Category Archives: EC&I 830

Unplugging from technology….Is this the answer?

 We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

The topic for our last debate was thought provoking to say the least. This idea had me looking at whether or not I am too dependent on technology. I quickly came to the conclusion that I fear many of us would. Yes!

cartoon

Source

I came across an article where you can check 7 signs we are too dependent on technology. Do any of these scenarios connect to you?

  1. If the internet is down, work is over for the day.
  2. Buyer’s remorse is much more common.
  3. You don’t live in the moment.
  4. Nobody knows a phone number.
  5. You are dreading having to break up with your significant other face-to-face.
  6. Brick and mortar stores are going the way of dinosaurs.
  7. Without your phone, you feel naked.

When the internet is down, luckily I’ve had plenty of experience. By now I have figured out how to continue on with my day without it causing too much of a disruption. I’ve definitely had buyer’s remorse, moments where I don’t live in the moment, I know very few numbers in my contacts and I do feel naked without my phone. I’m not sure if there is too much I can do about it, but being aware of my dependency is part of the battle we struggle with weekly after participating in the debates.

The agree side of the debate argued that social media is actually an anti-social network. The article, Text or Talk; Is Technology Making You Lonely? describes the impact social media has on making connections based on more than just an “app” and the loss of building personal connections and having actual face to face conversations. Quantity does not mean quality is certainly true for me. I have many friends on Facebook (Quantity) but I make a point of spending time with family and friends face to face (quality). I enjoy it immensely and I can’t imagine not making time for people who are important to me.  Internet was not around until after I was already an adult. I grew up only socializing in person, on the phone or the odd time, I wrote a letter. In many ways, I am very thankful that I didn’t have to grow up in a time of social media and You Tube. I can’t imagine what my digital footprint would look like today. Of course, it would be clean as a whistle!

digital footprint

Photo Credit:giulia.forsythe on Flickr (cc)

“Another recent study found that 48% of respondents only had one confidant compared to a similar study 25 years ago when people said they had about three people they could confide in.”

I found this finding interesting because I always wonder why? It would be much more difficult and complex to build sincere and life long friendships in a world of social media. Children say so many things that are cruel and mean to their friends and classmates. Sometimes to their face, but now these comments are said on social media. How can you trust someone at such a young age when you are trying to build relationships scattered out there for everyone to see?

Allison Graham’s Ted talk touches on many of the points discussed in this debate. Take a moment to watch if you haven’t already.

Another article the agree side shared was another interesting read. I found this quote really stood out to me.

“Compared to reading a newspaper or calling a friend for a long chat on the phone, social media encourages brief, unfocused, multitasking-friendly “check ins” rather than long periods of absorption.”

This is very well said and is absolutely right (in my opinion). If 93% of communication is nonverbal and only 7% is in writing, it is no wonder that studies are showing that social media is making people more lonely even though they have the MOST friends and or likes on Facebook.

The article also discuses the negative impact technology is having on people emotionally, mentally, and physically.

As the article points out, If multitasking and constant email cause a lack of productivity, negatively impact social relationships, and increase overall stress, can simply abstaining from using technology reverse these negative consequences? The simple answer, according to most research, is “yes.”

Finding time to unplug and take a break from technology is becoming a new trend. It makes sense that our brain needs time to rest and be given the opportunity to store short term memories. Due to these new found struggles with technology it is becoming more essential to take some time to “reboot.” There is now a National Day of Unplugging, special getaway experiences where real-life activities and bonding experiences are offered to help with the “withdrawal” of technology. One popular example is Camp Grounded in California where tech overloaded individuals participate in a gadget-free weekend.

 

Camp grounded

Source: Camp Grounded

I have no doubt that technology is here to stay, and with that, learning to adapt and adjust to this ever changing tech world rapidly whizzing by and surrounding us, will continuously be a struggle. Unplugging completely or for long periods of time is likely not the answer for me but I’d certainly consider it if the opportunity presented itself. I liked how Erin has set goals for herself and plans to take regular breaks from technology for short periods throughout each day.

To end off my final blog, I hope you take a moment to watch this inspiring, short video that I hope (but doubt) will be a reality some day. Enjoy!

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/about/excellent.html

 


The Final Countdown…

To Unplug Or Not To Unplug... That Is The Question.


It is obvious that our society is dependent upon technology.  Simply look at how we as teachers are required to input and track data.  Everything requires a device, Wifi, servers, and multiple online databases.  In the video Unplug to Play, Marv Minton starts off the Ted Talk with an image of kids "spending time together" as they are all on their devices.



I shared the first video this week  If this video doesn’t convince you to put down your phone, nothing probably will, with my grade eight math class. They found it interesting and they agreed that it made some awesome points, but when we discussed what they do to put their phones down, it was a different story. They said they have rules about no phones/tech at the dinner table, but then explained that no one really follows that rule. Others shared that the only time they are really unplugged is when they go to remote locations for their family trips where there is no service.

Forgetting My Phone

memegenerator.net

Personally I enjoy getting getting away from my phone, but I do not do it enough. I love having my phone on me, when I forget it at home (once a year) I usually panic until about 10:30 then I can feel my heart slow down and I begin to relax a little. By the end of the day I usually realize how less stressed I feel and contemplate leaving my phone at home more often... which never happens.

Check out this awesome BuzzFeed about the 16 Stages of Leaving Your Phone At Home.


Full Unplug

In terms of completely unplugging I do not see this happening. In the article The Pointlessness of Unplugging by Casey Cep from the New Yorker said
"Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas. Those who truly leave the land of technology are rarely heard from again, partly because such a way of living is so incommensurable." 
I have developed a lifestyle that is connected. I have made the choices to use technology to stay connected to family, friends, colleagues, etc. I have made the choice to do my part in helping the environment by going paperless in as many ways as possible; bills, communication, assignments, or sharing family information. I am not willing to give up the lifestyle I have worked hard to foster.


Communication

As for communication and being a proficient communicator, I feel that by growing up in the age I have I have a huge advantage over the youth of today. That brings me to the question of how to develop strong communicators within my classroom. As with most topics this semester I believe that technology can assist with this task. Through using tools like Google Read & Write students are forced to enunciate and be proficient with their English language for it to work properly. I also believe that giving students the opportunity to record their voices for presentations helps build confidence that will eventually turn into being able to stand up in front of their peers unaided and speak with confidence.


What Is The Answer


As with the concept that has followed through the class. To unplug or not unplug is to black and white of a statement. It should be about a balance. Is it appropriate to be on my phone/laptop/or simply watching TV while we are having a family dinner and attempting to have a meaningful conversation, obviously not. Is it acceptable to share a proud dad moment with family and friends when my child does something, or share that outstanding assignment that a student knocked out of the park. It's about sharing and spending quality time and then knowing when to put the technology down and live in the moment.

The Final Countdown…

To Unplug Or Not To Unplug... That Is The Question.


It is obvious that our society is dependent upon technology.  Simply look at how we as teachers are required to input and track data.  Everything requires a device, Wifi, servers, and multiple online databases.  In the video Unplug to Play, Marv Minton starts off the Ted Talk with an image of kids "spending time together" as they are all on their devices.



I shared the first video this week  If this video doesn’t convince you to put down your phone, nothing probably will, with my grade eight math class. They found it interesting and they agreed that it made some awesome points, but when we discussed what they do to put their phones down, it was a different story. They said they have rules about no phones/tech at the dinner table, but then explained that no one really follows that rule. Others shared that the only time they are really unplugged is when they go to remote locations for their family trips where there is no service.

Forgetting My Phone

memegenerator.net

Personally I enjoy getting getting away from my phone, but I do not do it enough. I love having my phone on me, when I forget it at home (once a year) I usually panic until about 10:30 then I can feel my heart slow down and I begin to relax a little. By the end of the day I usually realize how less stressed I feel and contemplate leaving my phone at home more often... which never happens.

Check out this awesome BuzzFeed about the 16 Stages of Leaving Your Phone At Home.


Full Unplug

In terms of completely unplugging I do not see this happening. In the article The Pointlessness of Unplugging by Casey Cep from the New Yorker said
"Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas. Those who truly leave the land of technology are rarely heard from again, partly because such a way of living is so incommensurable." 
I have developed a lifestyle that is connected. I have made the choices to use technology to stay connected to family, friends, colleagues, etc. I have made the choice to do my part in helping the environment by going paperless in as many ways as possible; bills, communication, assignments, or sharing family information. I am not willing to give up the lifestyle I have worked hard to foster.


Communication

As for communication and being a proficient communicator, I feel that by growing up in the age I have I have a huge advantage over the youth of today. That brings me to the question of how to develop strong communicators within my classroom. As with most topics this semester I believe that technology can assist with this task. Through using tools like Google Read & Write students are forced to enunciate and be proficient with their English language for it to work properly. I also believe that giving students the opportunity to record their voices for presentations helps build confidence that will eventually turn into being able to stand up in front of their peers unaided and speak with confidence.


What Is The Answer


As with the concept that has followed through the class. To unplug or not unplug is to black and white of a statement. It should be about a balance. Is it appropriate to be on my phone/laptop/or simply watching TV while we are having a family dinner and attempting to have a meaningful conversation, obviously not. Is it acceptable to share a proud dad moment with family and friends when my child does something, or share that outstanding assignment that a student knocked out of the park. It's about sharing and spending quality time and then knowing when to put the technology down and live in the moment.

Summary of Learning!

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 830!

It was great starting this class and feeling somewhat confident in knowing that I had taken EC&I 832 in the Fall of 2014. Thankfully, I remembered what I was doing and was able to focus on writing and creating a blogpost with a little more flash to show the progress of my learning. Looking back on my very first post, reminds me how far I have come.

Engage enhance extend wordle

I really enjoy the online format and learning from the class as a whole! The debate format was a hit and I am looking forward to taking my next technology course from Alec and Katia!

Have a great summer!


Don’t unplug, just cut back on the multi-tasking

This week’s debate focused on a very important issue; are we too dependent on technology and in need of unplugging? Both sides did an excellent job and made great points. Here’s my take.

 

Kind of.

 

I have a smartphone (shocking). I use it often. It brings me news, joy, let’s me see my daughter (funny filters and all) while I’m away from home, lets me keep tabs on the Jays game. Overall, it’s a pretty swell device. When my contract ends, will I get a new phone? Yup.

 

Am I too dependent on my phone? Sometimes I feel that way, but comparing myself to most other people, I use it far less. I use about 40-50% of a battery charge in a day and most of that goes to playing podcasts driving to and from work. Speaking of which, those podcasts really add a lot of enjoyment to my day and provide a great reason why I don’t want to ‘unplug’. You have to check out StarTalk, best podcast going!

Photo Credit: la Ezwa via Compfight cc

While I do not consider myself addicted to technology by any means, I don’t really want to go without it. Also, because of the fact that I can use it quite responsibly I do not feel the need to ‘detox’ and put my phone in a separate room, I do it often enough already. But the times that my phone is not on my body, I’ve found that I am more invested in what is going on around me, and I enjoy that.

 

I was at a Regina Red Sox game a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the experience for sure, but was checking my phone frequently as well. Did I miss much of the game? No. But I think when we do that it just takes away some of the subtleties of the experience. We just don’t seem to take in all of the experience that we could be if our attention wasn’t diverted and we weren’t multi-tasking.

 

Speaking of multi-tasking, for some reason so many people feel that they can multi-task and accomplish more. However, this just isn’t the case. Try saying the alphabet from A to J as fast as you can. Ready….go!

 

How long did that take? Less than 10 seconds I’m guessing.

 

Now count backwards from 10 as fast as you can. Ready…go!

 

How long? 4 seconds??

 

Now alternate the two. A..10..B..9…C…8..and so on. Go!

 

 

 

 

Still going? Not so easy is it? Doing each task on their own would have been much faster. Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often discusses how multi-tasking harms our productivity, but I also believe that it makes many tasks less enjoyable as well. Many people probably don’t even watch movies without checking things on their phones anymore at the same time. I’m not sure how you can enjoy the movie to the same extent when your attention is darting from one to another, missing out on certain details and just simply not being as immersed in the film as you could otherwise be.

 

Same thing goes for reading a story. How many people are reading, or studying, and then the phone goes off and it takes their attention away from what they’re doing. Even if they don’t check the phone, just that break in focus is enough to interrupt ones focus. I’ve heard different numbers, but a conservative number is that it takes 5 minutes to really get ones focus back. This slows down progress, decreases studying effectiveness, and if you’re reading a story, it just totally kills the…

 

 

Sorry, my phone beeped. Where was I??

 

 

oh ya! It totally kills the suspense or intensity of the story!

 

So what am I really arguing for here? I believe technology offers us a lot. Kyle discusses in ‘Technology adds Comfort, Should not be Unplugged’ that he feels security by having his device on him so that he can be contacted at any time in case of an emergency. I have a young daughter, and being available at any point does bring a sense of relief, and even without an emergency, just being able to get snapchats of her brings me joy. I don’t like to use the word unplug because it seems to be such a binary choice; you’re plugged in or you aren’t. My phone is often on me, but that doesn’t mean that I’m constantly plugged in. I usually have the discipline to keep it in my pocket when I want to be fully immersed in something else (I still want to be better at this). I think people should ultimately work towards being able to keep the phone put away at times to be able to focus on something else, or appreciate what’s going on right in front of you, or to show whoever you’re talking to that what they have to say truly matters enough that you will give them your full attention.

Photo Credit: cucchiaio via Compfight cc

Self-control can be hard, and so a good way to start might be to set some tougher rules like keeping the phone in another room for a certain amount of time. In ‘Is technology your crutch’, Erin came up with some goals that she plans on implementing. I think I might borrow the idea of putting the phone away for a certain amount of time when I get home after work. I think we need some time in each day to let our minds unwind and to slow things down after a busy day at work. Also, after being away from my family all day, I want to be giving them my undivided attention. Thanks for the great idea Erin!

 

When it’s technology time, by all means, tech it up! But when you’re experiencing something that can be best enjoyed by being fully engaged in the experience, save the battery life for later!

 

Live long and prosper

 


I am dependent. Are you?

We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug

Agree or disagree?

For our very last debate in this spring session, I feel as though I may (finally) be taking a side. Not without some nuance, of course.

It was a very well argued debate, and both the agree team of Janelle, Kyle, and Dean and the disagree side of Angela, Nicole and Tayler were convincing in their statements.

The agree side began by sharing studies showing that tech is actually making us more lonely than in the past. The friendships we are creating are not real; they are actually an illusion, based on what we are deciding to share. We have less vulnerability and intimacy because of our online constructions. Not only that, but we aren’t enjoying moments anymore; we are too focused on technology. This is something that is still being addressed in the news, with the recent story of Adele calling out a fan at her own concert for being too focused on their phone. Finally, this team argued that we are so dependent on technology and data that we aren’t actually developing skills we require to survive in the world without technology.

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Photo Credit: dolescum via Compfight cc

This is what really hit home with me, and the argument that swayed me to take a legitimate stance with the agree side.

As I shared in the chat during the debate, a couple weeks ago, Sasktel had a problem with their Internet. The entire web was down for what seemed like forever – although in the end I believe it was only a couple of hours. My students and I were working on our final project for the citizenship unit we had been doing for a couple of months. They were writing a magazine, and they were in the final stages of the correction process using BonPatron and Google Drive. All of their work was on the computer and on Google Drive. The assignment description was on Google Classroom, and I, too, had started a google document detailing my weekly meetings with the kids to keep them on task. When the Internet was down, we could not access any of this. Kids couldn’t even log onto the chromebooks, as this, too, required internet access.

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Photo Credit: Jordon via Compfight cc

So, of course, I was scrambling during recess to find something else to do for the 75 minute Science class that wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. I knew I wanted to do a Scientific Reading exercise with them later on in the year, and so I went to my computer to print off the exercises for the students. But my computer wouldn’t send anything to the printers, as it was all connected with the Internet. Okay, fine. So I grabbed one of my already printed off copies (on colour paper… not the ideal format for photocopying), and brought it to the photocopier myself. Another roadblock: I couldn’t even log in to the photocopiers, because all of that required Internet. Other solutions, including creating a WiFi hotspot, were also ruled out because I, too, am a Sasktel client.

Needless to say, it was a gong show.

That is when I really started to realize how plugged in we are as a society, and how personally dependent I am on technology. I have never found myself to be obsessed with technology. I won’t go back for my phone when I forget it at home; I rarely use my social media accounts; and rarely pull out my phone when out with friends, something Chalyn addressed in her blog. Just like Janelle, I too have often felt that the constant use of technology can lead to missing out on interactions, on special moments, or in living in the moment. Yet – even with what I perceived to be a lack of dependency on my part- I truly felt an absolute need for technology when it was no longer available. This is when I realized that need to unplug. I need to become less dependent on technology. It was after this no-internet incident at work (and this subsequent perfectly timed debate) that I came to the realization that I need to unplug in my personal life as well. I may not use technology as the ‘cool kids’ do; but how many times have I depended on Google Maps on my phone to help my directionally-challenged self find where I need to go? How often have I used online dictionaries instead of those on my shelf? How often have I simply googled an answer before thinking it through and discovering it on my own? And how many times have I turned on the TV or Netflix to play in the background while I do a multitude of other things, just to avoid the silence (thanks to Erin for helping me realize this through her post)? Too many times to count.

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Photo Credit: televisione via Compfight cc

Now, I am not saying that tech is necessarily the problem here. Just like Tayler and Angela posted in their blogs, I am the one who needs to make better choices. I am letting technology use me, instead of learning how to use it well, which is key to our dependency problem. What worries me is how I have become so used to technology always being around; almost forgetting what it’s like to be without this technology, and how to cope when it is gone. This is one of the main reasons why I believe I have become too dependent on technology, and what I really need to do is unplug; or at least get used to the idea of unplugging in case it is forced upon me in any given situation. I know it isn’t realistic for us to actually unplug 100%, and technology won’t necessarily stop us from acting the way we do or experiencing our lives the way we do. Amy further brings up the important question of what technology is; nowadays it may be Iphones, Ipads, and computers, whereas before it was pencils and lights. Although convincing, these arguments still don’t change how I felt when the Internet was down for those couple of hours. It is that feeling that remains at the heart of this post, and of the absolute necessity for me to quit being so dependent on technology.

Perhaps others can realize this, too, before they are put in a situation where they are forced to realize it. Because as a whole, our society is incredibly plugged in to their devices, by their choice or simply because of shifts in societal norms. Either way, I don’t think it is a negative thing to unplug at least a little bit, as a society as a whole. Perhaps not entirely, but at least somewhat, to not be as dependent on it as we are now.

There are, of course, plenty of other arguments supporting my decision, including the short video below. Check them out, and make your decision about dependency on technology.

 

So, in the end, I know need to unplug. What about you?

 


Is it time to unplug?

Our final debate topic focused on whether we have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug. This topic proved to be interesting to me as I often find it difficult to “unplug” from technology. Technology has become an essential part of my life as I use it to perform many everyday tasks. From paying bills, developing my PLN, and staying in touch with my family and friends, technology has become challenging to disconnect from. As I reflect on this realization, I recognized that I am somewhat addicted to technology. Is this a bad thing? Or now a days, is this normal? I would now like to share an experience which occurred last week. I remember it as if it was just yesterday, it was such a beautiful warm day and I had decided to go buy some flowers that I could plant within a flower pot outside of my home. As I arrived at Dutch Growers, I realized that I did not have my cell phone. I had forgotten it at home and was quite unhappy with my-self but I shrugged it off because it wasn’t the end of the world. As I roamed around looking for flowers, I found my-self constantly searching for my phone and every time I did this, I had to remind my-self that I forgot it at home and it was not misplaced. I had never felt more naked in my life. It was a feeling I did not like. This was when I realized that I have become too attached to my phone and maybe unplugging from it wouldn’t be such an awful idea. However, when I am with my family and friends, I do always try to make an effort to stay off my cell phone, and remain mindfully present.

Both the Agree and Disagree teams shared valuable information concerning this topic and it was very difficult for me to “pick a side”. The agree team discussed how technology can negatively affect our social lives as people can become too focused on their technological devices rather than focusing on real life and the experiences happening around them. By being too reliant on technology, we lack essential emotional needs such as intimacy and vulnerability, all of which we gain from having face to face interaction. As we pay constant attention to our cell phones, we are potentially ruining relationships and risk feeling lonely. Although we may have online relationships established through social media, we need to remember that these friendships do not provide us with the same benefits as establishing face to face relationships. Tinder is an online app which creates a space for physical relationships however it can be risky and dangerous due to not knowing who you are talking to.

The disagree team expressed how it is almost impossible to unplug from technology as we live within an augmented reality and who we are online and offline are the same. Technology connects humans to everything within the world and has been known to improve socialization by offering online communities. There are many online apps that provide assistance with people who suffer from stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness such as The Worry Box or Mood Tracker. It is important to recognize that technology can help manage your daily life and not everybody has difficulty unplugging from technology. It seems as though society tends to blame technology for many of the physical, mental or emotional health problems which exists today but we need to remember that technology is only a factor and not the end result.

Finally, unplugging from technology may appear to be unnatural to some especially if it is used daily within people’s lives. Whether we like to admit it or not, technology continues to advance and younger generations are being born into a world which is consumed by it. It remains up to us to decide how or what we need to unplug from in order to live a full and happy life. If we are mindful, we can contribute towards breaking the cycle of addictions to technology and establish a healthy balance. It is possible to live in the moment while still using technological tools. As teachers and parents, we need to model moderation and demonstrate that it is possible to unplug every now and then.

 


Take a Daily Escape from Technology

Well here it is my last post for EC&I 830!

me at lake
Yes I took this picture with my phone, yes I was listening to music, and yes I was using a running app!  I struggle to define unplug.  The feeling I had when I took this picture was an absolute escape from my daily stresses! I was absent from anyone else or the worry of connecting with others. 

This debate was a timely one in the sense that I have never been so consumed with technology in my life as I have been this past 6 weeks.  With report cards, the never ending school emails, a dozen wedding and baby shower group chats, AND this class.  Sometimes I look at my phone or computer and feel overwhelmed and stressed before checking to see what new notification I even have.  Summer could not come sooner for me.  I cannot wait to move back out to my lake, where I am able escape the world of Wifi / the world of being expected to be constantly connected.

Escape is the big word I must question after Tuesday’s debate.  Can I really escape from technology? Casey N. Cep states in the New Yorker,

Unplugging from devices doesn’t stop us from experiencing our lives through their lenses, frames, and formats. We are only ever tourists in the land of no technology, our visas valid for a day or a week or a year, and we travel there with the same eyes and ears that we use in our digital homeland.”

I guess we don’t ever “escape” or “unplug” completely, as Amy suggested on Tuesday, a large majority of people use running apps or listen to music while going for a run.  When I go to my cabin I am still connected.  Could I really imagine spending my entire summer disconnected from all my friends and family at home? No!  My ability to not open my laptop to blog, input marks, or answer an email I happily leave behind. Please don’t expect to see regular facebook, twitter, or blog posts from me all summer. The large majority of days my phone stays in my cabin.  This to me is true relaxation.  This is my escape and I will love every minute of it.  This being said, I love using the apps to track my fitness progress and will continue to wear my fitbit!  I also have the convenience of using data to pay my bills online while I am away!  All the relaxation but yet technology is still there, I am merely escaping the technology overload, not the technology.

Aubrey raised an unanswered question on Tuesday.  She wondered what is the definition of unplug.  Does this mean we are totally not using anything for a month like Steve challenges his students to do.  This weeks article suggest that in fact technology does not improve productivity therefore, could the definition of unplug be more loose?  Could it mean we take a break from our devices to be more productive?

I guess if you see unplugging as an extended period of time, then I disagree we shouldn’t unplug.  Technology is everywhere and it makes many aspects of our lives better. If this is how you define unplug I hope the radio is off in the car to hear breaking news, weather, etc.  Or have a land line to contact loved ones.

Personally I feel unplugging is more about taking breaks and letting your phone and other devices be untouched while you spend time with family, friends, or with just you!

  • Eat a meal without being distracted by incoming messages
  • Go for a walk or a bike ride
  • Lay by the beach with a good book
  • Play sports
  • Go to the gym
  • Colour

Do we need a National Day of Unplugging?  If someone was addicted to technology, by saying no to it is only going to make them crave it more and perhaps binge when they return and let the world know how amazing they feel after this experience.  Let’s talk about moderation.  Let’s teach youth and ourselves to use technology in moderation regularly and encourage creativity and healthy lifestyle choices.  It could begin by reducing technology use, like the screen time diet Mary Beth Minton suggests in this weeks Ted Talk.    In order to screen diet, we need to provide alternative engaging activities to our kids. Give them an alternate plan for what they will do instead.

Plug in or unplug regardless, all in all I think it is important to take a daily “escape” from technology!  Take a break and enjoy something that is not found on a device.  Take time to build relationships or to relax and be at peace with yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Should we just pull the plug already?

SOURCE:GIPHY

Well, here we are, my final EC&I 830 blog post. Our quick semester flew right by us, leaving me a lot more prepared to begin my next school year in September. With the help of the discussions we’ve had throughout the past month and a half, I have developed a few new ideas relating to how I’m going to be integrating technology in my classroom from now on.

Ironically enough however, our debate topic for our last class focused on society’s dependency on technology, and whether or not we should just unplug completely.

Unplugging completely is quite an extreme measure to take at a time where technology has completely grasped every aspect of society. Just yesterday I was talking to my class about how I saw a $300 tooth brush at the store the other day that could hook up to an Iphone app via Bluetooth. I’m sure the device is great, and tracking my brushing time could definitely have some benefits…I guess.

“Brushing our teeth the OLD SCHOOL WAY!”

I guess this is as good of an example as any, but I would definitely agree that we’ve become quite dependent on technology. Of course, this goes beyond the idea of a three-hundred dollar toothbrush. It’s the fact that we need to keep track of every personal stat for every workout; it’s us needing to post a picture of every dinner and lunch that we have; or having to share every single thought that comes to our heads.

In true fashion of all the EC&I 830 debates, I have managed to land in the grey area of this question once again. On one side, technology is taking over our lives, disrupting our real-life interactions and chipping away at our social skills. Just the other day, we were having a discussion in my class about how difficult it is to have conversations with people when they are more pre-occupied with their phones, than they are with your conversation. Then, we’ve got the other side, where technology can simply be viewed as a tool, rather than a necessity, that facilitates daily tasks.

For my final debate reflection, I decided to go to the source. I decided to take this question, and actually ask the very people that we’re so concerned about. Our students.

I’ve spent the past week and a half discussing some of the debate topics we had in our EC&I 830 class, with my grade 5/6 class. May sound a little weird, considering some of the questions brought up some heavy topics, but they were extremely co-operative and more than willing to answer the questions we were exploring.

We started off talking about what technology even is. I wrote a list of different objects, spanning from a stapler, a rake, a spear, a typewriter, paper, pencils, tablets, laptops, virtual reality, space crafts, the Large Hadron Collider, and many others.

I proceeded by asking them “What do all of these things have in common?”

Kids made associations between some objects, saying how pencils and papers had things in common, as well as spears and rakes, and computers and laptops. We spent a great deal of time breaking down the list, but none of the students made the connection that all of these objects are considered technology.

We explored the concept of technology, and how it’s evolved and become bigger and more exciting things. To them, technology obviously refers to electronics, devices, social media; this is what they were brought up with, this is what their definition of technology is to them.

We compared our grandparents’ childhoods, with their childhoods. We talked about what we do differently today. But then I asked them “What is something you wish you could experience that your grandparents or older generations have told you about when they were your age.” The answer were interesting. The most common answer I got back from them was “not having technology” and “being free to do anything you want, and not being connected to everything and everyone all the time”.

I proceeded to ask them why they felt this way, and many of them told me that the reason they wish to leave these things, is because they find that they are spending too much time on their devices. They found that their parents and grandparents had more interesting upbringings than them, and that they wish they could do some of the things their family members did when they were young. One of my students told me that there are too many rules nowadays, and he can’t just “go outside”. He told the class that he wishes phones didn’t keep track of where people are and how you can get a hold of anyone at any time. He identified some of the risks of not being connected, like being kidnapped or getting hurt or lost and not having anyone find him. He also mentioned how people like his grandfather got in all sorts of trouble, but nothing ever really happened to him.

Of course, not all the kids had the same answers, many of them thought the past wasn’t that exciting at all and they didn’t really want to experience a life without the technology we have now.

I then asked the class to do a quick role play. I stood in front of the class and chose a volunteer. I handed my volunteer my IPhone and told them to pretend I was someone from 1916. I told the class that my character I was playing had no knowledge of what a cell phone was. The question leading up to this activity was: “Imagine you could go back to the past, and show someone from 1916 a device from the future. What would you show them?”

So I told my volunteer to pretend that they were showing me, the man from the past, a device from the future. My student showed me the device and told me what it was.

Student: “This is a cell phone”

Me: “What’s a cell phone?”

Student: “It’s a device that you can go on social media and talk to your friends”

Me: “What’s a device? What’s social media? What do you mean I can just talk to them?”

Student: “Well, it’s a phone, so you can talk to anyone?”

Me: “A phone….?”

Student: “Yeah, you know, a telephone!”

Me: “Ohhhh, you mean those things that are attached to the wall that the rich folk have in their homes? But how is this a telephone? Why isn’t it attached to the wall?”

Throughout the role play, the student was getting frustrated, because he wasn’t able to explain all of the cool features this device was capable of doing.

Me: “So what is this social media that you speak of?”

Student: “Well… social media is something where you…. It’s an app.”

Me: “What’s an app?”

Student: “It’s kind of like a program that goes on your phone.”

Me: “A program? Like a schedule for an event?”

Needless to say, this went on for a while and the student (eventually students, because my first volunteer gave up midway) experienced a lot of trouble explaining the features and appeal of this amazing device. The purpose of this experiment was to show my class how different our lives really are compared to older generations(and even people who DON’T have these devices). Putting these things into perspective helped them see how difficult it is for people who aren’t connected to understand the things that we’re so infatuated with.

We ended up making a pros and cons list of technology. The results are surprising:

"Cons"
“Cons”
"Pros"
“Pros”

According to my class, there are far more cons to technology than pros. When I asked them to beef up the pros list, they really couldn’t. They told me that although technology is helpful, they often find it difficult to use it appropriately. They said it’s a distraction, and even if they try not to overuse it, they always end up doing so anyway. So the kids that are growing up with tech are coming up with some of the same conclusions many people are making on topic. It’s always interesting to see what your students really think.

We started talking about being connected, and I asked my class who would be able to fully drop technology. Most of my students said they would never abandon technology altogether. Some of them said they’d be more than willing to get rid of social media, but not other things like video games or their phones.

We proceeded to watch the Paul Miller story, the man who stopped using the Internet for a whole year. For many of the reasons my own students identified, Paul abandoned the internet for many of these same reasons.

When I asked my students again if they could abandon technology and fully disconnect, only two students said they could do it. Most of my class said that they would never unplug because there’s no need to unplug. Watching the video of Paul showed them that although he seemed happier at the end of the experiment, he still didn’t end up doing a lot of the things he had the intentions of doing with an entire year of “FREE TIME”. Some of my students said that the busier they are, the more they get done. Some of my students said that they can take or leave technology, because they still enjoy being outside and playing with their friends. Many of my students made the distinction between digital and real-life interactions, saying how they are both different types of interactions. Although they like socializing online, nothing will compare to real-life interactions.

I could go on forever, but at the end of the day, the message that came out was moderation. Once again, we find ourselves in this gray area of the debate. Technology, although quite harmful in many ways, is still something a lot of us are unwilling to completely abandon. Even me, unless I HAD to, I would never be able to just drop tech. What I learned from my students however, is that they are fully aware of the dangers and the negative aspects of tech, and as far as they see, their solution is moderation and backing off and taking a break from time to time.

I don’t think I answered this question, as much as I just took a better look at it. Unplugging, as I said, is so extreme. Is it possible? Of course it is, but what I find is that at this point in my life (where my job, schooling and social life depend on tech), it would actually make my life a lot harder to manage if I didn’t have these things. I, like my students, also believe in moderation and being able to step back when you have to. I almost feel defeated by technology, but perhaps we shouldn’t look at it this way…

This class was a huge learning experience for me and I’m really happy I got to share a lot of my thoughts with all of you. Thanks for everyone’s input every week, your comments challenged me and gave me the extra push to further explore my thoughts.

Great job everyone! I hope you all have a great summer.

Cheers,

Dre


Live in the moment. With and without technology!

This debate was very difficult for me to pick a side I agree with. As a physical education teacher I often find myself telling my students to unplug, go play, enjoy nature and limit technology use.  However, I am a self-declared hypocrite because I will often be outside playing with my son with my phone in hand or phone close by.  I am the first to admit I am guilty of becoming too dependent on technology.  I am the kind of person that drives home to get my phone if I forget it. However, on the flip side I think that if I got accustomed to not always having my phone on hand, I might actually be able to relax, enjoy and soak in the special memories with my family.

The agree group made some valid points; I found I could relate to some points more than others. One example they discussed was going out for dinner with friends. The purpose is to go out with friends and socialize with one another and yet there are times where there is no conversation happening because they are attentive to their phones rather than their friends.  Our phones have become a distraction in many instances and it is up to us to minimize these distractions and limit our technology use to the appropriate times and places.  I have experienced trying to have a conversation with someone when they are distracted by their phone, the feeling of loneliness and unimportance of what I have to say to them leaves me feeling secondary to their phone conversation.  I have made a conscious effort and commitment to keep my phone put away when having face to face interactions with family and friends.  I do keep the ringer on in case of emergency; however, I am making a decision and taking the effort to value the importance of these relationships and refraining from using technology.

It is quite interesting that this group discussed that we have become too reliant on technology and are unable to perform simple tasks without digital knowledge. I actually laughed out loud when they said this. I immediately thought of before our son was born.  I remember buying a ton of things that needed to be built and rather than simply reading the instructions to build these items I quickly YouTube “how to build _______” and told my husband how to do it.  In reality we should have been able to sit down, read the instructions and build what needed to be built. However, it was much easier and convenient to You Tube and have someone walk us through it step by step.  In this situation, we have become too dependent on technology.

The topic of capturing moments via technology rather than capturing them with your own eyes really hit a nerve with me. As a first time parent selfishly I want to capture as many things on my device as I want so I can share milestones, growth etc. with family and friends.  Word of mouth doesn’t have the same impact as being able to share those moments with people you truly care about through technology.  I am guilty of capturing many things through the use of technology and I can’t really say I have any regrets for doing it.  I have said many times, everything is in moderation.  Ashley spoke about a lady in front of her at the Garth Brooks concert recording the whole show on her device when in reality she was missing a live show to watch in through the lens of her phone.  Capturing a few moments here and there isn’t the problem. I think it is when we are constantly looking through a lens and not living in the moment, in the real world, then it is a problem!

hudson outside

I would like to touch on the fact that technology has become an addiction for some people. Like anything in life, everything needs to be done in moderation.  If you are finding yourself addicted to technology, maybe the best thing to do would be to unplug for periods of time or limit your technology use throughout the day.  There are many options for people who feel they are too wrapped up in technology. It’s just a matter of making changes and adjustments to your life.

The disagree group had many arguments that were valid and worth taking a look at at as well. They suggested that we do not need to unplug to have balance.  We can find balance in our lives with the use of technology, we just need to use it in moderation and incorporate into our lives when necessary.  We can achieve balance while plugged in; technology is a tool we use and we don’t necessarily have to unplug to be mindful.  The group suggested that our digital and physical worlds are the same therefore it is virtually impossible to unplug.  When I think about this statement, I think about kids who go to school in real life, they deal with bullying and then go home and faced with bullying online.  There is no escaping as our worlds are combined.

One statement they used that I don’t agree with is ‘who we are online and offline are the same’. The first thing that comes to my mind from this statement is the show “Cat Fish.”  Someone can portray themselves to be someone online but in reality they are a completely different person.  There are many people who use technology as a tool to enhance/make changes etc. to themselves and their lives. They want to portray themselves as desirable to others.  As an educator and a parent, I think it is essential that we let children, adults and others know what they see online is not necessarily what they see in person.

I have said it time and time again and I will continue to do so, EVERYTHING IS IN MODERATION.

Technology can be a great addition to our lives, however, we need to be mindful that it is not the be-all and end-all.  We still need to have face to face interactions, build and make friendships in real life and be able to perform simple tasks without the use of technology.  I am not saying that we should never use technology but we need to use it in moderation. If you forget your phone at home, is it essential that you turn around to go get it? NO! Try a day unplugged, who knows maybe you will feel relaxed, enjoyable and with a lot less stress.

I would like to thank both groups for presenting great views, opinions and research to support their sides. I really enjoyed the debate but once again I find myself left on the fence on this debate.