boudreau, 2018). The article goes on to talk about makerspaces being provided and that it would allow cultural learning and be able to adapt to many learning styles (Winter and Boudreau, 2018). In the education system, I see primarily Caucasian people teaching Indigenous culture. My district has hired an Indigenous worker for each school to help with the infusion of Indigenous traditions and these are steps in the right direction, but if we had digital storytelling it would allow many to access the knowledge.

 

One recommendation you would like to make to your institution about the use of technology that would have a potentially wider impact across the institution

 

I think that a better understanding of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is needed in our school systems. King-Sears (p.199, 2009) states, “When educators employ these principles in the design and delivery of instruction, accommodations noted on individualized education plans (IEPs) for students with learning disabilities (LD) may more naturally occur in general education classrooms”. The main features of UDL were started in architecture, when designs were made to build structures to create access to all, one example being door handles instead of door knobs. Another example of this feature applied is creating captions for television (King-Sears, 2009). UDL has seven principles that make an environment more usable by more people without need for adaptation. This can happen when educators provide different modes of learning to suit multiple abilities. This is happening more naturally in the classroom but needs to be explored more. Examples from my own classroom is when working with math there are multiple different manipulatives in order to support learning, such as dice, counters, and 100’s charts. When participating in a novel study there is the option to listen to an audio book, teacher read, or self-read. This helps create a more equitable use of material, which is one of the seven guiding principles of UDL.

 

One thing that could help improve teaching with technology in your area

One thing that could help improve teaching with technology in my area would be the ability to participate in more professional development. Teachers often feel overwhelmed with the amount of work to be completed, and the thought of learning more in their free time can feel overwhelming. If that was not an option, then someone offering ideas of where to start with self-directed learning on the Web 2.0 would be beneficial, as there is so much to explore and often the thought can overwhelm teachers. Teachers’ job performance was altered drastically during the pandemic learning, requiring all learners to go online without notice, and teachers were forced into a role that they were not entirely comfortable with. Web 2.0 technologies are not static information and we move away from static information towards interactive fast past learning, where students and adults are expected to become critical thinkers in a digital world.

 

References:

 

B.C. Government. (n.d.). BC’s digital literacy framework.                https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/kindergarten-to-grade-12/teach/teaching-     tools/digital-literacy-framework.pdf

 

Caruthers, L., & Friend, J. (2014). Critical pedagogy in online environments as thirdspace: A        narrative analysis of voices of candidates in educational preparatory programs.           Educational Studies, 50(1), 8-35. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131946.2013.866953

 

Chen, A. Y., Mashhadi, A., Ang, D., & Harkrider, N. (1999, December 16). Cultural issues in the            design of technology‐enhanced learning systems. British Journal of Educational         Technology, 30(3), 217– https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8535.00111

4 Comments

  1. Hi Alison,

    I appreciate your comment about professional development. I agree that all the technology options can seem overwhelming just to learn, nevermind implement in an effective and meaningful way. I too would appreciate some quality professional development in learning how to effectively use some of these technologies in my classroom.

    By the rest of your post it sounds like you have learned a tremendous amount in this course! All the best in the future.

  2. I totally agree with your point that providing an opportunity for teachers to grow as professionals are improving teacher’s performance and learning outcomes. Switching to online class delivery and creating tech-based content was an overwhelming challenge for teachers and course instructors in my school. It was a sad experience to see many great professional educators resigning because of burn-outs and stress during the pandemic time.

  3. Alison, I like how your district has an Indigenous worker for each school to help with the infusion of Indigenous traditions. I think that would provide a more authentic perspective when teaching about this. At our school we don’t have a specific Indigenous worker, but try to attend field trips that are run by Indigenous families. We also have in-class field trips where Indigenous instructors share their culture and get the students involved in activities such as soap-stone carving , drum making or ceremonial dances. I find the students remember and appreciate these experiences far more than just the written text.

  4. Hi Alison,

    I think digital storytelling is still an under-utilized genre in both K-12 and post secondary and it is also a way to facilitate indigenous sudents bringing their own experience and culture into the classroom.

    I did an interview with Jason Ohler over decade ago about digital storytelling and used this for an edtech course I taught at UVic. Here’s an example from one of his workshops.

    https://youtu.be/Bw4lEdsd_fo

    https://archive.org/details/InterviewWithJasonOhler

    Professional development is much less available in K-12 than post secondary but needed just as much if not more. I think it’s an investment with a much greater multiplying factor that buying more gear (not that it should be an either/or).

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