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Week 6: Does Connectivity always lead to Productivity?

The internet has changed society in literally countless ways. As I’ve mentioned earlier, authors like Neil Postman have explained that for all the positives that come with technology, a list of negatives follow. Technology and the internet have created a world of multitaskers, that need only a few clicks or swipes to seamlessly hop between tasks. However, the ability to lose focus and distract yourself form your most pertinent task is a risk for students and adults alike.

Read more: Week 6: Does Connectivity always lead to Productivity?

I love being connected. Whether it’s my phone, laptop, or desktop, I truly enjoy being able to quickly and efficiently have access to the world’s information. This being said, I actually surprise myself with how easy I can slip into a pit of distraction. I’m the type of person that has 20 Chrome Tabs, a dozen Microsoft Programs, and numerous pieces of drafting software running all at the same time. And I wonder my laptop runs hot.

It’s no better on my phone. I’ve consciously cut my homescreen down to only the most necessary apps, yet I typically have 10-20 apps (with another 50-60 Chrome tabs) open at any given time. My girlfriend says it’s a problem. She might be right.

Personally, I think this behavior stems from a few places. My career requires attention to detail, keeping deadlines, and numerous meetings. As such, I often fear being disorganized or forgetful. It’s oddly comforting to know that I will see that window several times throughout the day, subconsciously giving myself several reminders of what needs to be done. There are certainly better ways to do this, but this seems to hit a sweet spot between time efficiency and effectiveness, which leads to the process’ continuation.

The other, and arguably greater factor, is how easily I let myself become distracted. Constantly being distracted, results in constant multitasking. This is partly due to my teaching load crossing disciplines, and age groups, while also needing to work closely with families, administration and outside agencies as part of my Learning Support role. These realities result in numerous notifications and requests, all of which compete for my attention. This makes me realize that, by far, my favorite feature on my phone is simply the ability to double tap the menu button that allows you to switch back and forth between applications nearly instantly. I’m able to hop between text messages, gradebooks, emails, learning applications, calendar invites, attendance reports etc. quite efficiently.

However, reflecting on all this also makes me concerned. How fully present am I in the moment? Just because I was able to quickly respond to a request doesn’t necessarily mean I gave it my full attention when doing so. Additionally, with the numerous grabs for my attention present (re: soooo many Chrome tabs,) I often end up slowing myself down from my most pressing task, with the numerous amount of distractions that are present.

So what can I do to improve? For the life of me, I cannot remember where I originally read this, but I came across an article discussing a CEO’s approach to dealing with his email inbox. (I thought it was in this class, but I couldn’t find it within the weekly plans, so it could have been within someone’s post or in one of my other classes. I apologize if it was from you!) Regardless, the advice has stuck with me. The article explains how Brad Smith, CEO of Inuit (TurboTax) approaches his emails. His goal is to ‘never touch something more than once’ or in other words, to deal with each email immediately rather than to leave it to deal with later. He decides between ‘Read, act, file or delete.’ This is a strategy that I feel I (and likely others,) could adopt regarding my own emails (and chrome tabs.) Giving my full attention to a task will make it easier to deal with it in the moment. This has the potential to reduce the amount of ongoing tasks within my day, leading to the opportunity of feeling more organized.

Tied into this discussion, is the group presentation from this week. Maddy, Raegyn, and Casey provided an extremely engaging presentation on Productivity Suites and Presentation Tools. While diving through their provided readings for the week, I found many similarities between the author’s findings and my own experiences. While discussing the effectiveness of interactive whiteboards, Miller, Glover, and Averis write “it is also clear that neither of these add to teaching effectiveness unless they are supported by teachers who understand the nature of interactivity as a teaching and learning process and who integrate the technology to ensure lessons that are both cohesive and conceptually stimulating.” Within my classrooms, I find that technology is such a regular part of students life, that is no longer engaging on it’s own. It takes teachers to properly design lessons in an effort to engage students, something technology can certainly aide, but can not do alone. When not designed properly technology has the potential to distract students from the lesson content, just as easily as it can engage them (and just as easily as it can distract me!)

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One thought on “Week 6: Does Connectivity always lead to Productivity?

  1. Great post Colton – I really liked your take on technology in our students lives and the fact that it is no longer a novel thing resulting in teachers having to create a more engaging lesson for students to use their tech. This is the main reason that I struggle to utilize tech…. I find it extremely overwhelming and time consuming to pursue this avenue to utilize in my classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

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