Balance is so important to me, something I try to find in all areas of my life: work and family, health, socializing, educational trends, and of course technology. I struggle with finding and keeping the balance of all these things daily.
Technology is a wonderful tool that has allowed me to do many things, professionally and personally, I never could have done without it. I met 4 of my nieces and nephews in the hospital via Skype, I’ve connected to authors of books I’ve read, I get current basketball scores without having to stay up and watch the game, learn from other educators across the world, reconnect with friends from childhood on FB, and of course I can binge watch my favorite shows thanks to Netflix. While none of these things are completely necessary, being able to experience them makes me happier and a better person/educator. Could I live without them, of course, but do I want to? No.
Flexibility is needed in order for learning, with or without technology, to happen. Looking back on my days as a college student I appreciated the professors that gave me both of these things. When I had the flexibility to make the learning my own and I had the consistent presence of support I knew I could go to. Pre-technology it was laying under my desk to read the class text or doodling with markers while listening to the lecture. When I was allowed to figure out who I was as a learner I felt more connected to the teacher and therefore was more interested in her class. I’m not sure if that is because teachers like these tend to have more dynamic and engaging classes or I felt obligated to after the flexibility I was given in class, either way it led to me being interested.
We can see how technology has changed our lives for the better, and just because it might distract students doesn’t mean we push it out. Instead, we should embrace it with balance. When doing my own learning for COETAIL and my Masters courses I needed Facebook breaks to help me refocus, and sometimes through mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed a brilliant thought would hit me and further my learning. Common Sense Media shares about different types of screen time not all being equal and how to try and find the balance of it all.
- Passive consumption = watching TV, listening to music
- Interactive consumption = browsing the internet, gaming
- Communication = social media, video chatting
- Content creation = creating digital art and/or music
I don’t appreciate the negative fear mongers out there that infringe on my learning with a computer/device. Just because I am on my device during a meeting (or in class) does not mean I’m avoiding work or entering the friend portal, in fact I may be deepening Rushkoff’s principles of time, place, choice, complexity, scale, and identifying and through my reflection I can make connections to the content, myself, and the world around me. I don’t fully agree with the study against multitasking, but rather see it is a way to get supplemental information whilst the professor or a classmate is sharing. In Megan’s post she shares her assumptions about professors that banned technology, I couldn’t agree more.
The most powerful learning experiences I have been a part of had one thing in common…student engagement. It didn’t matter if it was playing Oregon Trail or writing a bill to present to our class Congress, if I was enthusiastic about the learning task I wasn’t distracted by outward things. For me I see technology as a tool, how I use that tool is up to the professor. They can encourage me to access more information or discourage me to make connections outside of their classroom, I prefer the former.