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Educators Debate The Merits Of Social Media Technology In Classrooms

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social-media-classroom

In this digital world, opportunities for education are available like never before. Though teachers using online tools are empowering students take part in their education, they may also expose them to inappropriate material, sexual predators, and bullying and harassment by peers.

Teachers who are not careful with their use of the sites can fall into inappropriate relationships with students or publicize photos and information they believed were kept private. For these reasons, critics are calling for regulation and for removing social networking from classrooms — despite the positive affects they have on students and the essential tools they provide for education in today’s digital climate.

The positive effects of social networking sites in education are profound. According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota on student use of social media, students who are already engaging in social networking could benefit from incorporating it into curriculum.

Christine Greenhow, who was the principal investigator in a study, elaborated on the impact social networking could have on education.

“By understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as-yet-unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected, and meaningful to kids.”

Through utilizing teaching techniques that incorporate social media, teachers are able to increase students’ engagement in their education, increase technological proficiency, contribute to a greater sense of collaboration in the classroom, and build better communication skills.

A Mashable article titled, The Case For Social Media in Schools, also details several reasons for advocating the use of social networking in the classroom and provides a real example of how it is affecting education in a positive way.

“A year after seventh grade teacher Elizabeth Delmatoff started a pilot social media program in her Portland, Oregon classroom, 20 percent of students school-wide were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades had gone up more than 50 percent, and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third.”

Karen Cator, from the U.S. Dept. of Education, in an online question and answer series featured onedutopia.org also commented on the potential of social networking to improve the American education system.

“Think about not only incorporating technology into your lessons, but creating more and more compelling assignments so that 21st century skills, the kinds of things students will have to develop in terms of critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, global participation — that these are incorporated into assignments. The best spaces will incorporate social media, and interacting with others. “

Another study, which analyzed how students performed when asked to use twitter to do assignments, found that students who were asked to “contribute to class discussions and complete assignments using Twitter increased their engagement over a semester more than twice as much as a control group.”

Use of social networking not only benefits students, but also provides new opportunities for communication amongst teachers and administrators. According to a report featured in The Journal of Educational Technology Systems:,

“Tech savvy administrators are using blogs as a tool to keep parents, teachers, and students informed of the things going on in their schools.”

As calls for education reform resonate across the country and looming budget cuts indicate a grim future for many public schools, online tools are becoming valuable resources. Some say, however, they come with too great a risk. Reports of sexual predators have raised the alarm and prompted parents and legislators to question the potential of using social media for education.

Though sexual predators are often cited a the primary concern, Amanda Lenhart with the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, explained, in an article for the Houston Chronicle, that this is less of risk than it is made out to be.

“Mostly kids at risk already have a bunch of social and emotional problems in their lives. These kids are the ones who might engage in risky behaviors, seek out sex talk online and knowingly meet people who are older.”

According to the article, “Peer-to-peer harassment and bullying are much more common threats to online youngsters,” which is a concern both online and off.

Both Federal and state legislation has been proposed to curb the use of social networking in schools, which has incited controversy over the legality of such legislation. Critics believe that regulating online activity is a violation of first amendment rights.

In lieu of the controversy, networks have stepped up their efforts to create safer online communities for students. Facebook, which currently has over 900 million users making it the largest social networking site, partnered with the National PTA “to promote responsible and safe Internet use to kids, parents and teachers.”

According to a report about the collaboration, “National PTA and Facebook will establish a comprehensive program that will provide information, support and news to encourage citizenship online, reduce cyberbullying and advance Internet safety and security.” Facebook went on to create both safety and education tabs that provide information and resources for educators and concerned parents.

Myspace also established a partnership with the Attorney General, created a safety task force, and released a list of strategies for online safety.

There have also been several student-oriented sites and programs created to provide safety without sacrificing social networking opportunities. According to a report issued June 2010 in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching “Educational Networking” is a new erupting trend utilizing “social networking technologies for educational purposes.”

The report emphasizes that these new “social networking sites aim to capitalize on the enormous popularity of online social networking while simultaneously providing a more secure and regulated platform for social networking activities.”

As the debate over the role technology and social networking play in the classroom continues, proponents on both sides are fighting to find a balance between the importance of innovation and the safety of students. Though there are risks associated with encouraging students to use social networking sites, proponents argue the potential for opportunity outweigh the costs. As solutions that satisfy both sides continue to develop, online education resources may pave the way for growth in America’s schools.

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Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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