Viewing entries tagged
digital technology

Comment

Teachers and Tech: Our HOME Teacher Survey Results

Two months ago we created a Teacher Survey to learn more about how K-12 teachers in the Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa areas are using technology as an educational tool in their classrooms. By filling out our survey, teachers were also entered into a contest to win a Free iPad Stop-Motion Animation Workshop at their school! While we finalize the winner we wanted to share some of our survey findings!

First of all, we were so excited to see that 100% of the teachers that filled out our survey use some form of technology in their classroom and over half of the respondents also stated that they actually allow their students to use their own devices for learning purposes in the classroom!

Also, while only 27.5% of teachers reported having participated in any kind of media and/or technology Professional Development session, an even lesser 6.7% reported that their students had access to any similar type of Media Literacy workshops or training. This suggests that there is a disconnect between teacher media training and a follow through to their students. Many Professional Development workshops are also lecture-based and offer little to no hands-on training.

We also found out that 51.7% of the teachers are using technology every single day at their school while another 44.8% using technology 1-3 times a week.  A whopping 86% said that they would benefit from hands-on training to help them learn ways to teach Media and Digital Literacy in their classroom.

We wanted to see what kind of restrictions teachers face with technology on a day-to-day basis so we asked them what they would benefit from and what problems they are currently facing when it comes to Media Literacy training in the classroom. One teacher commented “Technology is changing so fast and as much as I'd like to, I can't keep up. I would love for my students to get more instruction that is as current as possible in their ever-changing world”. We at Hands On Media know that the constantly changing nature of technology can be overwhelming for teachers! New apps, platforms and interactive media are always emerging and we believe that teachers would truly benefit from the opportunity to learn how to use these tools.

Another teacher stated, “We are told to incorporate more media and digital literacy into our teaching but we lack resources”. A common complaint we have heard from hundreds of teachers, which we know can be a very frustrating reality.

We found that there were a lot of teachers who do not know how to incorporate the already existing technology into their classrooms or feel they lack the technology itself. When we asked to describe if they would benefit from a hands-on instructional workshop on how to incorporate Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, iPads and laptops into their curriculum, almost all responded "YES!". The responses ranged from a desire for technical iPad training, to learning how to teach Digital Storytelling, to learning about Media Literacy more generally.

There is an immediate demand from educators for help with the integration of technology into the classroom learning experience and we are happy to be ale to provide teachers with the help they so desperately need.

Contact us now for more information on how we can provide you, your staff and students practical, educational and effective tools and activities for technological integration for the classroom.  Together, we can help bridge the digital divide we know so many students and teachers are experiencing.

Comment

Comment

Autumn Update from HOME: Media Literacy Week, Teacher Survey & More Workshops!

Hello everyone!

With the 2016-2017 School Year off to a great start here in Montreal, we have much to report from HOME.  (Isn't our Hands On Media Education acronym so good?!) 

Where to start...

Our free workshop contest and Teacher Survey has been very informative for us, with over 30 teachers responding with how they use technology in the classroom.  Did you know 100% of our teacher respondents use some kind of tech in the classroom, but 86.2% are wanting to learn more about media literacy and hands-on workshops at future Professional Development opportunities??  Luckily for them, this is why we exist, and we are excited to help them grow and learn soon.    Contest deadline is October 31st 2016, so please share the survey, and help us serve Canadian educators as best we can! 

Our new workshop season got off with a bang, starting with a great partnership with Vallum Poetry Magazine to deliver several iPad Stop Motion Animation + Poetry Workshops at the alternative outreach highschool Perspectives II.  Each group of students pre-selected a poem which they used as inspiration for their animations, and then worked as a team to develop a story and storyboard.  They then created their own clay characters, and took a series of images using iPads.  Sound, titles and credits were added, followed by a group screening of their final productions, and what an incredible and inspiring collection of work they produced!  Stories of break-ups, daydreaming, and Black Lives Matter are just a few examples.  Take a look at one here, titled "The Flower of Love". 

November is going to be one of our busiest months, as the word has spread throughout the EMSB of our workshops, and so have several booked with Perspectives I, II and Venture in Verdun.  We also have the exciting news of Media Literacy Week, a national Media Literacy and Education campaign October 31st - November 5th 2016.

Because the theme of MWL this year is "Makers & Creators" our HOME workshops are a perfect fit, and as such, have been invited to collaborate on a few exciting events.

Thursday Nov. 3: In partnership with kidsCODEjeunesse, we are hosting 4 FREE student workshops @ Notman House, delivering iPad Stop Motion Animation & Coding for kids in both English et en francais.  Nearby schools have already been invited and registered.

Saturday Nov. 5: In partnership with Rubika, we are pleased to host a FREE Digital Storytelling for Educators, and there are still a few spots available!  Register through Eventbrite here.   

If you are interested in learning how we can help you, your staff and students incorporate technology into the classroom or workspace through engaging, educational and fun activities, please get in touch!  We would be happy to speak with you about how our hands-on, customized and effective workshops can bring 21st century skills and learning to any pedagogical objective.

Comment

Join us! Digital Storytelling for Educators Workshop: Nov. 5, 2016 in Montreal

Forget about Thanksgiving, Halloween, or even New Year’s Eve. The most exciting festivity of the year is upon us: that’s right, it’s Media Literacy Week from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4, 2016! At the tail end of this exciting week of awareness and education about media literacy, Hands on Media is offering a FREE bilingual Digital Storytelling for Educators workshop in Montreal on Nov. 5, 2016.

Thanks to our partners at Rubika, an awesome design, animation, and video game education institution, we’ve got a space in which to present our hottest tips, tricks, and best practices in digital storytelling.

Are you an educator who wants to incorporate digital media and digital storytelling into your classroom? Not sure where to start? Our workshop will introduce you to activities, tools, and techniques that will help stimulate your student’s excitement about digital creativity, media literacy, and personal storytelling.

Join us for this FREE 5-hour workshop (but bring your own iPad or laptop, please!) and discover the power of telling personal narratives through digital media, whether it’s video, audio, animation, photography, text, or a multimedia project.  This workshop is a great opportunity for educators to develop their technology know-how and practice their skills for classroom application.

What can your students gain from learning how to tell stories with digital tools? The benefits are proven. Students will become familiar with the digital tools they’ll need to use for all aspects of their lives, whether in personal, academic, or professional realms. They’ll gain the confidence to express their opinions and share their experiences. They’ll boost their communication skills and unlock their creative potential.

Want to know more about the power of digital storytelling? We’ve written about the empowering effects of digital storytelling for girls and women, the learning benefits of digital media for kids with special needs, and the career potential of developing facility with digital tools in early life. Finally, check out this article by Hands On Media Director Jessie Curell. Jessie explains why digital storytelling is accessible, easy, fun, and most of all—highly educational.

All the details of the Digital Storytelling Workshop are in our Eventbrite calendar, so make sure you note the date, time, and location. While the workshop is free, registration is required, so go ahead and sign up right now. Note: this workshop is appropriate for educators of students aged 12 and up.

And in case you’re wondering: this workshop and its activities are relatively easy to execute for even the most techno-phobic teacher. There’s no time like the present to bolster your own digital and technological skills, while also gaining insight, skills, and confidence you can share with your students. See you there!

Lester B. Pearson School Board & "The Digital Citizenship Program"

In 2011, Montreal's Lester B Pearson School Board (LBPSB)  launched an innovative new initiative called The Digital Citizenship Program, making it the first and only school board in Quebec to officially recognize the importance of media education and technology in the classroom. The program calls for all 56 of their elementary, secondary, and continuing education schools to implement media literacy training into their curricula in order to provide students with a productive experience with technology that can be very beneficial outside of the classroom and later in life. As technological interfaces become increasingly present within a child’s everyday experiences it is important to teach them that screens and interactive media are not merely a distraction or a reward, but are something that can be used to learn and create.

A school board recognizing the importance of teaching its students how to appropriately and positively interact with different technology is a major feat as many schools today not only exclude modern technologies in their schools, but ban them altogether. Instead of being treated as something dangerous and disctracting, LBPSB acknowledges that technology is a powerful teaching tool and that it is time to bring education into the contemporary era. As they explain, "Digital citizenship can be described as the norms for appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use." Some incredible (and free) digital literacy resources found on the program website can be found here!

While we were very excited to find out about the Digital Citizenship program, we wanted to see if and how the schools in the LBPSB had implemented any technologies or media tools into their curricula. After some digging we were surprised to find that only 25 out of 56 (44%) of the schools had implemented the technological requirements, according to their latest annual reports. Many of the schools are using iPads, Smartboards and laptops in various classes but some have gone even further, creating a media-based program or class. For instance, Macdonald High School has a whole class dedicated to Digital Citizenship and Westwood Jr High School has a ‘Matrix’ program which has implemented technology in all core classes. Though the schools that are following the school board’s recommendations appear to be on the right track, there are still 31 schools that either have plans to incorporate the Digital Citizenship program or do not mention it at all.

Hands On Media workshops are a great start for these schools and would also benefit those which already teach with technology. Our workshops teach students how to think critically about the media we are consuming and creating, while simultaneously providing teachers with effective educational tools to continue to incorporate media into their curriculum long after we have gone.

We applaud the LSPSB’s Digital Citizenship program as a model for the education system in Canada, and are here to help other school boards across Quebec and Canada embrace media in the classroom, using these powerful tools to create a media and digital literate generation.

Comment

Discover the advantages of technology in the classroom for kids with special needs

By Jovana Jankovic

Yesterday, Hands on Media conducted an in-classroom workshop in North Vancouver with a group of 7 kids at the incredible Kenneth Gordon Maplewood Elementary School, dedicated to students with special needs.  We thought today would be a great time to spread the word about the importance and value of technology (specifically iPads) in special needs classrooms as students use slide shows, movies, audio presentations, and music to learn and to communicate. How can your special needs students benefit? Here are a few fast facts:

* Software is more predictable and orderly than human communication, which is usually context-dependent and nuanced. Kids with some form of autism can often feel safer and more ready to communicate through software than human interaction.

* For tools to work with special needs kids, they need to be motivating and encouraging, engaging them in repeated attempts to use the tools. Kids on the autism spectrum are often not motivated by authority and instruction the same way some other kids are (ie. “Teacher has told me to do this, so I will.”) Software, and particularly large, portable, high-resolution tablets like iPads, is visually engaging and appealing, rather than simply instructional like some traditional classroom tools. Autistic kids are often more adept at learning and communicating visually rather than verbally.

* For students with physical or motor impairments, tablets and their highly receptive touchscreens are more aligned with how their bodies move. For example, these kids may find it easier to tap and swipe than to point and click with a mouse. Tablets allow them to keep their eyes focused on one spot (the screen) rather than moving their eyes, necks, and heads between a screen and a keyboard.

* Digital technology is multi-sensory and customizable; if a student is impaired visually, she can deploy aural and audio technologies to communicate her ideas, and vice versa. Non-verbal students may find it useful to communicate through images, shapes, and colours, making them more expressive overall and increasing their variable range of communication.

* Digital communications can increase social awareness and social communications skills. Video chats, for example, may help students focus specifically on learning to read facial cues, a big part of the emotional development of students with special needs.

* iPads and other digital technologies are “cool”, unlike some older development tools for students with special needs, which often came with stigma. Students with learning disabilities already feel like they’re on the margins; contemporary digital technologies are a non-conspicuous way of customizing the learning environment for special needs students without making them feel out of place.

* Text-to-speech software (a program that reads type words aloud in audio) can help students analyze and revise their written work; hearing the text read aloud may assist students in catching grammatical errors that are harder to catch through reading alone. Studies show that text-to-speech software “can improve students’ sight reading and decoding abilities” and “can improve the reading comprehension of individuals with specific deficits in phonological processing (difficulty hearing letter-sounds) as students can learn to decode new words when they are highlighted as they are read aloud.”

* Any students who struggle with the mainstream curriculum due to their particular needs or disabilities will respond well to something that is perceived as fun! “It’s more like a game for them,” says Christina Panichi, a third grade special education teacher in New Jersey. “For some reason when technology is involved—especially cartoons—it engages them more.”

There you have it! These are just a few of the many advantages that digital technology, and especially tablets, can bring to student with special needs. Research into the benefits is still on-going and developers continue to design a huge array of products for special needs kids. But the future looks bright as humankind expands the ways in which we communicate through the power of technology!

Comment

As we mark a milestone, digital skills and tools take centre stage in Canada’s future

By Jovana Jankovic

A Model for Digital Literacy

A Model for Digital Literacy

In 2017, Canada will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As part of this milestone, the federal government launched Digital Canada 150 (DC150) back in 2010—a comprehensive plan to provide all Canadians with the digital skills and tools required to navigate our future. Within the DC150 initiative, public consultations were sought from stakeholders in the media literacy, digital technology, business, policy, research, journalism, and education sectors, and more than two thousand Canadian individuals and organizations shared their ideas!
But perhaps most interesting for us here at Hands on Media was the submission from our friends at Media Smarts (formerly the Media Awareness Network) titled “Digital Literacy in Canada: From Inclusion to Transformation”.

Here’s the tl;dr (you’re welcome!)

  • Digital literacy skill development in young people must be a cornerstone of government strategy, to ensure that Canada is creating citizens who can think critically about digital content and use digital technologies to their full extent. Media Smarts calls upon the government to create a National Digital Literacy Strategy, which includes consulting with a broad group of stakeholders, policy-makers, and researchers.
  • Citizens already use digital technologies to navigate through all aspects of their lives, from healthcare to news media to the workplace and beyond. The influence of digital technologies over our lives will only increase in the future. How can we ensure that our population keeps up? As the report says, “the issue for Canadians is no longer if we use digital technology but how well we use it.”
  • Recommendations include: compiling a comprehensive list of existing media education and media literacy bodies nationwide, as well as a comparison of similar programs in parallel jurisdictions like the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • K-12 and post-secondary learning institutions are a target for prime media education and media literacy initiatives; while the government has invested in developing technology and building infrastructure, it has not balanced these investments with developing the skills and knowledge needed by Canadians to use technologies safely and effectively.  Definitely take a look at a fantastic Digital Literacy Framework created by MediaSmarts.
  • “Digital literacy” doesn’t only mean being able to view and read digital content critically, but also includes the more complex and nuanced abilities to create and produce a wide range of content with digital tools. Citizens and students should be able to create “rich media such as images, video, and sound; and to effectively and responsibly engage with Web 2.0 user‐generated content such as blogs and discussion forums, video and photo sharing, social gaming, and other forms of social media.”
  • Barriers to digital literacy are important to address. While there’s a common stereotype that all younger people are digitally savvy while older people are clumsy and unfamiliar with digital technology, there is far too much variety within each generation to make this kind of simplistic assertion. Many factors including geography (and infrastructure), socio-economic status (and access to equipment), and language barriers (such as those experienced by recent immigrants) can be the cause of varying levels of digital literacy and competency.
  • While some educators have been wary of bringing technology into the classroom, evidence shows that digital technologies are an integral part of interpersonal learning between students and teachers. Technologies can provide platforms for collaboration and tools for organization. As the report states, “Excluding digital media from schools creates a potentially damaging split between educational and personal experience. Digital media are a knowledge technology; keeping them out of the classroom creates a significant dissonance in how youth gather and share knowledge.”
  • The career value of digital technology education is high. Many small and medium-sized businesses have been slow to adopt digital technologies in their internal operations, or to establish a web presence or move their businesses online by developing e‐commerce capabilities. This means students educated in harnessing and deploying digital technologies will have a distinct advantage in the workplace, as they can offer lagging businesses the tools and skills to make them competitive in the global marketplace.

If you have more free time, you can explore the full report here. Yes, it’s quite long, but it contains some excellent research and recommendations on how all stakeholders—government, academia, educators, business owners, councils on learning, ministries of education, industry organizations, library associations, and institutes for information technology and digital media—can assist the next generation of Canadians in using, understanding, and developing digital media literacy and digital technology skills for the successful future of all Canadians.

Interested in learning more about how to incorporate technology and digital media literacy into your learning environment? Check out Hands On Media’s selection of student workshops, or inquire about our curriculum consultation services if you’re looking to address a particular area of specialization.
Contact us and we can work together to make sure your students are becoming responsible, creative, and engaged digital citizens!

 

Comment

Today’s Students, Today’s Needs: Key Areas of Specialization for Educators’ Professional Development

By Jovana Jankovic

The end of June marks the final days of classes for elementary and secondary students in most school boards throughout Canada and the US. As educators consider professional development opportunities for the new school year beginning in September, it’s important to keep in mind that the most effective professional development is the kind that helps educators focus on the needs of their students.

What are the most pressing needs of today’s young people? Are there gaps in your curriculum that could be filled by addressing emerging contemporary topics and skills? Obviously, the convenience, ubiquity, and constant access to mobile digital devices have strongly impacted the ways in which we communicate with, interact with, and analyze the world around us. Critical media literacy and an understanding of digital media technology are crucial skills for today’s young people to develop, and many school boards have yet to formalize these subjects into their core curricula.

Teaching students about digital storytelling, audio-visual production, new communications technologies, digital animation, critical media literacy, and the history and current state of media creation has been shown to have many positive effects. These effects include: mindful technology use (not just passive, distracted browsing of the internet or social media, but active engagement in, and production of, original content), technical troubleshooting (including learning new software and managing archives of digital content), and real-world digital production skills (as all businesses are increasingly required to have an online presence, digital marketing content creation such as image editing and video production have become highly sought-after workplace skills). Not convinced? Just take a look at this charming and thought-provoking personal essay from educator Paul Barnwell in Louisville, Kentucky. After he initiated a digital storytelling project in his classroom, his students felt like “trailblazers” and gained the confidence to “become the authors of their own lives.” Mr. Barnwell rightly warns that “if we don't consider and carefully plan what skills students are learning and practicing by employing technology in the classroom, we're doing our students a disservice."

If you’re an educator at the elementary or secondary levels, and particularly specializing in art, language, literature, music, theatre, science and technology, history, or social studies, you can have a great impact on your students’ media education by helping them to create and modify images, plan and organize ideas through storyboards, write scripts, perform in front of cameras, design and produce web content, or report news stories.

Not sure where to start? Check out Hands On Media’s Professional Development workshops, or inquire about Custom Training sessions for educators in a particular area of specialization. Contact us at #514.659.3814 or info@handsonmediaeducation.com and we can help you understand and tailor your professional development goals to meet the current (and future!) needs of your students in a saturated and stimulating digital media landscape.

We wish all our educators, their students, and our community partners a happy and eventful summer break!

Comment