Category Archives: Connected

Disconnect to Reconect

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It is surprising to think that the little devices we carry with us have such a hold on us.  We constantly check in on our Facebook accounts, take photos, post them and check for likes and shares.  Very few of us go without cell phones for more than a few minutes let alone a few days.  The concept of unplugging has become a bit of a buzz word these days and the concept has been explored by tech wizards and numerous blogs.  Unplugging or detoxing has been lauded for it’s merits as an activity to cleanse the mind and the soul.  But is it all it’s cracked up to be?  Is it necessary to unplug when everything we do is linked to tech and social media?  Life is about finding balance and it just seems as though in the fight between screen time and living in the moment, screens are winning by a long shot.

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The reality is that it’s actually healthy to take breaks from social media and technology from time to time.  Many studies have shown that cognitive function and memory are affected by constant social media checking and idle web surfing.  The brain is like a muscle.  Although it doesn’t move, it does require time to develop and grow after new information is added.  We could consider this processing time.  In fact, studies have shown that taking a break from screens and tech periodically can recharge the brain and improve memory.  Here are some other interesting stats…

  • 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (source)
  • 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.(source)
  • Studies indicate some mobile device owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes. (source)
  • 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television. (source)
  • Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls. (source)
  • Traditional TV viewing eats up over six days (144 hours, 54 minutes) worth of time per month. (source)
  • Some researchers have begun labeling “cell phone checking” as the new yawn because of its contagious nature. (source)

unplug

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I think we’ve all experienced situations such as the ones mentioned during the debate by Dean, Janelle, and Kyle.  I still find it incredibly rude when someone is in the middle of a conversation and the other person pulls out his/her phone.  As stated above, you may have even compulsively pulled out your phone when you saw someone else doing it (much like yawns being contagious).  Now I am not saying that I am without reproach in this regard.  I too carry my phone with me almost all of the time.  I do try to keep it in my pocket when in social situations and having kids has really opened my eyes to the dangers of not living in the moment.  I have been at countless swimming lessons, soccer games and play dates during which not a single parent was actually engaging with their kids or watching them at all.  What could distract these parents from watching their 3 year olds having a blast in the pool or scoring a goal?  As I look around the field or pool deck I consistently see moms and dads hunched over cell phones and tablets, unaware of what’s happening around them.  I am not in a place to judge at all.  Maybe these parents are responding to urgent emails.  Maybe they are preparing something for work the next day.  But, I can imagine that at least some of these parents are engaged in social media activities.  Here is another viewpoint on unplugging shared by a teenager named Lane Sutton, a tech and social media wonderkind.

So, I practice being in the moment.  I make a concerted effort to be in every story, joke or activity with my kids because they are such little sponges.  They notice what we may not always perceive.  My little girl said to me the other day, “Daddy put your phone away and come outside with me.”  She’s 2 and she is already realizing that with my phone in front of me she does not have my full attention.  I realize that we will never be able to denounce technology.  It is now too ingrained in our lives.  Social media has a stranglehold on the way in which we interact with the world.  Even my 87 year-old Grandmother checks her Facebook profile on her Ipad daily to see pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  The key has to be moderation.  Take some time this week to take a break from social media and screens and take part in an activity you love without posting the results or waiting for likes.  Enjoy the smiles on the faces of your family members without snapping a photo.  Get some exercise without posting your workout to social media or fitness apps.  You’ll find rejuvenation of mind, body and soul.

Here are some other great reasons to unplug:

1) Leave behind jealousy, envy, and loneliness

2) Combat FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

3) Find solitude (there is value in having alone time)

4) Life is happening right in front of you (don’t miss out for FOMO)

5) Promote Creation over Consumption (take time to create something)

6) Once the device is gone the level of addiction can truly be understood (as we all know when we have forgotten our phones)

7) Life is about flesh, blood and eye contact

Everything in moderation, as someone once said.

-Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes….Including you!-  Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 


Is Social Media Making us Unsocial?

Growing up in the 21st century means that childhood is defined by, and inextricably linked to, social media.  Children as young as grade 2 or 3 now have personal devices.  Children in elementary and middle school have multiple social media accounts even though many of these require minimum ages of 13 or 14.  It has become a way to connect, to chat, to post our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  It provides answers to questions, gives feedback, and affirms or negates our feelings.  It acts like a catalog of all the information available to us which is shared by others.  It documents our lives in incredible detail if need be.  Social media helps students connect with other students across the globe, collaborate together, post progress and receive feedback.  It is a force of the 21st century world and it is a crucial part of our lives that cannot be ignored.

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However, can we accept blindly every new app and innovation that comes along without knowing how they impact us?  Of course we should right?  I mean, technology is always good, it always moves us forward, it always makes life easier and simpler.  After-all, many of today’s modern conveniences were once new inventions as well.  The difference here lies in the deeply personal aspects of these social media platforms.

As Alison Graham explains, the goals of social media platforms are connections and socialization but it seems that the more we participate, the less social we actually become. Personalized technology that becomes so ingrained in our psyches that we literally become addicted to the likes that somehow indicate we have worth in this world.  Herein lies the problem, with the blind acceptance of social media platforms, it shifts focus away from others and onto the self.  As time goes on, the socializing aspect for which the apps were designed ceases to be the true driving force behind their use.  The self often becomes the true reason for the constant posting and checking for likes.  One researcher even tells of a young man who’s desire to take the perfect selfie drove him to suicidal tendencies.   It tends to drive narcissism to the point where phycological trauma can occur.

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People will argue that these anxieties have always existed and that alarmists are making too much of what we call social media addictions.  When I was growing up, social time with friends was just that…time to socialize.  Talking and laughing about what had happened that day, riding our bikes to another friend’s house to see if we could organize a soccer game.  Some would argue that we look back at our childhood through rose coloured glasses in which we see a delightful world free of stress and anxiety.  Of course stress and anxiety still existed before the age of social media.  However, the difference lies in transparency of lives lived completely in the online environment. If your social status, well being, and self worth comes completely from what is said about you on social media, it’s little wonder that students can not handle being without their phones.  A recent CNN documentary called #Being 13 looked at 13 year olds across the United States and their lives lived on social media.

  • 61% of teens said they wanted to see if their online posts are getting likes and comments.
  • 36% of teens said they wanted to see if their friends are doing things without them.
  • 21% of teens said they wanted to make sure no one was saying mean things about them.

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The Huffington Post released a study in which parents were asked if children were more susceptible to mental health problems in this day and age.  The results indicated that social media was one of the driving forces behind mental health issues for youth.  This is something that cannot be escaped whether it’s negative feedback on a selfie, bullying comments posted on your Facebook wall, or being left out of a group of friends.  The digital online life follows students back to the privacy of their homes each night. Compulsively checking and rechecking to see what others have said about them has become normal for many teens.  This new phenomenon, which has been deemed lurking,  tends to lead to late night with little sleep as students scroll through feeds, answer texts or hit like and follow to show that they are “socially engaged” in popular culture.

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So what does this all mean?  First of all, as adults in a digital world it once again comes back to the idea of modelling proper social media use.  What warrants a post or picture being placed online?  Who will we allow to see it?  What message are we trying to convey with this content?  I always ask my students to THINK before they post anything.

think

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Secondly, it’s important to set limits for social media use.  This falls on the shoulders of the parents but it is something that can be discussed at school as well.  Have students reflect meaningfully on how much they are online.  What are they doing during those hours and are they balancing for a healthy lifestyle that involves enough sleep and exercise?  It’s perhaps unfair to compare our childhood with the one in which students now find themselves.  However, it is more than fair to help students find a balanced and healthy approach to life.

 

 


Push-me-Pull-you: The Dichotomy of Ed Tech

Hi Everyone!  My name is Luke Braun and I’ve been a teacher with Regina Public for 7 years now.  I teach Middle Years French Immersion.  I love being outside and learning to make things. Our classroom is the place to come if you need tools, sandpaper, wires, or odds and ends for a project.  Some of my best teaching memories have been outside of the classroom or in a Practical Arts environment where students really have a chance to shine while they apply what they’ve learned through hand-on experience.  I also love spending time with my wife and 2 young kids.  I love cycling and fixing bikes (according to my wife this borders on obsession at times).  Technology in the classroom has been a huge factor in my teaching career.  I wouldn’t consider myself terribly tech savvy but I’m always eager to learn.  It’s been a steep learning curve so far in 2016.  I’ve had this blog for just under 5 months now and I feel like I’m becoming more comfortable with the format and and also with the value of this communication medium.

I enjoyed ECI831 very much and I’m really looking forward to discussing some of the issues that are involved with technology integration in the classroom.  It should be a very interesting opportunity to further investigate my own preconceptions about technology in the classroom.  I have been teaching French Immersion in Regina Public Schools for seven years now and have a dichotomous relationship with technology in education.  As someone who has invested hours into developing MYPAA (Middle Years Practical and Applied Arts) kits, and as someone who loves the outdoors, I see the value of students learning skills with their hands that allow them to problem solve and become creative thinkers and tinkerers.  However, I have a smartboard in my classroom as well as computers and student devices (BYOD).  We use Google Classroom and Google Apps for Education to stay organized.  We also do quite a bit of blogging.  We definitely rely heavily on these technologies in our learning, not to mention the software that accompanies the hardware.

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Through the course of the last class, which was more focused on Social Media and Open Education, I came to the realization that technology in schools is really a lot like the two headed push-me pull-you from the Doctor Doolittle story.  On one side, the technology has the potential to completely transform education through concepts like open access, Connectivism and Rhyzomatic Learning.   I love the way Dave Cormier describes his disillusionment with the idea of teaching as “putting what’s in my head into someone else’s.”  There is just so much more potential in the belief that learning is not the transfer of one set of knowledge to another.  Technology is one of the ways in which we can now begin to encourage students to share and connect, and to foster deeper and more meaningful learning.  The example in the video below illustrates the contrasting nature of the technological reality that our students exist within.

However, there is also the other ‘head’ to the technology creature.  In this side of the issue we find the many pitfalls and problems that come with the use of tech tools in the classroom.  This can be as simple as access and network issues, to issues of protecting student identity online and cyberbullying.  Does this mean that the negative aspects of technology in the classroom negates its use?  Not at all.  In many ways the issues that arise at times through the use of technology in schools should cause educators to examine and carefully plan implementation strategies. Educators should empower students to take responsibility for their online identities, encouraging them to become true contributors to positive digital learning spaces.  There are so many positive aspects to the use of technology in education but I still feel like I am being pushed/pulled from two different directions at times.

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Sometimes, I feel like I need to try every new technology that I come across and find ways to incorporate it into my teaching.  I try to constantly stay up to date with the latest apps, web tools, and tech teaching strategies.  Other times, due to some of the issues involved with technology, I feel the overwhelming urge to take my class outside and plant a garden, take apart a lawnmower engine, or even try building a kite to see if it will fly. This is the balance that I seek to have in my classroom.  A place where students are not bombarded with technology but where they can use it to enhance their learning.  A place where students can feel free to ask questions and get their hands dirty if need be.

In a nutshell, that’s where my head is at as I start this class.  I am looking forward to discussing both sides of these issues and trying to flesh out the realities that accompany technology integration in Saskatchewan Schools.  I am really looking forward to interacting with the rest of the ECI830 team as we wade into the #greatedtechdebate!  My goals for this term include:

a) Discuss a balanced and effective #edtech strategy in the classroom

b) Discover ideas for minimizing or avoiding #edtech problems/pitfalls

c) Hear #edtech success/failure stories (we learn the most through failure)

d) Grow my PLN

What are some of your goals for this term?  Looking forward to meeting them together this term.  Cheers.


Final Reflection

My EC&I 831 Journey

My beginning

  • Created this sweet healthy lifestyle blog using WordPress (I had created one for my classroom over 3 years ago but didn’t stick with it, as it became work that I could put off).
  • I quickly learned what a widget was and the ins and outs of my WordPress dashboard.
  • Created a professional Twitter account so that I could share information relevant to technology, social media and my PLN
  • Joined a Google+ Community which I didn’t know existed before this class.
  • Chose to complete a Digital Project on leading a Healthy Lifestyle

Along the way

  • Learned how to properly set up my blog and blog pages, and also ask for help when I ran into problems
  • Visit other blogs and tried to add comments or ask questions
  • Ohh my, I realized I was stealing images for years! Not to worry I now know how to properly use images and site them from popular sites like Compfight
  • I also learned some short cuts for adding in images
  • ongoing attempt to to wrap my head around Twitter, all the ins and out and how to tweet and retweet

Not the end

  • Learned that using Tags in my blog helped organized my work and helped me to get more followers
  • Google+ community became an outlet for me to vent and I even tried to help other classmates as well with their questions and concerns.
  • Developed relationship with a few classmates as I would visit their blogs, Twitter pages on a very regular basis!
  • Summarized my learning using an animated movie using the Nawmal software
  • I viewed my nugraphmbers and stats using WordPress and was excited to see what the numbers were showing. My popularity was represented by a graph.

 

 

  • twitterI increased my twitter presence with 63 tweets and 88 followers!

 

 

I plan to continue to use social media in my teaching and education but will also try incorporating it more with my students. I have started to bring more articles into the classroom for discussion, as I come across many different things relevant to the lives of students. There is so much learning that can take place through technology and online, it can be endless. I would love for my students to collaborate and connect with others around the world.  I think that language projects could be a fun venture, something about those cute seniors though.   I don’t want to be that teacher that only gives worksheets and transmits knowledge  I want to be the teacher that provides opportunity and experiences.

I can honestly say that this class has been a learning journey for me. For the most part I enjoyed the flexibility of an online course, but it sometimes was difficult to dedicate time to the readings, as I struggled doing last weeks haha, I really put the slack in slacktivism. It is such a different experience when you are in charge of your own learning, learning at your own pace, learning what you want. I plan to continue to blog my recipes and perhaps I will blog about being a new parent, that could be a fun venture if I have time.

Thank you everyone and see you online and I am look forward to reconnecting soon!!