This is my first post after coming off a month hiatus from twitter and blogging. Did you know it is Connected Educator Month? Yes, the U.S. Dept. of Education has a whole month of online activities planned as well as a website full of resources. It has been about 4 years since I became a “connected educator” but, I have learned to make disconnecting a planned part of my practice. I really find value stepping away from “drinking from the fire hose” that is my twitter stream. Besides easing eye strain on my 40-something eye muscles, I find time to reflect on what I’ve learned from my talented pool of educators in my PLN.
I have written about reasons why I need to unplug, and I have even debated hyperconnectivity with colleagues like Meredith Stewart (great young teacher and writer so check out her blog) and others. I am always curious as to how others see the line between the virtual world (Web 2.0) and real world communities (Life 1.0)–or if they see one at all…
I was really interested in this recent NYTimes piece on unplugging titled Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device. This article goes beyond my need to find a little peace and time to process. The article focuses more on what may soon be considered mental illness:
The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.
I think this is pretty powerful stuff coming from the folks selling the stuff! Even more impressive is the recent creation of the Wisdom 2.0 conference. If you click on the about page you see this statement:
Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world. Our annual conference is February 21st – 24th, 2013.
I encourage you to check it out–while a relatively young conference, they have lined up some heavy-hitters from very different backgrounds (think Droid Army and The Force).
This is an inspiring and hopeful sign to me. As I work with hyper-connected teenagers at school and raise two at home, I try to stress the power of being present when we are in the same physical location. Neurobiologists tell us an interruption free zone necessary for attention, which is critical for retention of information (see Brain Rules #4). While there is so much power in connectivity, there has to be some time when phones or other devices are what I call “old people off” (power off), not set to silent/vibrate. I try to explain the benefits of being present to students rather than focus on the downsides of the technology (like possible addiction mentioned in the article). How do you encourage or cultivate the concept of and value of being present with your students?