Staying Connected

I really admire my 83-year-old father…for many reasons. But the one I am going to reference today is his willingness to embrace and keep up with the changing technology of our world. The farmhouse he grew up in in rural Kansas didn’t have electricity, and water for cooking and cleaning had to be hand pumped from the well. Fast forward to 2014. Dad uses the GPS in his car to get around to the estate sales he loves, he used his smart phone to text me pictures of my niece’s wedding this weekend and he spends hours reading e-books from the public library on the tablet he bought this summer. His latest adventure is Facebook. Look out world, here Dad comes!

However, one thing that hasn’t shifted in Dad’s mind concerns organization. His paradigm includes the importance of keeping things neat and orderly. Sounds like a great trait, right? The family finances are in neat folders in his desk and his socks are still arranged in neat rows in his dresser drawer. That desire for order extends into his electronic world also. When he receives notifications on his phone (updates, news alerts, notifications that a wireless network is available to join), he can’t rest until he assesses each one and deletes it. When I tried to explain to him that those alerts weren’t all that important and that he certainly didn’t need to fret about “clearing them out,” he just didn’t buy in. In his world, they were part of the work he needed to do before he could rest.

big_All_aboard_v3b-1412121018.jpg.pagespeed.ce.B91LrzdPXuMy point is this: We all move along accepting change and new technologies at different paces. We fit them into our paradigm of the world in ways that make sense to us. And so it should be. There are so much new social media and new technologies out there. If we embraced it all, we would be swamped.

The challenge and the opportunity is to be open to new ways of interacting, learning and connecting while holding on to our key values and finding the balance that works for us.

Here is an image that has stuck with me over the years…

At a PD session about 5 years ago, an ACPS teacher used a metaphor to explain her approach to social media tools like Twitter: Think of Twitter as this stream of constant communication. Just decide to stick a toe in and enjoy the result, whenever it works for you. It is not something that you need to keep up with. It will be there when you have the time and the energy to test out the waters again.

That feels right. Whether it is the newest educational tech tool, an online PD session, an educator blog, or a hashtag-driven conversation on Twitter, dip your toe in when you have the time. It is not a lifetime commitment, just a chance to learn and grow in a non-threatening, horizon-expanding medium. What you take away in a few minutes might end up in your classroom tomorrow. Like so much in life, it is not all or none. Here’s to finding the right balance!

Some places you might want to dip a toe…

Twitter Handle/ Hashtag
#CE14 Connected Educator Month
#flipclass Flipped Learning
@ddmeyer Dan Meyer http://blog.mrmeyer.cominteresting math problem solving
@edutopia/ @ASCD Edutopia/ ASCD
@edrethink John Spencer – a thoughtful, reflective educator
@coolcatteacher Vicki Davis
#ACPS@pammoran For the local “news”…

What blog, website, Twitterer, or platform do you recommend to reach out and sample the waters that are constantly flowing by in our connected world? Please add your ideas as a Comment below this post.

9 thoughts on “Staying Connected”

  1. Great article, Diane! I feel the need for a balance of technology and real life–both at school and home. I need time to process the events of the day, and I can’t do that trying to keep up with the L. A. Joneses. (Is this right?) Anyway, I AM open to a good idea–tech or otherwise–as well as anything that will make my job or my life easier. I recommend ‘Love, Teach’ on Facebook! This gal teaches 7th graders and has the best outlook on it all.

  2. I loved this article as well Diane! Just wanted to pass along a few folks that I enjoy following for education-related topics on Twitter:

    @E_Sheniger Eric Sheniger
    @lineburgm Mark Lineburg
    @colonelb David Britten
    @eduleadership Justin Baeder
    @danieldmccabe Dan McCabe
    @canyonsdave David S. Doty
    @TCMSPrincipal David Ellena

    I’m @Traceysaxon and I’d love to “see” what you think! Cheers!

  3. Diane, you are right…all the technology opportunities offered today is like water out of a firehose…It’s hard to know what to grab to enhance instruction, but with knowledgeable professionals like you, it makes it so much easier. We just need to include you and your expertise in our already great lesson plans….even if it is just a little! By the way, your Dad sounds like a really fun guy!

  4. It is amazing the development and change in technology in just one life time. I think about how in 1949 the first electric metal coffee pot was introduced, and how dramatically even that has changed. You can’t even walk into most businesses or houses with out bumping into a Keurig coffee maker or some similar contraption. Now ,if only, I had as much success teaching my in-laws how to send text messages as brewing a single, hot cup of coffee.

  5. As I read your article I thought back to the last 6 months with my own father. He has a love/hate relationship with all the “new” technology. Emailing was his big step into the tech world.

    Several months ago, he became ill while out of town at my niece’s rehearsal dinner. My father was able to watch the wedding via my sister’s Ipad with Facetime from the ICU.
    He is now the proud owner of his own Ipad and regularly Facetimes his great grandchildren.

    Sometimes it seems that all the new technology is overwhelming and it would be easier to “opt” out. But when selectively it can change and enhance lives .

    1. I just checked out PowToon which is # 46 on the top 100 list! Very cool. Allows you to make cartoons that you can share to YouTube!
      There is a free version that seems adequate!
      Bad News: The way I read the privacy policy, students are not allowed accounts if they are under 13. This would mean that you would need to create a class account and sign in for students to allow students to create animations.

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