What is face-to-face communication?

Technology has changed how people communicate. But has technology changed things for the better?


By Brandon Koebel

Have you noticed that millennials would rather text a friend sitting in the same room than have a face-to-face conversation? What happened to the “good old days” of talking with friends, catching up after the weekend, or simply hanging out to catch up? Technology and social media happened.

What happened to “let’s meet up for a coffee?”

The widespread adoption of technology and social media platforms has ruined face-to-face communication. No longer is it necessary to pick up the phone and talk with someone – text messages have taken the place of phone calls and Snapchat and Facebook have replaced the need to get together with friends in order to share what is happening in life. No longer is it necessary to walk across the office to ask a colleague a question. Instant messaging allows colleagues to share information, collaborate on tasks and get instant updates on important information. Our world has changed rapidly, but has it changed for the better? Perhaps the loss of face-to-face communication will have negative effects on society. Sherry Turkle explains that some of the things we now do with our devices would have been considered odd only a few years ago.

What are the consequences of changing communication methods?

Emily Drago explores how technological advancements have altered individual communication. Drago’s study found that while 62% of study participants utilized technology while in the presence of another individual (texting, talking, listening to music), and 74% of study participants agreed or strongly agreed that it bothered them when a friend or family member utilized technology while spending time together. 92% of study participants agree that technology has negatively affected face-to-face communication.

Social anxiety has been linked with increased use of online communication (Pierce, 2009). It appears that those who utilize technology as a primary means of communication experience greater discomfort when talking with others face-to-face.

While online and technology-enabled communication is valuable in the 21st-century workforce, a 2014 Skills Gap Study completed by the Four County Labour Market Planning Board revealed that employers continue to seek employees with strong verbal communication, social and interpersonal skills.

Next Steps

Debate swirls around the topic of face-to-face communication. While some (like Professor Paul Stoller) argue that technology has created an, “increasingly large group of ‘educated’ university students who appear to be ignorant of the world in which they live,” others suggest that digital communication is a necessary and critical aspect of life in the 21st century. Personally, I feel that technology is robbing our youth of the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas out loud. Face-to-face communication remains a critical skill for a wide cross-section of careers. The ability to put forth a well-supported idea and to respond to criticism by peers or colleagues cannot be replaced by an online virtual platform. We cannot let our technology-enabled society suggest that one line answers are sufficient to explain the complexities of the events which we encounter.

Other Resources

6 Reasons to Communicate Face-To-Face

Why Face-To-Face Meetings Are So Important 

Technology: Incredible Tool or Classroom Distraction?

Appropriate use can be a concern when students are given individual pieces of technology and set free to explore the World Wide Web. Significant trust is placed between a teacher and his/her students, to avoid behaviours such as: cyber-bullying, searching inappropriate websites, safe handling of devices, unauthorized photo taking/posting, and mis-use (texting during class etc.).

A 2015 study by the London School of Economics and Political Science compared test scores at 91 schools in England. Researchers found that test scores were higher at schools where cellphone use is prohibited. Furthermore, students who tended to have low academic grades benefited the most from a technology ban.

What are school boards doing to ensure appropriate technology use?

Some school boards are adopting a Use of Technology Policy to govern the way technology is used by Board employees and students. York Region DSB, for example, includes a variety of irresponsible and unethical uses of technology within their policy document. These include: sending, receiving, or downloading content that is illegal, using electronic devices to record other individuals without their permission, and modifying or gaining access to files, passwords or data that belongs to other individuals.

What are educators in their classroom to do when technology is being misused?

With electronic devices costing hundreds of dollars, administrators and union representatives are hesitant to allow teachers to remove a device from a student’s possession. Some teachers implement a no technology policy, whereby students are forbidden from bringing any form of technology device to class. Other teachers allow students to have devices strictly for online educational applications. Unfortunately, in most schools there does not appear to be a consistent stance on technology use.

With an exception…

Earl Grey Senior Public School in Toronto officially banned the use of cellphones in February, 2017. The school has implemented a new policy which restricts cellphone use to lunch periods and time between classes. Furthermore, students are not allowed to access social media websites or to text at any point in the school day. The ban has brought about conflicting opinions on technology use, with some parents arguing students should have access and others agreeing that technology is distracting students from their learning experience.

What is the solution?

There is no clear-cut solution. Technology is not going to disappear. Are we better to remove technology or to teach students how to use it appropriately? I believe the latter is a more appropriate solution. When students enter the workforce they will have to make the decision to put their phone away or face consequences from their employer. As educators we should be embracing the benefits of technology, and seeing technology as an incredible tool. We must teach students about appropriate use, help students to utilize their device to its full potential, and ensure our students recognize when their device is hindering their learning.





Google Classroom – The Key to a Paperless Classroom

It is taking classrooms by storm. Test out this intuitive platform that increases productivity and reduces teacher workload.


Have you always wanted to reduce the number of wasted photocopies you make every year? Are you looking for a user-friendly platform? Look no more! Google Classroom is an online blended learning platform that is readily available to educators as part of Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Google Classroom allows teachers to set up a collaborative online learning space where students can submit assignments, complete quizzes, access shared documents, comment on posts, and easily access class files with Google Drive seamlessly integrated.

Key educational benefits of this tool:

  • Creating a paperless classroom has never been easier – share Google Docs, invite peer collaboration, and easily collect student assignments in one easy-to-navigate platform.
  • Google Classroom allows for seamless integration of all Google Apps (Google Docs, Calendar, Drive, Gmail, Sheets, Forms, Slides).
  • Content is available 24/7 and can be accessed on any mobile device with an internet browser.

Getting Started

Google has developed numerous how-to videos, making it easy for educators to participate in professional development and implement new ideas in the classroom.

Teaching Ideas

Google Classroom has unlimited potential. It has been called “Google Drive Management”…providing educators and students an easy way to connect all that Google Apps for Education has to offer. Here are just a few ways that Google Classroom can make your life easier!

Idea 1 – Post Templates / Notes

Google Classroom’s media stream is the perfect platform for posting student handouts, assignments, or URL links. No longer can students use the excuse, “I forgot my homework at school.” When templates are created in Google Docs, students can easily begin to collaborate on tasks. Documents can be tailored to individual student needs, and shared with specific individuals rather than the whole class.

Idea 2 – Communicate from a Distance

Never fret about sudden illness. Use Google Classroom to communicate from a distance. Leaving supply material has never been easier – simply upload student instructions, URL links, a video file or attachments from home. Similarly, students who are away from class can see what they have missed and proactively work to get caught up.

Idea 3 – Complete, Track and Evaluate Paperless Quizzes and Assignments

Tired of trying to track down missing assignments? Do you waste time marking multiple choice and true/false questions? Use Google Classroom as an online assessment tool. Quizzes and Assignments can be easily shared using a URL or through one of Google’s G Suite Apps (such as Google Forms). Students can submit their assignment electronically, attaching required documents or photos to their submission. Educators can easily assess student work, assign a grade, and provide individualized feedback.

Helpful Resources


Did you know that Google Classroom is FREE for educators? All Google G Suite for Education programs are free.

Game-Based Learning: The Key to Improved Math Engagement

Does making math fun produce better results?


By Brandon Koebel

2015 EQAO data indicates that Ontario’s current math strategy is not working. Only 35% of students in the Applied Stream agree that they like mathematics, and 21% say that math is their favourite subject (EQAO, 2015).

The traditional math classroom can be summarized using a simple recipe:

  1. Teacher-centred lesson
  2. Worksheet
  3. Repeat

This repetitive cycle has resulted in disengagement, a lack of interest, and negative feelings about math education. Game-based learning may make mathematics a more engaging process.

A New Generation

With technology integrated into every aspect of modern-society, educational practices must evolve to remain current and relevant to students in the 21st century. This sentiment is captured perfectly in a 2010 study by The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership: “Teachers who use technology frequently to support learning in their classrooms report greater benefits to student learning, engagement and skills from technology than teachers who spend less time using technology to support learning” (Walden University, 2010). Why not use technology to build an engaging, learner-focused approach to math instruction?

Game-based is an interesting possibility. Here are two examples you may wish to consider in your math classroom:


Knowledgehook is an online mathematics platform first released in 2013. Its premise was simple, “Education would be enhanced through gamification because students would want to join in and have fun while learning” (Moreira, 2015). The program can be accessed on any mobile device with an internet browser, making it easy to incorporate in schools operating on a BYOD policy. Knowledgehook’s user-friendly interface based on the Ontario Mathematics Curriculum provides educators with an easy-to-integrate platform that increases engagement, provides instant student and teacher feedback, and provides students the opportunity to practice skills outside of class. Students participate in collaborative blended-learning through a game show-style competition featuring a leaderboard and achievement badges.


Prodigy is an online platform that captures student interest through its video-game design. The program incorporates the curriculum, and allows students to work on differentiated tasks at their own pace. Prodigy includes lesson content, formative feedback and assessment tools.

Should everything be a game?

Opponents to the recent inquiry-based math approach suggest that a more “back to basics” math strategy will produce better student learning and retention. Perhaps our attraction to game-based learning, technology-enabled learning, and inquiry have derailed mathematics. Anna Stokke, an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg, states “tackling math instruction through direct learning may be more repetitive, but ultimately more successful. When information in our working memory is sufficiently practised, it is then committed to long-term memory, after which it may be recalled later.” (The Canadian Press, 2015).

No. It doesn’t make sense for every aspect of every day to be game-based. However, game-based learning has shown positive results. Supporters of the game-based learning movement identify positive outcomes including, “increased engagement and motivation and…social learning” (Christy & Fox, 2014).


Christy, K. & Fox, J. (2014). Leaderboards in a virtual classroom: A test of stereotype threat and social comparison explanations for women’s math performance. Computers & Education, 78, 66-77. Retrieved from

Moreira, P. (2015). Knowlegehook Nears New Funding. Retrieved from

The Canadian Press. (2015). Canada’s math teachers should get back to basics, report says. The Canadian Press.

The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership (2010). Educators, Technology and 21st Century Skills: Dispelling Five Myths. Retrieved from