Debates Round 4 – The Final Showdowns

Welcome everyone to the final week of the EDTC Debates as well as the final week of this class. It has been a great journey and thank you all for following with me. With that being said, lets get right into the first debate this week!

This first debate was a very interesting one, as it involved three different arguments. The topic: Cellphones should be banned in the classroom. Here are the notes I collected from the three debaters.

In all grades (Stevie)

  • We model good behaviour, so we should show students not to rely on their phones
  • Some students spend 11-12 hours a day on their phones and need a break.
  • Being off their phones creates a sense of relief. No pressure. Less anxious
  • Less distracted, less cheating, less addiction
  • Health concerns arise from too much phone use.

In K-8 only (Sarah W.)

  • Being on phones too early effects social learning
  • “Away for the day” or “phoneless classrooms”
    • Students asked to engage with each other not their devices
    • Builds relationships within their classrooms not their phones
  • In high school, they are able to make their own choices
  • Helps with bullying. Interactions should be face-to-face
  • Disclosure and consent should be considered
  • Many phones are damaged in school
  • Empathy is an issue due to technology use

Never (Kelsey)

  • The aim was to refocus students on learning
  • More engagement
    • Participation is encouraged through hashtags, message boards, etc.
    • Encourages group discussions
  • New and Relevant teachings
    • Easier and more relevant access to info
    • Opportunity to teach digital citizenship and literacy
  • Helpful for students and teachers
    • Tech is already in the classroom
    • There are lots of great apps
    • Good for time management
    • Takes away choice
    • Students will still find ways to sneak them in.

This was a really great debate and brought up A LOT of points for all sides.

While it was overall agreed that cellphones should not be banned in all grades, Stevie did bring up a lot of real concerns that cell phones create in a classroom and in peoples everyday lives. Addiction is probably the biggest of these issues and we see this in the study she found where many kids spend upwards of 11-12 hours on their devices, and maybe it is not great to be fuelling that addiction in our classes. There is a lot to be said about creating a classroom environment where students can take a break from their phones and not solely rely on them.

Moving to the K-8 side led by Sarah W. this was the position that many held by the end of the debate. Some of the biggest discussions around this was idea of building classroom connection rather than connections through their phones through projects like “Away for the day“. As well, there was the idea that in the earlier grades, not everyone has a phone anyways, so it becomes more difficult to decide who gets to use their phone and who doesn’t. When it comes to that first point, I really enjoyed the CTV article she linked about the initiative to remove cell-phones in K-8 schools in Saskatchewan. A quote from one of the teachers mentioned how “everybody’s talking to each other and it’s more social. It’s better at lunch time and going on buses” which again related to this crucial idea about developing social skills and friendships in the classrooms, which creates a better overall school environment. With that being said as students progress into high school, I think we need to release the reins a little bit, and give students the opportunity to make their own choices as they progress towards adulthood.

Finally, moving to the last side, which is the one I initially agreed with, Kelsey fought for the side that we should never ban cell phones in any grade. She brought up a lot of really great points about developing digital literacy early as well as all the benefits technology and cell-phones add to a classroom. In the article she linked, “Using Technology to Promote Mobile Learning: Engaging Students With Cell Phones in the Classroom” it talks about how when proper cell phone policies are implemented, then you are able to start exploring the benefits that cell phones can bring. The fact is, students are getting younger when they get their first device, so why not use that to our advantage whenever possible? 

Our next debate was between Paige and Richelle, who focused on the topic: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression. Here are the notes I compiled from both sides.

(Paige) Agree

  • Equity and diversity in education is important
  • Tech has the potential to make a huge impact
  • We should show how to create a positive change.
  • Give students the opportunity to share their voice (empower students)
  • Students should feel safe and should know we are standing up for diversity.
  • It fuels every academic subject

(Richelle) Disagree

  • It’s not that we shouldn’t fight for it, its just that we should not do it as an educator online
  • Tech makes it hard to get your points across clearly
  • Doesn’t have the same effect as doing it in person
  • Can get out of hand (trolls)
  • Can become a “performance”
  • Can cause conflict within the school community
  • It’s not our responsibility to stand up for every issue

Paige had some really great arguments for the agree side and how technology has the potential to create change and as teachers, we are not just educating our students, we are educators all the time and should look to educate everyone we can. One quote that stuck out to me from her article was that “Learning about social justice at a young age prepares children to be informed, young adults”. Technology creates a new way to share our voices and stand up for others and as teachers we should model that for our students whenever we can. 

On the other side, Richelle also brought up some great points in her video. Technology can actually hinder our stances on social justice if we do not use it properly or if used insincerely. As her article points out, there are a lot of other negatives that come from using technology to promote social justice and especially looking at it from the perspective of an educator, while it may create better relationships with some, it can also damage many relationships from people who have different views. As well, one of the biggest issues with the topic was the word responsibility. Jesse brought up how he is someone who rarely uses social media in the first place. In that case, he should not have to feel the responsibility to now use social media as a teacher, right? 

To conclude, I have really enjoyed every single debate. They have each had me think about these topics from all sides which has helped me form my own opinions on the matter, which is extremely important as I look to become an educator.

Once again, I want to thank you for tuning in and if you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments! If you would like to connect with me on Twitter as well, feel free to do so 🙂

-Caleb

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