Teaching Digital Health in Health Studies 20

With the beginning of the semester over the past week, my major project is starting to take shape.  As I mentioned in my last major project update, Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship are the foundation of my resource.  This first thing I needed was a French translation of these principles as well as a resource that will allow me to get acquainted with the French terminology related to the subject.  I was able to find a website which provides an excellent base that explains Ribble’s elements as well as provides suggested themes to explore in the classroom.

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With this resource, I started work on a public read-only Google Doc where my resource is being built.  This will be where teachers will go to get access to information on the reason the resource is being created.  It will outline the themes that will be explored in the activities that I will create.  Included in the document will be the activities themselves, evaluations rubrics, links to supporting materials and any other thing I find pertinent and useful.  This is certainly a work in progress! Feel free to explore it!

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I’m currently in the initial stages of planning my activities.  Many hours have been spent scouring the internet for French resources on which I will base my activities.  Although it’s more difficult to find, there are still excellent resources being produced in Quebec as well as in France that can prove valuable.  The diversity and quality of resources in French is nowhere near those available in English and I reserve the right to adapt/translate certain resources that seem to fit really well in the overall product I’m trying to build.

This past week, as part of my Health Studies 20 class, I introduced a small research project where the students were to explore and share their findings related to alternative approaches to healthcare.  Each student was to choose an alternative approach to healthcare and research it based on a list of questions I provided to them in advance.  This project will require students to use the internet to search for their information.  I purposely, did not give any guidance to my students concerning the quality or the legitimacy of the information they found.  The idea is to observe their habits and create a baseline to better understand their needs related to media literacy.  I should be receiving their assignments next week, I’m curious to see what comes of it.

The digital divide, as mentioned in my last post on the major project, is a reality that I’m still trying to find creative ways to address.  When planning for my class, I had reserved 14 laptops for all 14 of my students.  To my astonishment, seven of my students produced their own personal computers.  Having half of the students with ready access to computers reduces my worries and might change the approach I will take when planning my activities.  Next week, I’ll be taking a survey of my students to gauge their accessibility to technology.  I have a feeling that I have not been properly assessing the situation in my particular case.

As my students proceeded to work on their assignment during their work period, discussions related to the validity of sources of information on the internet organically arose.  I was so proud of them!  The intuition my students displayed during this conversation seemed to be solid.  Once again, I tried not to influence them and let them generate their own conclusions.

As my first unit will have as a theme the idea of holistic health, the digital health and wellness element of Ribble’s nine elements will be the primary focus.  That’s as much as I have at the moment.  Stay tuned for more as I develop my first activities over the coming weeks.


Evolving Education To Meet the Needs of Society

The discussions we had during our weekly EC&I 832 class pertaining to the generational changes related to society and culture in the context of the use of technology and its place in society spawned in my mind numerous trains of thought.  My initial thoughts led me to reflect on the place of education in society.  Subsequently, I thought about the place of technology in society and how the two worlds of education and technology intersect today and potentially in the future.

The place of education in society

When looking at the historical place of education in society, we cannot deny that education is at the basis of most of the aspects of everyday society we know today.  Education has brought reading, writing, mathematics and science to the masses over the past few hundred years.  This has transformed our society and fostered an incalculable amount of financial and technological wealth from which we all benefit on a daily basis.  In the past, with limited access to good information in sufficient quantities, educational institutions and its educators were stewards of their siloed subjects and transmitters of knowledge.  Schools were a means for the next generation to improve society and advance the state of the art.  One could argue that education historically led societal change by facilitating the propagation of information and knowledge.  As a result, education was the stimulus for many of the advancements in technology we have come to use on a daily basis.

With the advent of the free flowing of information that resulted from the arrival of the internet.  Information is no longer a commodity that is transmitted and fostered by the academic world.  Modern educational systems have been slow in transforming to this new reality of free and unlimited access to information.  We could almost say that education has been left behind by the pace of technological development.  Being a science teacher, I tried to summarize this idea in the following graph.

transformation vs time

The place of technology in society

Today, one could argue that technology is leading societal change with much more vigor than that of education.  As witnessed though our exploration of generational frameworks and the implications it has on digital literacy and citizenship, technology is an important part of the foundation of society we know today.  Our identities, our values and our beliefs are evolving though means like social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), electronic mass media (YouTube, TicToc, Reddit) and communication technologies (Facetime, Skype, WeChat, iMessage).  The world is only a few clicks away and we no longer need to seek information, in many cases, information seeks us.

The intersection of technology and education: What needs to change?

When new technologies are introduced into our world and become ubiquitous, society can quickly transform.  The internet and mass communication technologies have transformed the basis of how society functions.  Citizenship is no longer just a set of interactions in the real world, citizenship now encompasses online and real-world interactions.  As Nathan Jurgenson mentions in his article The IRL Fetish :

« The clear distinction between the on and offline, between human and technology, is queered beyond tenability. It’s not real unless it’s on Google; pics or it didn’t happen. We aren’t friends until we are Facebook friends. We have come to understand more and more of our lives through the logic of digital connection. Social media is more than something we log into; it is something we carry within us. We can’t log off. »

With the real world and the online world quickly becoming simply, the world, education must be able to integrate this new reality.  Education cannot compete in the market of information dissemination, that is no longer a need that modern society requires.  Consequently, a new role for education must be defined in response to the current needs of society.

Education as a tool to fulfill new societal needs

The NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Hight Education Edition highlights 10 large themes that will have to evolve in education to meet new needs of society:

  1. Advancing progressive learning approaches requires cultural transformation.

  2. Real-world skills are needed to bolster employability and workplace development.

  3. Collaboration is key for scaling effective solutions.

  4. Despite the proliferation technology and online learning materials, access is still unequal.

  5. Processes for assessing nuances skills at personal level are needed.

  6. Fluency in the digital real is more than just understanding how to use technology.

  7. Online, mobile, and blended learning are forgone conclusions.

  8. Learning ecosystems must be agile enough to support the practices of the future.

  9. Higher education is an incubator for developing more intuitive computers.

  10. Lifelong learning is the lifeblood of higher education.

IMG_5850All of these large themes are currently being addressed by numerous ways in all educational circles.  We can see many parallels between these themes and the numerous “Portrait of a Graduate” examples we scanned during our last class.  We also see parallels from the themes we chose in our small group activity this past week where we had to establish a list of qualities students should have when finishing school.  Here is a picture of the notes we gathered that night in just a few minutes.

A vision of modern education

I’m not yet confident enough as a student of educational technology to have a good vision for the future of education.  At this point, I take large amounts of inspiration from the work being done in the domain or Open Educational Practice (OEP) and Open Educational Resources (OER).  I see the world of education moving towards dynamic learning environments where learning follows different paths for each individual student.  I see more energy expended in teaching media and digital literacy skills and less time spent helping student acquire and learn specific content.

This might be a crude analogy, but I foresee education becoming closer to a master-apprentice system.  Like a student walking into a woodshop for the first time, all the tools that are there allow for this student to build almost anything he or she would like.  In this situation, the first thing a student needs to do is learn WHAT the tools do.  Then, students must learn HOW to use these tools in a safe and responsible way.  Once these first two skills are acquired, they can start building simple projects in a supervised manner in order to gain EXPERIENCE in the domain.  The constant feedback loop provided by peers as well as teachers allow each student to EVOLVE their skills in their OWN WAY.  Some students will evolve to carpentry, some will evolve to making furniture and some will evolve in other ways.  Once they leave the classroom, they should have the confidence needed to KEEP LEARNING new woodworking skills throughout their lives.

Our students have at their disposal all the technological tools they need to succeed in life.  Here is my vision of a students’ path in a modern educational setting.  (*notice how few words I have changed from my original analogy) A student walks into a school for the first time, all the technological and educational tools are there to allow for this student to build almost any skill or knowledgebase he or she would like.  In this situation, the first thing a student needs to do is learn WHAT the tools do.  Then, students must learn HOW to use these tools in a safe and responsible way. Once these first two skills are acquired, they can start building simple projects in a supervised manner in order to gain EXPERIENCE in the domain.  The constant feedback loop provided by peers as well as teachers allow each student to EVOLVE their skills in their OWN WAY.  Some students will evolve to become engineers, some will evolve to become artists and others will become something else.  Once they leave the classroom, they should have the confidence needed to KEEP LEARNING new skills throughout their lives.

How can we provide this type of environment for our students?  I’m not 100% sure, but I’m working on it!  How about you?

Critical Thinking in a World of Bias

Following our class with guest Mary Beth Hertz, I was left wanting to continue the great conversation that was quite stimulating and thought provoking.  Many subjects were explored, including the idea online privacy, the risks associated with personal information being online and interpreting information from various media sources.  The subject that caught my attention the most was that of bias in media and the difficulty involved in teaching this aspect of media literacy.

As I reflected on my own post on Digital Citizenship and Social Activism in my EC&I 831 class last semester, there seems to be a fine line to hold when approaching the idea of hidden agendas and bias in online media.  We cannot hide from the idea that in most cases, media is produced with the intent to influence its consumer in one direction or another. Kids and teenagers, by their very nature are extremely susceptible to these influences.  As they grow and learn from the world around them, they are constantly fed overwhelming amounts of information that they in turn use to define their beliefs, their values and their identities.

If we go back to a world before ready access to social media and the internet, children and teenagers were exposed to a much narrower set of social interactions and media types.  The traditional nuclear family was much more prevalent and local communities such as schools, faith communities and geographically local communities seemed to have a greater impact on influencing and helping shape the values and the identities of most kids.  In essence, a child raised to adulthood in a pre-mass-media, pre-social media and pre-internet world came out as having in most cases the same values, the same beliefs and the same identity as that of the immediate world in which they were raised.

photo of a woman thinking
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

With the advent of social media and the internet, the breadth and variety of information that is thrust towards our developing children has never been wider.  As opposed to being recipients of values and ideals from their immediate environment, the internet and social media allows kids to not only be receivers of information and values, they are also seekers of information.   Their process of building their identity is much more complicated and the influence of online media is quickly becoming one of the most important factors that guide them towards establishing their values.

apps blur button close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Given the content curation algorithms associated with platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, kids cannot rely on their instincts when evaluating the information that is presented to them.  The hidden agendas that bias these algorithms and the perspective its creators are trying to convey can subconsciously lead our kids towards deep biases that could result if terrifying consequences.  We have all heard of many situations where kids have been radicalized via the internet resulting in the propagation of hate.

As Mary Beth Hertz conveyed, we as teachers are not there to tell our student WHAT to think, but rather help our students learn HOW to think.  Teaching critical thinking skills and helping our students learn how to evaluate bias in media can only help society get rid of some of the toxic culture that some sources of media are trying to promote.  Education is often focused on the idea of transmitting content.  We as educators cannot compete with the content flowing from the internet, however, we have the ability and the responsibility of TEACHING rational thought through the integration of digital citizenship and media literacy curriculum within each class we teach.  Much like the work being untaken in relation to treaty education and truth and reconciliation, we must integrate these subjects every chance we have in order to build are more compassionate, ethical and peaceful society.

Major Project Outline

In my daily job as a high school science teacher, I often informally refer to media literacy and digital citizenship competencies within my pedagogy.  I have never taken the idea of teaching these competencies and applied them in a more formal manner within my teaching practice.  Given this situation, for my major project, I have decided to undertake the creation of a curriculum-supported digital citizenship resource.  This resource will be aimed towards supporting the existing French version of the Health Science 20 curriculum: Sciences de la santé 20.

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Why Sciences de la santé 20?  Aside from the fact that February 3rd, 2020 will be the first day of the second semester at my school, I will be beginning a new Sciences de la Santé 20 course.  Consequently, this will allow me to develop my resource at the same time as I teach.  This will allow me to design activities and resources that can be immediately tested and evaluated in the real world.  I addition to the fantastic timing, I find the Health Science 20 curriculum to be very conducive to developing digital citizenship and media literacy skills.  Many of the outcomes and indicators built into the curriculum are based on information research and sound critical thinking which corollate directly with the idea of media literacy and digital citizenship.  To give a few examples:

HS20-SDS1 –> Create and carry out a plan to explore one or more topics of personal interest relevant to Health Science 20.

HS20-HC1 –> Analyze how Western, Indigenous, traditional, complementary and alternative approaches to health care can contribute to a holistic (e.g., mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) perspective of health.

HS20-HC2 –> Examine how personal, cultural and societal beliefs affect ethical decisions regarding health care.

HS20-NU2 –> Analyze dietary choices based on personal and cultural beliefs and scientific understanding of nutrition.

Although these are only a few of the outcomes within the curriculum, as one can see, they are all areas of focus that allow for the parallel development of digital citizenship and media literacy.  As an example, when looking at the HS20-NU2 outcome, I can’t help but think of the variety of online media that extol the virtues of “miracle” nutritional products and advertisements for the latest weight loss diets.  With our students being bombarded on a daily basis by this information on social media and on the internet at large, unless they gain better digital citizenship skills and media literacy skills, our students will become highly susceptible to this dishonest rhetoric and dangerous disinformation.

My aim is to continuously refer to these competencies in my course and try to have at least one activity per unit exclusively related to media literacy and digital citizenship.  However, I plan to develop six activities, one for each major unit of the curriculum.

Technology availability is going to be a challenge.  My school as a limited number of computers available and most of the time, they are booked for other classes and students who follow distance education courses.  In addition to technology availability, there is a digital divide problem where some of my students have easy access to technology while others don’t.  I will have to be creative and flexible in the ways I use technology to accomplish my activities.  Does anyone have ideas?

To guide the preparation of my resource, I will be basing my outcomes for digital citizenship and media literacy on the Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum.  Thankfully, this last resource as well as the Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide are both available in French!  What a great starting point!  In addition, I’ll be keeping in mind Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship throughout the process of building my resource.

What will this resource look like?  As it stands, I would like to integrate the following tools to develop my resource.

Youtube Video Tutorials: I’d like to produce a few tutorials for my activities and release them as an Open Educational Resource.

Student Accessible Google Doc: I’d like to encourage collaboration and use some of the techniques I’ve learned in my EC&I classes to get students collaborating on projects.  In addition, I will also be using the Google Doc to disseminate information and links to the students.

Student Blogging project: Much like we do in our class, I’d like for the students to complete a few blogging assignments as a way for them to apply and demonstrate their new competencies.

Teacher Guide Google Doc:  As I develop my ideas in a more formal manner, I plan to document everything in a public Google Doc that will eventually be available as an Open Educational Resource.

As you can imagine, this resource will be developed in French as it makes my work applicable to my reality as a teacher and could be of use for my colleagues who also teach this same course in the francophone school division.  Given all of my work will be OER’s, a willing teacher could use them and adapt them for their own needs and their own language if translation needed.  Worry not, I will be blogging my progress and my process in English.  Looking forward to hearing what you think!

Looking Forward to a New Adventure

My name is Daniel and I’m a teacher at École Monseigneur de Laval located in Regina, SK.  I have been teaching grades 8 to 12 science in French for over 12 years and have had the opportunity to teach in a rural setting as well as in my current urban setting.  I’ve had the opportunity to experience principalship and have been enjoying deep involvement in the affairs of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation on a provincial level as an STF councillor and on the local level as my Local Teachers’ Association President and the LINC chair for local collective bargaining.


I love technology.  I’m a dedicated science educator who loves his job.  Wanting to extend my education formal education as well as enhance my pedagogical toolbox, it was only logical to pursue my graduate studies in the field of educational technology.  EC&I 832 being my fourth class in my Master’s Certificate in Educational Technology, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, learning and sharing with a panoply of wonderful classmates.  I cannot wait to, once again, continue my learning journey in partnership with everyone involved in this course.  Happy learning and I look forward to connecting through my blog, through Twitter and all the other mediums we might discover over the next few months!