Blog Post #1 – Stanford Forum

I found the Cambridge forum radio program quite interesting. I listened to it in the evening and found myself thinking about it persistently throughout the next day.  I even surreptitiously brought up the juicier tidbits, like Edison’s use of the word “hello”, into conversation with some of my students to get their thoughts about the concepts that were discussed. Notably, at the beginning of the talk, Dr. O’Donnell talks about how many new technologies come with positive gains, but potentially also serious loss. He likens text technology to a new frontier that rapidly transcends being new and becomes the regular culture. He went on to illustrate this point with notion that we have become so dependent on the positive aspects of the automobile that we are willing to self-bargain away the loss of life, in the tens of thousands, due to traffic accidents. He suggests that this is a deal we consciously make in a cultural step towards progress, especially with new text technologies.

It is an interesting idea but I think it is problematic because I don’t think that human beings are all that rational or logical when it comes to most of our choices – particularly around “progress”. Rather, I would posit that, in fact, our very ability to disregard objective cost/benefit analysis when it doesn’t work in our favour is the only reason we can adapt to new technologies in the first place. This idea has been studied in psychology in experiments like the Milgram experiment (Milgram, 1963) and the Stanford prison experiment (O’Toole, 1997) where it seemed that ordinary people were willing to torture others simply because they were told to rather than objectively or rationally make moral or ethical decisions.

With regards to text technologies, take, for example, the new social landscape where digital social networks reign supreme. Many of us have stories where connecting through Facebook allowed us to reconnect with long lost friends, or find distant relatives, and so on. More importantly, grassroots, decentralized, text based social media dependent campaigns on platforms like Twitter seem to be responsible for massive sociological tide changes such as the occupy movement or the Arab spring. Indeed the new ability to create digital, self-published, open access word and sound bites can be seen as a far better approach to spreading democracy than through armed conflict.

This is the macro scale positive effects, but what about the micro scale? Typically, many people in the west have relatively easy access to text based forms of digital social networks. People can blog, text, message, email, Facebook message, tweet and so on. They can send messages to the general public or to individuals. They can enter forums to discuss ideas of any kind and join a digital community that is willing to provide support, belonging, and acceptance.

But then why are there rising rates of depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and general mental health issues with youth who would, on the surface, be the most adept practitioners or, endemic natives of the ‘new frontier’ (Levine, 2006). How is it that they are indigenous to the digital social media world and yet be alienated by it?  Even harmed by our new technologies it if we look at tragic stories like what happened to Amanda Todd and others like her.

On the macro scale, clearly the powers that be are not happy with what this new frontier has to offer. For example, the U.K. is currently calling for massive changes to the way that its citizens’ private information is monitored. Closer to home, the U.S.A., a supposed champion of rights and freedoms, has been caught (CBC News, 2013) secretly spying on it’s own citizens.

So, are these the trade offs that Dr. O’Donnell was talking about? Am I willing to be spied on by government to have the benefit of technological connectivity? Am I willing to accept that people will suffer rising rates of mental health issues so that I can experience the world digitally? No and no. These are not choices nor are they acceptable bargains, rather I think society does its best to hide, ignore, and potentially justify these problems as long as the perceived benefit is there.



CBC News. (2013, November 27). CBC News. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from CBC News:
Levine, M. (2006). The Price of Privilege. New York: Harper Collins.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioural Study of Obedience. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from

O’Toole, K. (1997, August 1). The Stanford Prison Experiment: Still powerful after all these years. Retrieved September 11, 2014, from Stanford News Service:

Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Hello from the Maritimes

Technology Contrasts

Hello from the Maritimes! My name is Riea Elder and I’m currently taking my 8th and 9th course. I’m at the home stretch and feeling pretty good about it. When I’m not sitting in front of the computer reading MET material, I’m sitting in front of the computer at work where I’m the provincial training manager for the Nova Scotia Electronic Medical Records program. I originally moved from Delta, BC 4 years ago with my two teenage children (16 & 17) so I’m enjoying the travelling that comes with my job, even if it’s visiting different hospitals within the province.
My son just graduated from high school and my daughter is in grade 11 so I’m seeing chapters closing in both my education and home life.

I chose this photo because I’ve been fortunate to be able to watch how technology and text has unfolded over the short years, condense and spread rapidly. I feel like I’ve been placed in an age where I am old enough to remember the pains of cursive; understand the patience of reply mail; and know the best place talk to friends over the phone without your parents overhearing yet young enough to know that I have a lot to discover in one single device that carries my life.

Posted in Introductions | 1 Comment

Intro: The Value of Literacy

great stamp USA 1c (The Ability To Write - A Root of Democracy) postzegel postes timbre US postage 1c cent Stamp USA United States of America timbre États-Unis u.s. postage selo Estados Unidos sello USA francobolli Stati Uniti d'America почтовая маркa 1c

My name is Jaclyn Silver and this is my fifth MET course. I teach senior science and math at a rural high school in northern B.C. We actually got our first skiff of snow Sunday night…yuck.

My image is of a stamp that was issued in 1977 as part of the Americana series that celebrated America’s history and values. The “Roots to Democracy” block consisted of four different stamps, each with its own message: the ability to write; a public that reads; the freedom to speak out; and to cast a free ballot.

I live in tiny but culturally diverse community in B.C. where low literacy and high poverty rates are a significant concern. The community recognizes that literacy skills are fundamental to self-empowerment, informed decision-making, and greater participation in local and global issues. Literacy programs, in both English and Carrier, are being developed with aims of promoting equity, inclusion, cultural identity, and active democracy. I hope to use the knowledge and skills I develop in this course to better support this cause. I see that the second module is entitled “Orality and Literacy”. I think that there is great value in exploring how the language of the Carrier people has evolved from oral traditions to pictography to text. I am also interested in further investigating how modern communication technologies can be used to improve literacy and increase civic participation.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Shaimaa Otify Intro

Leveraging Technology

I am Shaimaa. I am originally from Egypt but have been living in Munich Germany for the past 6 years. My interest as well as my experience is in nonformal education. Initially I worked in community development as I facilitated trainings and participated in community development initiatives. Then I worked for a couple of years in the corporate sector. I worked in the research and development department in Business Consulting firms to develop new tools and train consultants. With the move to Germany to join my husband, teaching Arabic to kids (6-8 years) was added to the mix. My heart is still in working with adults and I try to facilitate a training every now and then. I have 3 kids: 6, 3 years and 6 months. This term I am taking my 8th & 9th MET courses. I am interested in this course from two perspectives: the language teacher perspective and the broader educator perspective where reading and writing are the dominant mediums of interaction throughout the education process.

I chose this image as it presents a snapshot of the debate about technology and its impact on life in general and on education specifically. While some may see in this image, technology as leverage to move up, others may comment on getting down again by the technology or the role of “person” who is leveraging and who exactly is being leveraged. It also speaks about different types of technology as in text, sound, image, video, communication, etc…

Looking forward to learning with all of you

Posted in Introductions | 2 Comments

Intro: Josephine Chen

What to read?

I picked this picture from Flickr because the picture is telling a story/ message with a great sense of humour. Has technology replaced books? Text, reading, writing, literacy and media have evolved in a fast paste with the advancement of technology. Written text no longer appear only on printed publications. Technology has opened up a door for text to be shared on different platforms. Moreover, written text is widely used by teenagers on texting. A new language has been created!

Hi this is Josephine Chen. This is my 8th course in MET. I am a high school teacher in Richmond BC. I teach French and ESL (or ELL). I chose this course because text and technology sounds like an interesting topic. Hopefully by learning the evolution of text/ writing/ literacy, I’ll be able to make a better use of the technology in teaching.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Introduction – Hello everyone from Kelowna, B.C.

Kindergarten scout
“Kindergarten Scout” by Matt Eriksson Feb. 10, 2010

Hello Everyone!

My name is Michelle Relova and I am the Vice-Principal at Davidson Rd. Elementary School in Lake Country BC. This is my first full year in this position, as I just recently made the transition last spring. It is a relatively large k-6 school for our district, with approximately 500 students. Early literacy and the development of 21st century skills are always at the forefront of the work that the staff is engaging in, so I am hoping to develop a deeper understanding of how various forms of technology have changed literacy and come away with new ideas on how to support literacy in the digital age. This is my last semester in the MET program and I look forward to learning from and with everyone in this course.

This morning I struggled to find a picture that resonated with me in terms of the reading I completed while exploring the course introduction. For me, literacy, reading, writing, printing, and media are all so intertwined today that it is challenging to find the perfect picture to represent the issues that have been raised. That being said, I have chosen an image that relates to the context that I am situated in. As you can see above I have chosen a picture of a young girl, searching off in the distance through binoculars. In my role, I support our primary team with literacy intervention. The development of oral language for our youngest students is always at the forefront. Among early educators there is a lot of debate around screen time, use of digital devices and the impact on their learning. I look forward to looking at ways that we technology supports the development of early literacy in a meaningful way.



Posted in Introductions | 1 Comment

Introduction: Jamie Out

THINK before you

The reason I chose this image was because I am reminded of the vital education needed in order to create respectful and peaceable digital citizens in our rapidly changing online world. Our words can impact others greatly. They can educate, inspire, challenge, offend, or wound and, just as we must educate and reinforce right from wrong in face to face conversations, the same is true of online interactions. As anonymity is welcomed as a new norm online, it becomes necessary to educate new digital citizens of the impact that their actions and words can have. This “THINK” acronym has crossed my screen a few times this past week as I plan my new year of teaching and feel that it works as a springboard for teaching about the use of text and technology in our everyday lives.

A little more about me. I have just returned from a year of teaching abroad in China and am looking forward to teaching in a new setting back in the Richmond school district (whenever that may start). This is currently my 3rd MET course and when I planned to take this course I was intrigued by the history aspect of things as that was my undergrad major. I see a few familiar faces (Hi Rhena), and am excited to work with new people and gain new ideas and insights from everyone. Good luck all.


Posted in Introductions | 4 Comments

Considering 540, Justine’s Thoughts on the Course

photo credit: Denny Atkinson Literacy_OED

While reading some of the introductory materials I am thinking about the historical perspective of writing. The invention of writing changed the way we thought. Our course overview describes writing as the most radical of any new communication technology. Even Socrates worried about the impact of writing as a new way of communication. He worried that writing things down would inhibit people from thinking for themselves when they had someone else’s thoughts in front of them. He felt that oral communication and discourse was key to making discoveries and to realizing errors. With the advent of digital media, opportunities for interaction and discourse go far beyond text. Digitally written responses can occur at the same speed as oral communication. It is not only the speed of delivery, it is the new forms of delivery available. According to Wikipedia, “text is not the only and main way to communicate. Text is being combined with sounds, and images and being incorporated into movies, billboards, almost any site on the internet, and television. All these ways of communication require the ability to understand a multimedia world.”

I went into MET with an intuitive understanding of my responsibility as a teacher to become more literate with this multi media world; at least to the best of my abilities. I chose this image because I believe literacy must be redefined and as a result, we as teachers must teach beyond the reading and writing process. Not to say we have to become experts in all forms of digital media but we have to allow for these multi-modal expressions of learning in our students. In these, my 8th, 9th and 10th MET courses I am trying to assimilate these understandings of new literacies and their impact on my teaching.


Multiliteracy. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from

Posted in Introductions | Comments Off on Considering 540, Justine’s Thoughts on the Course

Rhena’s Bio

Sound Waves: Loud Volume

Photo Credit: Tess Watson, Sound Waves

Hi ETEC 540!

After reading through some of the introductory material for this course the notion that oral language is typically not deemed as valuable as printed text stood out for me. As a primary teacher the oral vs. literacy debate is one that I often struggle with. At this point I think that the changing space of reading and writing should include more value placed  on spoken communication and newer digital literacies. Technology now allows us to save communication records in many forms besides text (video, images, podcasts etc) and I’m not sure that many curriculums really reflect this shift and engage students in the types of literacies they are familiar with and need to develop skills in.

I am currently taking my 7th and 8th MET course, time has definitely flown by. I’m beginning to see many connections between major themes explored in the courses, but in many ways I feel like I just started this journey. I am currently teaching first grade at Luanda International School. Here is the school’s video, it is not really what I imagined when I moved here four years ago anyway. Currently, my coworker and I are trying to change the space of reading and writing in the grade one programme by opening our class blog to students. First graders have yet to post, but we have visions of great things! 🙂 It’s exciting to move towards more relevant literacies in the classroom, but I’m beginning to realize it also means abandoning some classroom practices that have become ingrained in a common understanding of what it means to go to primary school. I think we are ready to take the plunge though, and I’m hoping this course will help me better articulate why some traditional classroom literacy practices are in need of renovation.

Thanks! Rhena

Posted in Introductions | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Intro: Cathy Fowler

Istituto Degli Innocenti

My name is Cathy Fowler; this is my 7th course in the MET program. I am a teacher-librarian at an Elementary School in Nanaimo, BC.   One of my goals as a 21st Century librarian is to connect the reading and writing skills of my students to 21st Century technology and to teach them a variety of ways to use those skills, to express and create, and to be able to access and communicate with the world by providing a wide variety of technology and opportunities to explore. I look forward to further exploring the changing role and necessary skills involved in reading and writing in this age of rapidly changing technology.

I chose this image because though public libraries were not always available to the masses the first libraries afforded the copying and sharing of the earliest texts and resulted in the dissemination of knowledge to a wider range of society. Libraries became the, often highly guarded and secured, centre of early educational, scientific, religious and governmental institutions. The information held within the library’s books, scrolls and texts were seen as valuable, a tangible entity to be shared with a chosen few. As books became more popular and more people were learning to read public lending libraries became popular and the dissemination of information became rapid through the masses forever changing how information was viewed and shared.

Posted in Introductions | Comments Off on Intro: Cathy Fowler