Category Archives: Technological World

Go Deep! Ask Questions Before Implementing Tech Resources

kevin dooley / Free Photos

As I skim educational resources and discussions on the web, I like that many of the conversations are changing towards thinking about purpose and ownership when planning tech integration. It helps us avoid implementing “novelty tech”, which I akin to clowns jumping around in the front of the classroom grabbing students’ attention. A checklist by Sue Lyon-Jones helps get teachers started.

But, after reading the chart, I still think we need to go further in our questioning when thinking about the purpose of technology in the classroom. We need to ask a whole other list of questions. I presented these at ECCO last year in my presentation about Google Docs. When thinking about integrating any tech, ask yourself:
How will the technology support…
media literacy?
digital citizenship?
social learning and communication?
critical thinking?
collaboration?
differentiation for learners who learn best textually, auditorily, kinesthetically?
assessment and marking (teacher, self, and peer)?
organization/management?

We also need to think about some of the inherent changes online tech brings to the classroom. Anything posted in a learning environment with 24/7 access helps students have access to reviewing and continuing work; it also ramps up transparency, which most certainly increases accountability for both student and teacher (think time stamping and the permanency of text in public spaces).

There are some subtler differences to pedagogy that are all wrapped up in the choice and use of a particular tech. Some of these may be hard to spot until you’ve actually tried out the technology or poured through someone else’s action research. These may include significant shifts in pedagogical teaching/learning methods. I really noticed this while using Google Docs. After asking permission from the 18 years olds in my classes, here are some of my findings.

My Christmas Gift to My Family

I’m always trying to find ways to teach my kids how to set up their own boundaries when it comes to using technology, but sometimes they need a bit of a push in the right direction. As an early Christmas present to my family, I decided to buy a family mobile device charging station with some “family terms of use” attached.

We’ve always had a rule that cell phones and ipods are to be turned off in the night, but I’ve found my kids sneaking my charger, their phones, and ipods away into their rooms on occasion. It can be tough helping them buy into the notion that there’s a time to “un-tether” themselves from their devices. To help them detach, I’ve thrown away our yellow basket of jumbled up cords and chargers and replaced it with the family charging station, located in one central location-our kitchen. I’m teaching my kids that undisturbed sleep is important to stay healthy in both mind and body. My husband and I are modelling this behaviour by using the station ourselves and turning off our devices at night as well.

It turns out that setting up a family charging station isn’t as pricey as you would think. This particular charging station cost 40 dollars. And did I mention that it’s also eco-friendly? Instead of continuing to suck power like most other chargers, this one shuts off entirely when finished charging. Not a bad price for all the benefits it has to offer.

For more information on teens and texting, check out my research findings on the teens and texting page.

Dealing With the Stress of Living in a High-Tech World

As school approaches, I’m reminding myself not to get thrown back into the chaos of being constantly plugged in. It has taken me two months to get back to paying single-focused attention to the events going on around me. In July, my idea of unwinding meant surfing the net and answering messages while watching TV. By the time I got to the cottage we rent every summer, I couldn’t even allow myself to just sit on the beach and enjoy watching my children, the waves, or absorb some sunshine. That’s even without a signal going to my cell phone. I had to read book after book, fiction and non-fiction, to focus my wandering mind. I took walks every morning and night to calm my nerves. By mid-August my heart palpitations had finally calmed down.

Now I look to another busy year of teaching Communications Technology to high school students and teacher candidates, working towards the paperless classroom, and continuing my research on teens and technology, and I know I must find good and efficient daily coping methods. While filming a documentary for my Masters I talked about stress and technology with Dr. David E. Meyer of the University of Michigan and with Linda Stone, former executive of Apple and Microsoft. I put together a short video on how stress builds and what it does to us, as well as coping methods.

Dealing With the Stress of Living in a High-Tech World
Dr. David E Meyer and Linda Stone

Linda Stone and David Meyer on Living in a Fast-Paced Technological World

While shooting for my documentary on teens and texting, I had the opportunity to fly out and meet former senior executive of both Apple and Microsoft, Linda Stone. Linda is a well-known and respected leader when it comes to talking about technology and managing attention in a fast-paced world. Her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, the New York Times, The Economist, The Boston Globe, and the Harvard Business Review. She is also a speaker at corporate conferences.

Here are some clips from the interview. Linda talks about continuous partial attention and multi-tasking, email apnea, as well as uni-focus and managing attention.

Dealing With Email Apnea

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Continuous Partial Attention

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Unifocus and the Yearning for Less Multi-tasking

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Contemplating Quality of Life

Music Albums: Down in a “Blaze of Glory”

 

Jon Bon Jovi told the London Sunday Times magazine that iPods and other digital mediums have destroyed the business, saying, “Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like…God, it was a magical, magical time. A generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’ “ He added, “Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.”

 

Jobs actually saved what was left of the music industry by helping artists find a way to monetize what was left after illegal downloading nearly finished it off. Though digital technology finished killing off the music album of our beloved past, it certainly didn’t start here. Remember making mixed tapes for your friends and lovers? “Theme” tapes were popularized in the 80’s when recordable audiocassettes became widely available. Couples would pull their albums off the shelf and select songs that helped them express how they really felt for that special someone. Others would make party tapes of the greatest hits, recording off the radio, off other tapes, and of course off vinyl albums. My brother would argue that the gleaning of thematic or top-rated songs from albums happened even earlier in time, as his friend’s father was a D.J. in the 70’s and used his reel to reel machine to create mixes, but notice I’ve used the word “popularized” to describe the recording of mixes in the 80’s, as production of this blank recording media took off.

 

In Canada, recording artists demanded that the government add a special surcharge to each blank tape sold, called a Private Copying Levy that is set by the Copyright Board of Canada and currently collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective. Still, music lovers everywhere abused, and continue to abuse the privilege to make a personal private copy of their albums. CD ripping and digital file sharing has just amplified the “pick and choose” landscape that had already begun with the proliferation of making mixed collections on blank cassette tapes.

 

Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the old music album of our youth. Can you genuinely name a recent album that has come close to the ones we worshipped way back when? I’m not knocking today’s music. I just think we’ve entered a new era of “singles”, “doubles”, and maybe if the music is hot enough, “triples”. So, what did those long albums have back then, that others today don’t? Two of my favourites, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love both tell stories throughout their albums. This single narrative weaving its way through the entire album had a cohesiveness that would have been sacrilege to separate. But, do today’s youth listen to albums the same way we did? Research shows more than ever, that youth are prone to flipping through music, often not even finishing a song before going on to the next. The music trough is so full and the market so saturated with choice, that when you combine the wide availability with the way hyper-mediated youth switch their attentions so much quicker than we did, the dying of the music album seems like an obvious end.

 

So, what’s left then? The simple answer is the consumptive experience. Bon Jovi is just going to have to get used to hitting the road for more tours, ‘cause that’s where the money’s at.

(photo courtesy of: By Maxime Felder (originally posted to Flickr as iPod Battle 2) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)