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digital tools

A Summer to Remember + Many Exciting Projects Already Underway!

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A Summer to Remember + Many Exciting Projects Already Underway!

When I originally started sketching out a business plan for Hands On Media, I assumed, since we were working with K-12 teachers and students, that our summers would be relatively light. The months June, July & August would be time for us to decompress. 

Right?

Ha! How wrong I turned out to be... ;)

Ever since we have expanded our workshop offerings to include customized media education experiences designed in collaboration with organizations, community centres, and research projects, we have been very busy with a rich variety of Digital Literacy workshops in both Quebec and the Northwest Territories.

The beginning of the summer saw us working with 30 youth as part of the Town of Mont Royal and Montreal West's Summer Camp series.  We spent 2 weeks delivering our iPad Stop Motion Animation Camps which included a mini Film Festival, where parents and community members came from far and wide to celebrate the students' creative success. 

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Mere days after packing up our Stop Motion Animation Workshop kit, I was on a plane to Yellowknife to deliver iPad Digital Storytelling workshops as part of the SMASH and FOXY Peer Leader Retreats, which were held at the unforgettable Blachford Lake Lodge.  Sex Education, Mental Health Awareness, Leadership and Digital Storytelling skills were taught throughout each 10-day program, with swimming, sharing circles, drumming, singing, eating delicious meals, and dance parties happening throughout! These two retreats were personally and professionally huge for me, as leaders and youth shared a special connection and learned so much from each other. Friendships were made at these retreats with both co-leaders and youth that I cherish, and which I hope continue far into the future. You can read my earlier post about the SMASH retreat here.

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After a few days off in Vancouver to visit family, I was back up North to work with a new group of Dene and Métis youth, elders and several researchers from across Canada in a remote on-the-land bushcamp organized by the SRRB (Sahtu Renewable Resources Board) called Dene Ts'ı̨lı̨. Held at Bennet Field, Northwest Territories, participants at this 17-day camp learned Boat Safety, Wilderness First Aid, Hunter Education, Medicinal Plants, Sewing, and Digital Storytelling. And wow, as a supposed "leader" of the camp, did I ever learn a lot! Because the bushcamp is also an active hunting camp, fresh meat was brought in almost every second day. Beaver, grouse (or "chicken" as it's called), geese, caribou and moose were regularly on the menu. 

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Digital Storytelling was obviously where I spent most of my time with the youth. I was impressed with how seriously they took their projects. 22-year old Shannon Oudzi from Colville Lake, NWT completed her project titled "Dene Life" and was keen to post to her Facebook page early on. In only 10 days the project had garnered 3700 views and 73 shares through Facebook, not to mention the dozens of comments supporting Shannon in her new creation. I could not have been prouder as a media educator, and if we had a few more days at camp she would have completed her 2nd Digital Story, no doubt. :) 

This camp was also the first experience i had working with both youth and elders simultaneously.  Walter, an elder from Deline, completed a beautiful Digital Story about the powerful relationship between a grandfather and his grandchild, while Michael, also an elder from Deline, wove a traditional legend about the time giant beavers used to roam the land, adding photos and video of him singing a Beaver song, completing his Digital Story "Tsa".

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I have so many reflections on the Digital Storytelling workshops I delivered these last 8 weeks, lessons I learned about working with youth, adults and elders, and quotes by workshop participants about their own experience. No blog post could be long enough to describe them all, but I will carry these experiences forward into my life and work. 

I returned to Montreal 2 weeks ago, and though it's hard to believe, our workshops are already in full swing for the new school year! 

  • We have returned to Royal Vale Elementary school in NDG for another 12-week iPad Video Production & Stop Motion Animation Workshop with Grade 5 & 6 students;
  • A second round of remote Digital Storytelling workshops for the Beaufort Delta Education Council begins tomorrow with 20 students in 7 communities of the Northwest Territories;
  • A 6-month Digital Literacy Training Program for Canadian Educators tour, in partnership with MediaSmarts has begun in a variety of universities across Canada, with 11 workshops to be delivered to hundreds of student teachers;
  • Several students workshops are booked already in Montreal with both primary and secondary students!

If you are interested in learning more about the Digital & Media Literacy workshops we delivered this summer, and how we can help you, your faculty, classroom, or organization, please contact me. We are here to help you enhance any learning experience with creative, practical and critical digital learning skills.  I look forward to hearing from you!

-Jes

 

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We are growing!

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We are growing!

With the new season of Spring technically here in Canada, we have news to share of growth, experience and travels!  We have been very busy these last few months growing and expanding in new directions.  So busy in fact, we have had little time to write regular blog posts or updates. 

Busy with what, you may ask? 

  • Brand new, customized workshops for a variety of clients in Montreal, Ottawa and the Northwest Territories,
  • A refreshing new, bilingual website to better serve both Francophone and Anglophone teachers and students in Canada.
  • A new 12-week after-school iPad Animation & Video Production enrichment program with 15 Grade 5 children. 
  • A 4-part remote Digital Storytelling Workshop for youth living in 5 remote communities of the Beaufort Delta, Northwest Territories, and
  • Delivering a series of drop-in family Stop Motion Animation workshops for the Ottawa Public Library this past Spring Break!

We also have a new team member, Antonio Sonnessa, who has joined us from Concordia's Film Program!  He has extensive animation experience, as well as graphic design skills, and loves working with children.  Antonio is already helping us a lot with our current workshop delivery in Montreal, plus any graphic design help we need with posters, images and workshop information packages.  You can learn more about his experience and skills here. Welcome to the team Antonio!

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As we look forward to new projects, warmer weather, and even more growth ahead, we thank you for your continued support, valuing customized, hands-on, and empowering media education for Canada's youth.  We are currently taking Professional Development, Student and Organization Workshop registration for the new school year 2017-2018, and we look forward to hearing from you. 

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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.

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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.

Is there an IT skills gap in Canada? Introducing digital skills and careers in the classroom

By Jovana Jankovic

Today, we bring you some business news and its relevance to the digital media literacy we practice and preach here at Hands On Media. Did you know that some experts worry we are in the midst of a widening IT skills gap in Canada? Many industry insiders report that Canada just isn't competitive in the global marketplace when it comes to technology. We can change this for the next generation by starting youngsters off early and bringing digital literacy and tech skills into the classroom. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the governing body that administers the .ca domain, just released a new report called “From Broadband Access to Smart Economies: Technology, skills and Canada’s future.” You can read the full report here, but here are a couple of key takeaways:

* Many large Canadian IT companies surveyed in this report say that it’s difficult for them to find the talent they need in Canada — 40% of respondents report they had trouble recruiting IT professionals with the right skills.

* 49% of respondents believe that Canadian technology companies are not adequately equipped to compete in the global marketplace, while 75% stated the importance of “made-in-Canada” solutions for the kinds of technology challenges Canada faces today and in the near future.

A few weeks ago, the CIRA held their sixth annual Canadian Internet Forum at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. A number of panelists and speakers expressed concern that the digital literacy skills gap is widening in Canada. According to the Ottawa Business Journal, “panelist Tanya Woods, vice-president of policy and legal affairs for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, said a lack of digital literacy in young Canadians from kindergarten to post-secondary school will negatively affect the IT industry in the years ahead.”

The panel on which Ms. Woods spoke was particular focused on the current state and future potential of the multi-platform video game industry. Did you know that Canada’s video game industry grew by 31% between 2013 and 2015? The industry currently contributes $3 billion to the country’s GDP—and yet talent is hard to find. Young people interested in technology may be pleased to learn that video games, a beloved form of leisure, could present a very real and rewarding career opportunity for them in the future!

So, how do we jump-start the process of a lifelong commitment to learning about technology (and digital media in particular)? Educators, with the help of our in-class student workshops, can act as "media mentors," engaging with kids to encourage them to use technology in creative, active, and interesting ways, rather than simply passively consuming media. Setting up this active engagement encourages kids to then “mess around” on their own with digital media tools—experimenting with new tools and developing new skills that will eventually be highly sought-after in a professional setting.

A recent report by the Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada asserts that “Canada simply does not have enough young people selecting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines in school nor ICT (information and communications technology) as a career choice to meet its current and future needs.”

Let’s change this by bringing technology and digital media creation tools into the classroom now! Young people already think of digital media devices as a daily part of their lives, but getting them to think of these tools and activities as not simply a form of leisure but as a viable and rewarding career choice can shrink Canada’s IT skills gap in one generation. Learn more about our in-class workshops here.

Yes it is summertime, but you can begin to plan your students’ digital media education for the 2016-2017 academic year now!