Category Archives: ECI830

Wizard vs. Cynic – Summary of Learning

Sorry, it’s really long. My summary of learning tries to demonstrate how there are two different perspectives for every issue discussed in class. While I seem to often stand somewhere in between (but mostly pro-tech), it was amazing to engage in such critical dialogue with peers.

I also apologize for the lack of theme music so if you need your fix:

It’s been a pleasure, people. Have a fabulous summer!

  • Koskie Out!

Filed under: 21stedchat, digitalcitizenship, eci830, Edchat, edtech

To Unplug or Not to Unplug… is that the question?

In a world so digitally dependent, where our entertainment, work and social relationships are deeply intertwined with technology, the concept of unplugging and walking away from social media and digital technology seems difficult, if not impossible.

Unplug Source

Even so, there are many that are concerned about this dependence — this need that we as a society have developed to be connected 24/7.   Many advocate for unplugging, suggesting that digital technology is bad for our brains, our productivity, our real-life relationships and that it causes anxiety and increases work-related stress.  Many suggest that social networks actually make us lonely and provide compelling arguments about why everyone should unplug more often. 

The Forbes article, Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely, expresses the concern that people use the internet to avoid our realities and “whether loneliness leads people to the Internet, or the internet to loneliness, it seems that many of us turn to the internet to avoid simply being with ourselves.”   It advocates for turning off our devices and spending time focused on real life relationships.  This is supported by the other article, Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often, which tells us that “scheduling regular “rest time” in the form of unplugging makes sense—like a muscle, the brain needs recovery time in order to develop and grow”

Brain Recovery Source

On the flipside, we have others arguing that unplugging is pointless, that technology is empowering and we should just use technology to relieve anxiety and stress.  To me, this seems dangerous.  I do not believe that increasing our use of digital technology, social networks and the internet are the solution to the social and personal ills that these things cause.

But I also do not believe that that everyone unplugging is the answer.  We cannot all simply disconnect.  We are too far down the rabbit hole for that.

Rabbit Hole Source

My classmate Steve talked last week about the challenge he does with his class, wherein he and all of his students unplug for a full month.  By the sounds of it, there are mixed levels of success from his students.  Although I see the attempt at doing this for a month as a very difficult challenge indeed, I do believe that there is merit in it.  Our students were born into a digital world, whereas many of us are able to remember a time when we were less digitally connected.  For them, the idea of being without their devices or internet access for a day,  let alone a month, is likely quite the challenge indeed.   A month might be a little extreme, but I do see the benefit of encouraging students to try to spend some time unplugged, interacting with real people, in a real environment.

I do believe that that looking critically at our personal digital technology and internet use, and perhaps curbing it a little might be worthwhile.  We’ve spent a lot of time in this course weighing the pros and cons of aspects of digital tech and seem to often come to the same conclusion — that it is fine in moderation, but can be dangerous.  If your usage is at the point of addiction, maybe it warrants a bit of a break.  Unplugging is rarely permanent, and does not need to be, but remembering that there is a whole real world out there is probably worth something.

 


I Will Not Smile When the Battery Dies

The last ed tech debate, and the last time I will hear the sweet sweet beats of our EC&I 830 theme song, discussed the following: We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

The agree side, comprised of Janelle, Kyle, and Dean, argued that people are too reliant on technology and need to step away from devices. Constantly being connected to the web can be unhealthy. While being in online communities may seem like a great way to collaborate and find genuine support, many people feel more alone when their social media use increases. This article states being online “cannot … fulfill our deep innate need for intimacy, genuine connection and real friendship.” Interesting, I guess the friends I have made over the past 15 years from online gaming cannot be “real friendships.” Sorry, guys! Really, this assertion bothers me; I don’t think Margie is the all powerful wizard who can tell you if a friendship is real or not.

Last month, a friend I met on Guild Wars, when I was 15 years old, called me. He is 28 years old, from California, and has been a soldier in war since I have known him. We have stayed in contact for 10 years. He called me to let me know he is getting compensation for everything that he has been through. We stayed on the phone for two hours — discussing Trump *barf*, dating, politics, and successes and hardships throughout the year. Without technology, this type of friendship would never be possible. Sorry to break your bubble, Margie, but I consider this a very real friendship and a genuine connection. I wish we could stop arguing connections we make online are not genuine.

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Retrieved from https://5636spring13.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/socialization-part-2/

Technology has allowed me to keep important connections with people. One of my best friends is in Calgary and we have a traditional Skype session every Sunday (or Monday to discuss GoT). Do I wish we could meet in person? Of course! But I’ll take virtual Tanille over no Tanille at all. Additionally, I tend to travel a lot and meet a lot of people along the way. Two years ago I went to New Zealand and every year I have met up with a friend from Wales in the summer (she comes to Saskatchewan in two days).

I do think technology can encourage people to communicate less with people who are around us. I think it’s important for people to be aware of how they use technology when they are around other people. I get extremely frustrated when I am hanging out with friends and they are constantly checking their phones and texting other people. I usually just tell them to put their phone away if it’s getting out of hand, which leads to some awkward silences. I have noticed an increasing amount of students sitting in the common areas around the school, playing separate games in total silence and sometimes I wonder if this habit will hurt their ability to converse verbally with others. EA Prince argues that humans do need to unplug from technology to stay healthy:

I think he brings up some valid points. Although, his message would be more powerful if he didn’t tweet nine times today.  He brings up some previously discussed topics: the pageantry of vanity, selfishness, loneliness, and instant gratification. These are all problems we need to face, but I don’t think unplugging is the answer. I will not smile when the battery dies.

Danielle Istace defines unplugging similar to how I do:

“Unplugging to me, means disconnecting from all sources of non-face to face communication. Phones. Emails. FaceTime. etc. To me, unplugging, really means, becoming totally inaccessible. And, frankly, I don’t think this is necessary in order to get the cleansing effects of not using technology.”

Tayler, Nicole and Angela argued technology is a part of who we are and we will never truly unplug from it. Casey Kept discusses how unplugging from technology is not authentic because “the goal [of unplugging] isn’t really abstinence but a return to these technologies with a renewed appreciation of how to use them. Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas.” I think this is true. There is (maybe?) one person I know who has stayed off social media and severely limits their phone use. The rest of my friends’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts reappear after a few days. Can stepping away from social media and heavy internet use help people regulate what they do and how often they are online? Maybe. And if that’s the case, then I guess close your accounts for a few days.

But, like my on-and-off Keto diet, going to extremities isn’t going to last very long and you are, more than likely, going to fall into your old habits (whether it be food or technology use). People are better off with moderation. Don’t eat the cake (OK, a tiny sliver of cake). Keep the phone on the table when you are with family. Leave the phone in the tent when you are camping. Get used to the feeling of having technology accessible and choosing not to use it. Bonus: It will save battery life.

  • Koskie Out!

Filed under: 21stedchat, digitalcitizenship, eci830, Edchat, edtech

Do we Need to Unplug to Create Balance?

This past week I have spent a lot of time analyzing how I go about my daily life with technology in it. As I moved from day to day throughout the past 7 days, I found myself asking if taking my phone with me certain places was really necessary. I noticed a lot. For example, in the mornings, when I get my daughter out of her crib, I find myself automatically grabbing my phone to take it with me to grab her. The thing is, if I were to get a phone call or text when I was getting her up in the morning, I wouldn’t stop what I was doing with her to answer it anyways, yet I am so programmed not to live without my device, that I just have it with me always.

As I moved through the week, I also took time to look at the people around me. Yesterday, for example, I was at the Belle of the Ball, (princess party) with my 3 year old. My daughter was so excited about seeing the princesses and wearing her princess dress, that it was impossible not to feed off of her enthusiasm and get caught up in the moment. When we got to the party, my first reaction was to want to capture every moment, so I could share it with my husband when I got home. And, well, to be honest, that’s kind of how the party started out…. and then I got to looking around the room. Cell phone after cell phone was out doing the exact same thing…capturing the moment, but we were all IN THE MOMENT, and very few seemed to be soaking it in first hand. It made me think about the video “I Forgot My Phone“, that Justine posted in her blog this week. There was more picture posing going on then dancing, and I took a step back, looked at my phone and decided to tuck it back into my pocket and take in the moment first hand. I didn’t need to turn off my phone, or leave it in the car to do this, I just simply put it away and enjoyed my daughter’s excitement with her in that moment. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

But, just becauseBraya princess I happened to take this picture, I’m going to share her cuteness with you all anyways! haha Sorry!!! What I did realize in this moment though, was that this one photo we took before we left the house, was enough.
The memory was there for her to look back on in the future, but capturing the moment did not need to be the main event of this special moment with her.

 

Throughout this past week I have spent a lot of time considering what Unplugging  means to me. I’ve also thought about if I feel that it is necessary. Awhile ago, I randomly came across this video on Facebook.

This week I wasn’t surprised to see it again when it came to the weekly readings. This young man makes some excellent points. He states that while “technology claims to connect us, connections have gotten no better”. I think he is right too. I agree that using devices enables us to avoid face to face interactions when we want, but also helps us to make connections to those who are far away with the touch of a button. I think it is something that we need to think about. There are definitely endless advantages to having technology accessible, but there is an URGENT need for people to find a balance of how much tech time is enough… or where that limit is when it comes time to put the phone away and plug into the reality around you.

Sophia Breene, guides us to consider many important points in her article Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often. She points out that “spending tons of time online can actively harm relationships, interpersonal communication skills, and mental health.” As we have gone through this class this semester, I think we would all agree that this is valid. What I disagree with however is the need to UNPLUG in order to prevent this from happening.

Here is why:

Unplugging to me, means disconnecting from all sources of non-face to face communication. Phones. Emails. FaceTime. etc. To me, unplugging, really means, becoming totally inaccessible. And, frankly, I don’t think this is necessary in order to get the cleansing effects of not using technology. Put your phone in your pocket, and keep your hand out of it. Put your phone on the counter, and leave it there. I don’t think there is a need for it to be totally unplugged, rather a balance needs to be created.

Last year, a friend of mine made the decision to unplug from technology from 10pm until 8am every week night. It seemed a harmless, and maybe even healthy idea. Here is what went wrong. One night, her father had a heart attack. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance and later passed away. Family from all around desperately tried to reach my friend, but was unable to reach her. Staying up-to-date with technology, she no longer had a landline and was virtually inaccessible during this emergency. As a result, she never made it to the hospital in time to see her father before he passed. To me, and my friend, this was a tragedy. Having to have someone drive to her house to get her in person, almost seemed like a blast from the technological past. But it was the reality of unplugging. 9223503647_e12e740835_b Photo Credit: Trojan_Llama via Compfight cc

This is just one reason why I don’t agree with unplugging. What I do propose instead, is to find a balance. Choose times/situations/ scenarios where you decide that your phone will not be pulled out. Create a balance and stick to it. It is all about setting limits and being true to them. It is just as freeing to put your phone on the shelf and leave it alone without having to turn off, if you can handle NOT checking it every 5 minutes. One thing that I have done is allocate special ring tones on my phone to my husband, siblings, parents, and daycare provider. This way, I can keep my phone with me and be aware that I am receiving text messages or phone calls, but not have to race to my phone when I am in the middle of other important daily events, without worrying I will miss an important call or text. This has worked really well for me until now. Alternatively, putting my phone on the “do not disturb” setting but including the people who need 24/7 access to me in my “favourites” is another effective way of being able to disconnect from technology without needing to be 100% unplugged. Through doing this, the people in my favourites, can still get through on my phone, while the beeps and bells on my phone notifying me of new Facebook posts, snapchats, instagrams, Google Plus community posts,  etc., can be minimized while I am plugging in to the reality around me, preventing me from missing life’s simple pleasures of day to day happenings.

Instead of unplugging, perhaps it would be better if the concept of “creating balance” catches on and helps people to develop and follow new protocols for how to connect (without going crazy) in the Internet Age. Sophia Breene has many helpful suggestions.

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Photo Credit: PaprikaMuffins via Flickr

Mary Beth Minton, had a helpful Ted Talk where she pointed out that it is easy to limit the screen time for children by “filling time playing in snow, laying on floor playing with toy, and sparking imaginative play”. I think if tech time is provided to children in moderation, balance can be created. Of course this also goes back to the role modelling that parents provide for their children. If parents limit their child’s tech exposure, but are constantly connected to their device, there will be inconsistency, and it will only be a matter of time before the child finds their way to being connected at all times like their parents.

So, there you have it. Do I think it is necessary to unplug? No. Do I think it is necessary to set boundaries to limit times and situations when devices should be present? Absolutely. As we become more comfortable with the way that technology is integrated into our everyday lives, I think, we, as humans, will become better at finding this balance, and in turn become better connected with the outside world we are living in. This is my hope, and my goal. I look forward to continuing to find this balance in my life, as I model this for my children as they grow and look up to me for guidance!

Thank you to everyone in my EC&I 830 class for helping me to open my eyes to the bigger tech. picture out there! I am so glad that we embarked on this journey together! I look forward to seeing many of you in the future in other grad courses along my way! Have a great summer everyone… and thanks for reading!

 


Balance

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Photo Credit:  www.trans4mind.com

This is a thought provoking topic and one that requires some personal reflection.  As with many of the topics we have delved into throughout this class, there are key points to think about on both sides of the debate.  At the risk of sounding repetitive, I want to underscore what I consider to be the most important factor concerning this topic and more importantly life in general:  BALANCE!

The numbers quoted in regard to “time spent plugged in” are staggering, especially the time spent online quoted in the video “If this video doesn’t convince you.”  It puts things into perspective for me, because like so many, I am insanely busy most days.  Why then do I feel the need to spend countless hours on my phone or other device?  The answer is actually quite simple; technology allows me the opportunity to connect with many of my family and friends when I am able to do so; at the game, practice or waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  Social media provides me with a forum to stay in touch beyond my yearly Christmas card and the odd email.  Using technology I have been able to reignite the close relationship I used to enjoy with a cousin living in Halifax, catch up with friends from high school and university and share precious photo memories with family living in Ontario, who would otherwise not be able to watch my children grow up. Is this a rich form of communication?  Probably not, but honestly I believe it is far more than I would be able to achieve without the use of technology

In contrast, like many other pastimes, incessantly posting and messaging on social media can and has become for some, an obsession of sorts.  This is where the importance of balance and self-control comes in.  Individuals need to take responsibility for their habits; the reason for the constant attachment to social media is not to be found with the social media, it needs to be investigated as part of the choices people are making in their lives.  Like any addiction, those who are struggling need to look inward to find the cause of the issue.  Ultimately, there is a complex reason for the dependency that cannot be investigated and understood simply by removing the object of addiction.  There is a deep rooted cause for the behaviour.

Earlier this week I was introduced to this video about MeanTweets (yes on social media!)   and I believe there is a connection to this topic engrained in the message shared within this clip.  There are some people who use social media to promote ideas that are disturbing and who hide bravely behind their keyboards because it is easy to post rather than share ideas and comments in a face to face manner.  In my opinion, this is the dark side of openness and being continuously plugged in.  Perhaps a simple guideline might be “do not write things you are not willing to say in person”.  Once again though I believe these ideas related to “digital citizenship” are personal value choices, worthy of teaching our students.  It is essential to promote the “good” and not dismiss all of the important contributions technology makes to our lives.  “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” 

baby-and-bathwater

Photo Credit:  brickandtree.wordpress.com

So, the question remains; do we need to unplug?  I think the answer is quite clear; we need to find balance with the use of technology, just like we need to find balance in many aspects of life from exercise to television watching, to working.  The balance we strike in our lives is a personal choice but essentially just that; a choice.   If we can embrace the positives of being connected to others through technology and work to alleviate the cons from impacting our lives negatively, we will learn to live in a harmonious balance that is tailored to our individual existence.

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Cree Medicine Wheel

Photo Credit:  ojibweresources.weebly.com


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)

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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

 

 

 

 

 


Plugging Away

In the last 8 months I have used about 10 GB of space on my phone with photos and videos of our new family of three. I am constantly taking pictures of our baby and her new experiences and adventures. Is it wrong that I pick up my phone to capture her crawling across the floor or experiencing different foods? Is it time for me to unplug and live more “in the moment”?

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Photo Credit: Kaptain Kobold via Compfight cc

Our final debate in EC&I 830 was: We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug. The agree debaters,  Janelle, Kyle, and Dean suggested too much technology is making us anti social and unable to live in the moment, but did also say that there needs to be a balance. The disagree debaters, Tayler, Nicole, and Angela  felt that unplugging really makes no difference in our lives, but agreed that we do need to find an appropriate balance.

 

There are many video’s on the internet (ironically enough), that encourage people to unplug. This video depicts the all too familiar scenes that people live everyday in the struggle to find a balance with technology. I don’t think we need to completely unplug from technology, but we definitely need to be attentive to the situation and recognize when to put our phone away.

 

To me it depends on what your definition of unplugging is. Is it to describe a complete “detox” from technology? Removing all technology from your life? If so that’s not really possible, nor is it going to make much difference in your life, Jurgenson believes. .  I do think a healthy amount of being off technology (or unplugged) is necessary to have a happier and healthier life. Breene’s article  reminds us that it is important to schedule in regular “rest time” where we unplug from technology .  She suggests it is feasible to step away from our devices and to allow ourselves to re-connect with other human beings, nature and other extra-curricular activities.

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Photo Credit: torstenbehrens via Compfight cc

I had never heard of the terms Augmented Reality vs Digital Dualism. Basically augmented reality is the belief that we are not living two separate lives. Who we are online is who we are offline. Yes, we may not include all the little details about our lives in our online profiles, but I also guard many parts of my life from friends and coworkers offline anyway. Not everyone needs to know everything about me online and offline, but I am the same person whether on or offline.

Technology can enhance our lives when used with discretion. Casey Cep states “that for some, it may take unplugging to be able to learn how to live a better life while plugged in, but it is not technology that is the actual problem… For most of us, the modern world is full of gadgets and electronics, and we’d do better to reflect on how we can live there than to pretend we can live elsewhere.”Unplugging will look different for everyone, some people may need to unplug more to find that happy and healthy balance and some might need to unplug less. Technology can cause stress and anxiety for some but for others technology can  be the very thing that can help ease our stress and anxiety. This article introduces 12 mobile apps that help relieve stress and increase happiness.

The key is finding a balance and knowing when it is time to “unplug” and when it is ok to plug back in. Being plugged in 24/7 is exhausting, whether it is being plugged into technology, work, family or just day to day life. Too much of anything can be overwhelming, regardless of what it is, and we need to find our own balance to feel “healthy and happy”.

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A little balance, nature and final EC&I830  blog

When I take a photo of a memorable moment in our daughter’s life I’m not ruining the moment. To me I am enhancing it. The moment can be shared with her dad, who is at work. One day, she will get to relieve those memories through video and photo and experience the joy we felt in those moments. I know I love watching VHS home video tapes from special moments in my life. I think it is how we balance capturing the moment(taking a quick video to remember the memory) and still enjoy being in the moment that is important.


Is the issue technology or our socially constructed concept of technology?

For me, the two most influential arguments on this topic were presented in Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk and Nathan Jurgenson’s Digital Dualism article. Unfortunately they did not make it any easier for me to determine which side of the debate I fell on considering that they presented opposite views on whether we need to unplug! Turkle makes a compelling argument that we need to unplug as technology is creating the “illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

Consider our Facebook accounts. Don’t you feel comforted by the number of friends you have and feel a ping of excitement when you get a friend request? However, if we were to scroll through our lists of friends and ask ourselves which of these people we are actually close to, how many would that be? How would this realization sit with us? For me, and I would imagine that I am not too much of an outlier, this would not come as much of a surprise and any disappointment would be short lived as I remembered that in amongst all these people I have a network, albeit much smaller, of close friends. So is our use of technology really that detrimental to us? Have we really become too dependent on it and need to unplug?


Photo Credit: Sarah Mirk via Compfight cc

In order to answer this question, we first have to define what we mean by dependent. Humans are reliant on a great many other tools, such as cars, power stations, medical instruments, but we would never think to question whether we should unplug from these tools. So let’s agree that this argument is not about how society would function in a post-apocalyptic, technology-void world. So what is it about our phones, computers, and internet that makes us debate whether or not to shut them off? I think it is the fear that this type of technology is eroding part of our humanity – our intimate connectedness with each other. So let’s define dependence by that and say that this argument is about whether technology, on an individual basis, is causing the destruction of our relationships.

Photo Credit: Nestlé via Compfight cc

Is it really technology itself that is to blame for the strength of our relationships or is it our personalities? There is such variability in how much people “look down” and immerse themselves into their phones and social media. Perhaps it is not technology that is causing these people to look down, but an aspect of their personalities. We all have a friend or two who cannot put their phone down and stay focused long enough to have even a short conversation with us, but I’m sure we also have lots of friends who have no trouble doing this. So is it really the technology that is influencing this behaviour or is their behaviour influenced by their personality and if you were to take the phone away from them would they not just find something else to divert their attention to? If it is our personalities influencing our behaviour with technology, then it is actually our personalities that we need to unplug from! Can we really do this and so easily adopt of new way of interacting with our surroundings? So is it technology that is the problem or how we are using it?

Photo Credit: BarnImages.com via Compfight cc

This brings me to the second argument that has really influenced my thoughts on this debate – the fallacy of digital dualism and how it is being reinforced by the self-help industry. Nathan Jurgenson claims that the self-help industry would like to convince us that it is the technology that we need to be saved from as it is inhibiting us from fully participating in the “real” physical world. In denying that the digital and physical worlds are intertwined in an augmented reality, we are presented with a problem – perhaps even an illness – that companies will try to capitalize on as they offer us the next solution to rid us of the technology dependency problem. There is quite a market for digital detox getaways, unplugging apps (slightly ironic!), and digital detox books to convince you that you have a problem that you need to attend to. The great thing for this industry is that we are likely to be repeat customers as we struggle to find a solution to our “technology problem.” The one thing that can threaten this industry is a change in what we view as normal, healthy technology use – removing the idea that there is a problem that needs fixing.


Photo Credit: MJ Rap-Rock via Compfight cc

Our society has a socially constructed view of what constitutes a healthy digital lifestyle. We are constantly reminded of the negative consequences of straying too far from this normal and healthy amount of digital usage. Studies show a positive correlation between internet use and anxiety and depression. I do not want to dispute this correlation, but I would like to us to consider whether another factor could be at play here that is influencing this correlation. Could anxiety and depression with internet usage be influenced by a societal belief of what healthy and normal internet usage is? If high internet usage was seen as normal, perhaps these individuals would not be depressed. Could the depression people experience with high internet usage be influenced by the societal view and pressure that the internet should be used in moderation? I’m arguing that healthy internet use is not an absolute, objective concept, but a social construct that is influenced by time and place. So an individual who is deemed to spend “a lot of time” on the internet by society’s point of view may be experiencing anxiety and depression because of the tension caused by believing that their internet usage behaviour is abnormal and unhealthy.

Photo Credit: escapedtowisconsin via Compfight cc

So getting back to the debate about whether we are too dependent on technology and in need of unplugging, I would say no, we are not. I do not believe that it is the technology itself that is the issue. Technology is just a tool. What matters is how we use this tool and the socially constructed view we have of what constitutes healthy use of this tool. These are the factors that will influence our connections with others.

 

 


Should You Unplug from the tangled “WEB” we weave?

Wow!  It’s crazy how fast a spring class goes and how much you can learn when you take the time to step back and reflect.  I think that’s been my favorite part of ECI 830 – Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology.  The chance to talk about Ed Tech issues that are shaping our world with thoughtful, creative educators who are passionate about learning.

Our topic this week asked,

Have we become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug?

cell-1344985_960_720Pixabay (TheHilaryClark) – CC0

It’s June and as educators, I think we are all counting down the days until we can unplug and step back and take a breath. Not because we don’t love what we do, but because whether tech related or not we all need a chance to recharge.  It helps keep us healthy.  Perhaps the question really is do we actively make time for ourselves?  Is it about unplugging or setting aside a few minutes in a day for you to recharge? Our devices need time to recharge maybe we do to:)

8bcaf3662f33c28e98e1cbf38e943aaf-610x475Image from 14 End of Year Memes That Any Teacher will Understand

I reflected in my summary of learning that how we choose to use technology impacts us directly, but as I continue to reflect it always comes back to balance.  And just what is balance?  In Dre’s final blog post, he talked about hanging out in the grey areas – the space between – finding moderation.

It’s how I choose to shape my life. It’s the small choices that I make each day that over time shape the life I live.

Chip & Dan Heath in The Switch and Malcolm Gladwell in the Tipping Point both noted the significance of context and how it’s often the small things that cause a change to tip one way or another.  It’s also about how you shape the path (context)… so if you aren’t thinking about it just who is shaping your ed tech path?

It brings to mind the story of Two Wolves told from a Grandfather to a Grandson…

Two Wolves
Screenshot from First People – The Legends

There’s always multiple perspectives to each issue, the one you feed will get stronger.  I think the scary part is how often do we stop and think about which wolf we are feeding? I know that this class has taken my Ed Tech reflection to an entirely new level.  In fact, I think it’s taken my ed tech interactions to a whole new level.  When I travel with my consultant colleagues to our various schools, we have time to talk in the car.  My colleagues are very supportive (I’m fortunate to be surrounded by SLPs, Counselors, OTs and Ed Psychs on my travels.  Talk about a amazing support team, outside of family and friends;)

My point is when you start the conversation…when you choose to step in and talk about the issues, you never know how it will ripple out and who will be impacted by your conversations.

Think about the number of different people you interact with on a daily basis – students, parents, teachers, Admin, support staff, community members….At one point in my teaching career I was seeing a minimum of 130 students a day.  The conversations that you have and your willingness to share your stories and your reflections matters. And those are just your face to face interactions, consider your online connections.  Think of the ripple effect… now consider if your conversations start a word of mouth epidemic… now there’s a potential tipping point (It’s a great read – Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point).

I found this week’s spoken word videos are a form of communication that maintains my attention (it seems to be harder to do in the days of information overload).  I love podcasts and Ted Talks but the rhythm and rhyme of spoken word creates a engaging flow of ideas.  I was drawn in by “If this video doesn’t convince you to put down your phone, nothing probably will.

He raises some thought worthy questions – Do touch screens make us lose touch?  We have large friend list but are we actually friendless?

Or in this case is the question more important than the answer?  Is it that it makes you stop to think for a moment?  And if it does resonate with you, will it cause a change?

Gary Turk also uses spoken word to encourage us to “Look Up” at the world around us.  Have we lost our connection skills?  What are we missing if we don’t look up?

 

Looking for an interesting read?   Margie Warrell‘s article “Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely?” explained how recent studies noted that “despite being more connected than ever, more people feel more alone than ever” (2012, para 2).  In fact the people who most reported feeling alone were in fact the most “prolific social networkers” (para. 2). She also shared that we have less close friends than we did 25 years ago and social media enables us to control our vulnerability and vanity…turns out that true connections require vulnerability and that means it isn’t always pretty. (Brene Brown‘s Daring Greatly – is an excellent read on the value of vulnerability).

binary-1327493_960_720Image from Pixabay – Geralt – CC0

Warrell suggested 7 strategies for building a “REAL” social network, I’d argue they are basic life strategies: (the bracketed comments are mine).

  1. Unplug (I’d say not just from tech but make time for you to recharge)
  2. Become a Better Listener (Always a good strategy)
  3. Engage in your community (not just online)
  4. Practice Conversation (Face to face interaction is more than words)
  5. Find Like Minds (Look around – who challenges you to grow?)
  6. Reconnect with long lost friends (go for coffee)
  7. Invite People over (Yes, but first I have to clean my house;)

Just this week I was talking with my colleagues and I mentioned how we had discussed the addiction to the internet in one of our many debates.  Interestingly, the counselors both mentioned that connection is the opposite of addiction and then they shared a comment that made me pause…. so what happens when we think we are helping someone’s addiction by taking away their device… how does that help them find meaningful connections? What determines meaningful?

Sophia Breene (2015) commented that “social media is the Green Eyed Monster’s preferred stomping ground” (Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often). It conjures up quite an image for me, but is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) causing us genuine anxiety?  Don’t laugh, an Anxiety UK study noted

“if you are predisposed to anxiety is seems that the pressures form technology act as a tipping point, making people feel more insecure and more overwhelmed.  These finding suggest that some may need to re-establish control over the technology they use, rather than be controlled by it” (Anxiety UK, 2012).

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Image from Pixabay – geralt – CC0

So if you’re not thinking about how tech is affecting your life, who or what is shaping your life? And do you lead two separate lives (online and offline) or just one augmented life that now encompasses the digital world. Jugenson (2011) reasoned we “live in one reality, one that is augmented by atoms and bits… an augmented self” (p.3). As far as I know, life exists in the moment we are living in. The online affects the offline which in some cases affects the online.  It’s a tangled web we weave.  And so I return to the idea that it’s the choices we make that affect the life we live.  Social media and tech are part of the world we exist in.

 It’s your choice to mix the atoms and the bits, but the more important question is do you every stop to think about how ______ is influencing your life and is that the life you want?  It’s your life, you get to write the next chapter. 

bfed9a_8bb1e1a124c049da987669c54296750bCreated using Canva

 

Thank-you to my ECI 830 classmates for stepping into the arena and sharing their stories.  It’s truly made for a rich learning experience.

way-1031336_960_720Image from Pixabay – Unsplash – CC0

So will I unplug? The end of July will mark an intense 23 months on the ETAD journey, starting a new business, working full time as a Learning Consultant and being with my family.  Have you ever heard your family and friends say I’ll see you after you finish your next class?   It was my choice, I shaped my own intense path.  I’m a self admitted workaholic that attempts to find balance each day (and I don’t always win – but I attempt to fight the battle and tech is only part of it).  It’s a work in progress.  By the end of July, I will complete my ETAD program which I’ve done completely online.

My favourite parts were when I went to Saskatoon to work on a couple group projects with classmates face to face…and the two times I attended class (Yes twice I attended Saturday classes).  It wasn’t the project or the class, it was that I had the chance to meet the people face to face.  It’s the fun of going to a PD event and meeting your online classmates in person.  And with that I pause… I’m a classic introvert and as introvert face to face interactions cost a lot more energy.  I think I’m more of an offline introvert online extrovert – it’s complicated (Collier, 2011, para 2).

I did attend one Saturday Grad Seminar on research ethics.  I opted to go in person, it was the loneliest seminar.  A room filled with people that I didn’t know from a diverse variety of colleges.  Everyone else appeared to know someone.  Sure I could have tried to add myself to a table but it was a month and a half into my masters journey and my network was all online and this seminar was for every new grad student at the university.  At the end of the day I wished I had taken it online…I might have met more people that way or at least found the ones that I only knew by their online profile pic and name.

So just keep in mind as you choose to use different types of technology and instructional strategies in your classes, each choice affects each of us differently.  So variety is important as it gives us all time to recharge and step out of our comfort zones once in a while.

Without the connectivty of online classes, I wouldn’t have gone back to school at this point in my life.  Two hours away from a university makes for long drives just to get to class. I’m glad I chose to complete my masters online, but how deep you go online has human costs.  I’m very thankful for a supportive family and close friends (no one does the Master’s program alone all your friends and family do it with you;) and that goes for my online friends that have supported me too.

So will I unplug? I have to say I’m looking forward to evenings where I can choose whether or not I engage online. There will of course be the mandatory summer hermit phase when I attempt to recharge (do all teachers go through this or just me?), but in the hermit phase I’ll still be online.  Will I disconnect from tech?  Not likely.  Will I attempt to be more conscious about my choices. Yes.  Will I think twice before I fall into a pattern?  I think this class has certainly opened my eyes.   In Go Pro, Eric Worre, explained that you become most like the 5 people you spend the most time with and these people will change as you grow and learn.  So I hope I’m aware of who’s around me and that together we will find ways to connect in and step out in a dynamic balance (equilibrium).  After all if you walk into a room and you are the smartest person there, you are in the wrong room.

Unplug or not, it’s really about the way to you choose to experience your life.  Will you leave a well documented online legacy or will family and friends be the ones to share your stories around the fire for years to come?

What will your story be?


Social vs. Anti Social Media

This week was bitter sweet. I particularly enjoy logging on every week for the #greatedtechdebate. It always makes me think. This week the debate was We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

Up until this debate, I was always about the idea of unplugging. I have always felt this was best for me. For me the idea of unplugging gives me the ability to step away from the hectic life I have chosen to lead and live in the moment.  I particularly liked Prince Ea in this video.

This made me want to unplug almost instantly. Can we not even have conversations anymore? Are we really making ourselves more lonely by relying on social media for self gratification?

But then I listened intently to the disagree side. There main point was in today’s world there is not point to unplugging. They challenged the idea about relationships online not being “real”. How often do we use technology to communicate with loved ones?  and what does unplugging really mean? Does that mean no social media or no electronics at all?

It really got me thinking about how much so many people rely on technology to connect with the people they care about most. If you are long distances away from friends or family we rely on social media to help us connect with the people closest too us. I know when I can have a conversation with a good friend or family it helps me de-stress and decompress. It really got me thinking is it even possible to unplug? How much of technology is ingrained in our lives? So much of technology is used in schools, homes, and work places can we really unplug?

Let me know what you think.