Author Archives: sparksc

Designing a Better Future for our Students

For my final artifact, I decided to try my hand at a twitter essay. This was actually one of my first experiences with Twitter (other than our in-class task). I actually found it much more suited to my style than some of the more visual multimedia choices. As I tend to be a more verbose person, being able to articulate my thoughts in words (with pictures as an enhancement) was far easier. Still, there were certainly challenges. Having to parse your thoughts into 300 character snip its is certainly a challenge. However, I would certainly attempt to try this form of media again and could even see myself utilising this as an assignment for my future students.



As to the content of the essay, I delved into the Technologist training module on e campus Ontario. This is an incredibly handy resource that both teaches a teacher how to become digitally literate and how to make sure the technology being used is the most effective tool for the job. While incredibly useful, you would have to be a digital expert just to navigate all the information provided. Each tab had snippets of information with the bulk of the knowledge hidden behind a plethora of hyperlinks. It certainly is not an intuitive website which seems rather ironic for a website that’s promoting digital literacy among educators.


When discussing digital skills, I found that the resource all aboard  was efficient in laying out what skills an educator needs to develop to be successful. As well, the following TED talk did a great job of explaining digital literacies and the problems of not being literate in the 21st century.


The module then went into great lengths to discuss the Design Teaching Approach. I had absolutely no idea what that was, but the following video helped clarify it for me.

After reading through the module, I realised that I had utilised this process before without realising it. When I noticed students struggling to understand stoichiometry, I asked them what the issue was. After learning that the main issue was that they couldn’t visualize the reaction or what was occurring, I looked online for resources that might help clarify. Upon finding pHET, I found an awesome module that shows the products and reactants as both “normal concepts” (sandwiches) and molecules. Bringing this tool back to the students helped clarify the concepts and brought to their attention an awesome new resource to use in science understanding. Whilst this didn’t utilise all the DTA steps, it is founded in the same roots of empathizing, designing, ideating, and prototyping. I believe this is certainly the approach that should be taken whenever we look to incorporate technology into the classroom.

Overall, understanding digital technology and being able to use the DTA is all in an effort to be able to differentiate the instruction. This is important in the 21st century where one of the top priorities of any educator is to make sure that their classroom is equitable for all students. One way to achieve this is to make sure that all information being taught can reach all types of learners. Educators should use multiple forms of media and techniques to make sure that all learners can receive the full benefit of learning.


Have your search results been tampered with without you knowing?

For this reflection, I decided to read the article “Digital Redlining, Access, and Privacy” by Chris Gilliard. In this article, the concept of digital redlining is discussed. This is the concept that many students do not have the same access to information as others. Some may simply not have access to personal devices (computers, phones, tablets) at their homes. Others may only have access to these devices in public settings like libraries or schools. This introduces the concept of digital redlining. By having to use public resources, students may encounter acceptable use policies (AUPs). These policies can restrict and filter the information that a student can see and access on the Internet. Students may not even realize that there is any information on a topic due to this. This can create a divide of available information between students of a lower socioeconomic class who may not have access to an unrestricted Internet experience and those of a higher stratus who may have a larger access.

Before reading this article and exploring the issue, I hadn’t considered the concept of redlining. For most of my life, I had access to a personal computer outside of a controlled environment. As such, the concept of digital redlining hadn’t occurred to me. However, reading the article made reflect on my grade 9 year. After moving to a rural home in a new city, we were without Internet for the entire year. As such, access to news, social media, and online entertainment was barred to me. Being the late 2000s, phones with a data plan were still a rarity. As such, when assigned research projects for my classes, I had to make due with using the school computers at lunch. This limited the amount of time I was able to research. After reading this article, I find myself wondering if it also limited the information that I found on the topics. It’s possible that information sources were filtered from the results. The difference between my experience with research projects in grade 9 and subsequent years is vast. Once I had access to digital resources outside of the school again, I had far more flexibility in when I could research. I was also able to research anything I wanted at my leisure. Finally, I was able to participate in peer-peer networking again, something prohibited by my school’s AUP. If I were to have been so restricted for my entire adolescence, I can see how my way of thinking could have changed.

Going forward, I have a new appreciation for taking into consideration different student’s access to information. I will now know to critically examine my school’s AUP and to try and facilitate an equitable classroom with it in mind. Knowing that students have different access to technology, I will provide extra, external resources where necessary to help make up for a student’s lack of access.

For this reflection, I created a mind map using mindmeister. Creating a mind map proved to be a challenge. Sorting through the concepts posited by Gilliard and sorting them into a mind map proved to be quite challenging. The medium itself was fairly easy to use. Creating the branches and subbranches was easy and fairly effortless. However, the options for design were extremely limited, allowing for little creativity in that regard. Also, at the time of posting, I realized that to save the image, you had to buy the premium version. As such, I had to take screenshots of each branch and hope that that is sufficient. However, please see below for a link to the online version.

Mind Map

Ghosts of Teaching Strategies Past in the Class

Reading “Digital Ghosts in the Modern Classroom” by Ashley Hinck has given me a new perspective on teaching in schools and how that can bleed into other aspects of life. In it, she talks of how many of the digital programs that students use have a ‘drag-and-drop’ template. When using these programs, there is minimal input from the student. The template and format are already set, and the student can only exhibit influence creative divergence. This format of one correct way to do something is a direct parallel to how information is passed to students in schools. There is typically one correct way to do things, with any deviation being penalized with a lower grade. This can in turn make the student afraid to experiment with different formats and technologies.

By mainstreaming digital applications and school, students are unprepared for the more open ended aspects of design, including using HTML coding. Teachers should try to engage their students in more creative and exploratory projects that are more open ended. This can allow the student freedom to explore without worrying they are deviating too far from an “A” level project.

While I overall agree with the article, I will say I don’t agree with every aspect. There seems to be a complete condemnation of the template structure of many digital applications. For some, such as myself, the creative aspect of projects comes a little slower than others. Having a template to start with can be a great gateway into more creative projects. I will agree with Hinck in that dependency on these templates can become a disadvantage. However, I think they have a use to help people start out in their digital journey of creativity.

If the image doesn’t load properly, please check out the link for the online version of the piktochart.