Digital Literacy: Remote Learning / Digital Project Reflection

  1. What are your thoughts on hybrid learning (in person and at home) compared to when you are in your learning groups (at school for all classes). Which format do you prefer, and why?

In my opinion, I quite enjoyed the hybrid learning model. I would prefer the hybrid learning model over learning groups format because although I could find myself distracted while at home, I also saw the complete flip side to that coin. More often than not, I was far more product at home than I would usually be in school. This was probably due to there being fewer social distractions rather than digital. I was also able to complete other chores around the house while during a lighter course which most likely helped me become more productive since it gave me more time to complete my assigned homework. A perfect example of my productivity increase is shown through my reflections TALONS learners had to complete in our Leadership course. Since this was an additional task that was far more independent, we were expected to work on them on our own time to eventually return it on a given date. I always received good grades on these reflections which was due to the abundance of time I received to complete them.

Three day trip reflection for TALONS 9 and 10


  1. How has technology benefitted you during the hybrid learning experience?

For obvious reasons, technology has benefitted me during the hybrid learning model since it was through applications, such as Teams, that we would receive our homework as well as our instructions for materials needed for in-person classes. Without such technology, it would have made my grade 9 learning experience far more challenging. Furthermore, my spelling really improved because of technology due to receiving far fewer written assignments, rather, I was fortunate to rely on autocorrect and other grammar-based tools. An example of how technology benefitted my learning is in both of my Humanities courses where we were expected to type far more than usual. Because of this, I was able to take full advantage of autocorrect so that I would receive no marks off for any grammar errors that are spread throughout my work. It also allowed for me to use more experimental words to better illustrate my thoughts.

Glen Gordon’s Poetry Project


  1. How has technology impeded you during the hybrid learning experience?

Although I was quite efficient in my learning during this past year, I did run into a few speed bumps relating to technology. The main one being the distractions I faced while becoming bored of an assignment. I would message my friends or look online for YouTube videos that interest me in order to take my mind off what I was working on. I knew that it did not always help me, however, I believe it helped me gain further focus when the time came where it was absolutely necessary to focus on my work. An example would be using Discord to message my friends or enter servers to look at a new funny meme to take my mind off the homework.


  1. Is there anything that you hope remains a part of school that was new because of hybrid learning after the pandemic is over and school returns to normal?

In all honesty, I somewhat liked learning online and I hope that will have some influence when we return to school in a normal fashion. As stated plenty above, I found myself far more productive than I would usually be in class, and I also enjoyed it because I was able to work in my pyjamas while still in bed. Although that might not have helped me as much, it was still nice to have a choice when to wake up and get to work rather than there being a strict schedule on when you had to be at school and when you were finished. If that’s not possible, I would not mind there being far more online assignments and not have to go in school rather than more in person assignments where we are forced to attend. An example we could use to create a better educational system is by using a similar one to this year’s. We could have it so that half of our courses in the first semester would be online and the second half of our courses in the first semester would be in person, giving us the lunch hour to travel to and from.


  1. Link to 2 Projects in school /TALONS that used digital technology and explain how the use of that digital technology enhanced your project. Ideas include In-Depth, Eminent, Zip, individual class projects in Talons or other subjects…

In the TALONS program this year, both my In-Depth project an Eminent project used plenty of digital technology in many different formats. For example, in my In-Depth project I was constantly using my camera to take my macro photos which was the skill that I was working towards improving. The use of my camera was completely necessary for my In-Depth project since I had no other way of taking macro photos. The camera that I used probably enhanced my project the most since it was a fairly good quality camera that I had bought the previous year. For my Eminent project, I also used my camera to videotape the final presentation which I also edited on my laptop using an application called Final Cut Pro X. In my opinion, the editing process enhanced my project the most since it was where I cut out a lot of the imperfections in my speech as well as put together all the other aspects to create my final product which I was extremely proud of at the time.

(One of my favourite macro images I took during my In-Depth project)

Empire Questions for Discussion



Following today’s discussion of the ways in which we might witness a formal and informal empire in our modern world, I am interested to hear your thoughts on (any one of) the following questions:

  • What is an aspect of the Formal or Informal Empire that interests you? How does it “determine key outcomes in the dominated society”? Why does this attract your attention?
  • Who typically derives economic benefits, access to important resources, control of strategic military territory and other forms of power? In other words, what might we put in the _____ in the above diagram?
  • And finally, is it possible to benefit from the oppression of others and not be responsible for that oppression? If so, how?

Please respond to one of these questions in the comments below. If you are arriving at the post after many of initial posts and comments, feel free to reply, extend, challenge or continue dialogue with your peers by replying to their comment.

Assessment for Critical Literacy

This semester’s Socials 9 curriculum was conceived with an intention to cultivate critical literacy, which I have come to define more and more as an ability to develop a praxis of reflection and action to continually discover and define meaning in an increasingly complex system. In learning from curricula, relationships or experience, individuals and societies alike are tasked with reinventing and transforming their reality as necessity and changing circumstances may dictate.

As I have attempted to re-imagine social studies as a venue for citizenship education, each of the TALONS classes have begun the semester with experiments in collaborative assignment and unit planning from the start. In considering our study of the English Civil War, there has been discussion of several questions:

What do we need to know? 

The class began by considering course outcomes and evaluating text and online materials to help guide the discovery of the unit’s main ideas, events and historical personages. Then set about generating criteria, a schedule and daily means by which the agreed-upon content could be learned.

In collecting, distributing and summarizing a range of primary and secondary sources on early 1600s England, What do we need to know was joined by What is there to be known about the topic? And as the readings’ various themes and ideas were identified and organized, the discussion shifted to consider What is important to know about these topics? As well as What do I think about all of this? 

But this was only one aspect of identification and collaboration to engage an agreed-upon problem. This is merely the deconstruction - the breaking into a million little pieces that could then be assembled into coherence anew through each learner/investigator’s reflection and action.

And it introduced a new question (and it’s a mouthful):

How do we know that we know what we’re now supposed to know (now)? 

In terms of reconstructing that knowledge, effective learning should also address the question How do we assess the learning that has taken place? But in considering critical literacy and consciousness, it becomes important that this question in particular is asked in such a way that it continues to be driven by the collaborative acumen and expertise of the group itself, just as the unit has been planned and carried out thus far.

This aspect of assessment is traditionally a means of learning owned and operated by the teacher. But the crux of this type of collaboratively-designed learning, and of the development of a continual praxis of behaviour, teacher and student are each challenged to engage their critical literacy, which may also be described as a kind of empathetic design research.

In their paper, Rethinking Design Thinking: Empathy Supporting InnovationMcDonagh and Thomas describe a process during which,

“as designers use empathy to support their research, ‘design moments’ emerge which provide them with more design-relevant data and supports product innovation.”

Here we see the designer’s role shift to that of a co-investigator, where

“the designer and user engage as collaborators, and together develop knowledge and understanding in order to generate appropriate solutions for real needs.

“Empathetic design research relies on the user being an active and participating partner within the information creation and designing process.”

Design’s quest for innovation begins to find itself within an emerging confluence of educational philosophy. Isn’t this innovation what Gregory Bateson might have described as transformative learning, or what Paulo Freire deemed a ‘limit situation‘?  This “simplicity of cause” comes as an affirmation of the ongoing praxis of co-investigation and co-creation that we might conceive of as critical literacy.

In looking toward assessing the English Civil War unit learning, the critical element arising out of the classes’ progress is the need for learners to acquire habits of mind and relation that make this continual praxis possible. For the TALONS (including myself), we may have found ourselves stalled and struggling to define and enact the required action for the moment. But while it may appear so on the surface, this moment of negative momentum is hardly an insurmountable obstacle. Indeed, it is the moment of tension in which true critical intelligences are asserted.

Critical Literacy in Assessment Methods

So we are confronted with the question, How do we know that we know what we’re supposed to know? It is a question of assessment, and one which is traditionally held at the end of units and courses of study as the sole dominion of the teacher. But such are the assumptions which bind both teachers and students to outdated pedagogies that may have fallen out of step with our stated intentions for learning: the apparent impossibility of imagining another way stops us from even considering it.

For my own part, even in projects and courses during which I have taken pains to co-investigate and instruct alongside my students as much as possible, the means of the learning still arrive at a point where my own voice is heard alone.

I arrive at a mark, and distribute feedback based on rubrics, course standards and report card criteria. And this isn’t to say that there isn’t still a place for this within institutionalized learning; indeed our competency and necessity as learning professionals is in many ways bound to our ability to evaluate and assess student learning.

But without obliterating the role of the teacher altogether, it is still possible to re-imagine the role of teachers in helping students direct not only the initial aspects of a project or course of study, but the means of assessment as well. To adopt the praxis of Freire’s critical consciousness is to confront the inherent difficulty of creating learning institutions where

“knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”

While the teacher’s profession still involves the adjudication of academic or institutional success, the creation of a critical consciousness in schools still faces us with what Freire called “the teacher-student contradiction.” However, with the introduction of Russian philosopher Mikhail Bathkin‘s idea of polyphony, Alexander M. Sidorkin cultivates a third path between the ‘either or':

“Bakhtin’s principle of polyphony offers a radically new way of conciliation of power imbalance within mutuality of relation. According to Bakhtin, an author of the polyphonic novel creates heroes that are fully independent of their creator. The problem of authority imbalance may be misstated; it is the specific kind of monological authority that eliminates mutuality, not authority itself. The polyphonic authority creates mutuality, and only this kind of authority should be used in education.”