Tag Archives: connecting

Disconnecting … to Imagine New Ways of Connecting

During a recent web search, I came across the image below and something about it really caught my eye. Maybe it was because of all of the colors (I love colors!) or the way the data cables so clearly represented a woman but I think what really struck me was how the model was simultaneously so expressive yet seemingly weighted down.

“Connected” a self-portrait by Kasey McMahon. Photo by Kevin Rolly

The artwork and it’s name, “Connected,” prompted me to reflect on how tied down we become at times simply by being connected. With my last bit of vacation coming next week before the start of a new school year, the idea of cutting ties with technology for a little bit and being a little less “connected” sounds nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working with technology and typically spend most of the day on my computer connected with other educators, searching for global projects, learning from my Twitter PLN, and updating websites. Yet, sometimes it seems we’re so connected that we don’t converse with the people we’re with and we begin to alter our expectations of ourselves and others in interpersonal interactions. I know at times when I’m in the middle of conversing with someone I have found myself drawn towards my computer screen and the pop-ups telling me I have a new email. And when my phone beeps with a new text message, it can be surprisingly hard to ignore it, even thought I may be completely engaged out and about with friends or family.

I’m curious if our pressure to be connected is due to the concern about what we’ll lose/miss if we’re not online (e.g., emails, social media updates) or due to a literal need to be connected to do work, or because of a simple desire or idea that being digitally connected is an important and valued way of building and strengthening professional and personal relationships. Perhaps the pressure to connect is a result of all three factors and this is why, combined, they are challenging to overcome or put aside.

Still, I think it can helpful and refreshing to digitally disconnect at times during the year so that we can focus more on other connections and feel less tied to cords, outlets, and electronic devices. I’m excited next week to be traveling and to hopefully connect with some other environments and people, such as the sand under my toes at the beach, the fresh air of a summer walk, and the family I’ll see while on vacation. While I’m sure I’ll have to check email occasionally and won’t be able to resist skimming my Hootsuite streams, it will be nice to feel like I can or even should walk away from those sites and enjoy other types of connections.

I’m also excited to use the time when I’m less digitally connected to reflect more on being connected and on the technologies I use so frequently. By stepping away from them, I imagine they’ll be easier to examine. As my new summer book (Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer) suggests, by focusing less on on the specific digital connections  I have, I can give my brain time and space to make broader connections. I can allow myself to be more creative and think about new ways to use my connections in the coming school year and creative ideas about how technology does and can intersect with our daily lives.

What do other people think? Are we ever too digitally connected? Do you take time to disconnect simply so you can imagine new ways of connecting? 

My Insider Tips for Getting #ECETech Updates

 

This week during #ecetechchat, we’re planning to discuss and share where we get the inside scoop on the latest trends, tools, and reports on technology in early childhood education. In preparation for the chat, I thought I would take some time to record some of my “go-to” places I get news and learn about #ecetech resources online. To hear my favorite offline resources, join our chat on Wednesday night at 9pm EDT!

Social Media:

My top source of insider news almost always comes from one of my social networks. Every time I check Twitter, I learn something new and since I’m passionate about early childhood education and educational technology, many of the people in my PLN are also interested and tweeting about those topics. Not only do I learn more about resources I have heard of or tried before but I am constantly introduced to new websites, tools, and ways of integrating technology into the classroom by following current early childhood teachers, administrators, professors, and organizations using technology.

I think there are two key pieces to getting insider news from social media: broad networks and meaningful relationships.

Whether you’re “liking” Facebook pages, selecting Pinterest boards to follow, or joining new LinkedIn Groups, make sure you’re choosing networks that cover the entire range of your field of interest. Instead of just listening to one voice or perspective, try to find ways to hear what people in all areas of a field are discussing (e.g., developers, publishers, teachers, administrators, academics). This way you can both double-check your facts and hear new ways of thinking about or interpreting new tools, apps, and teaching approaches. But the work isn’t done after you’ve joined a bunch of groups. Next, you need to move to the relationship stage and begin really connecting with people in each group. Start responding to specific tweets that interest you or LinkedIn posts that make you think. By engaging in dialogue and sharing your own news and resources, you can create meaningful relationships through these networks that will not only help you to stay up-to-date about that latest #ecetech developments but will also help you to grow professionally as an educator and colleague.

Blogs:

Sometimes I’m looking for more in-depth information about a new tech tools, ways to use it in the classroom, or thoughts about whether specific technologies are appropriate for young children. That’s when I turn to my blogs. Sometimes I still use social media to learn about new posts but many times I just check my Google Reader to find out what bloggers are saying about technology in early childhood. Once again, I try to follow a mix of current teachers, developers (e.g., Kindertown’s Education Blog), and organizations. For example, I love learning from the #kinderchat teachers, many of whom blog frequently about their work with technology and global collaboration. I would recommend checking out their posts on #SkypePlay, iPad integration, Using ToonTastic, and Evernote e-portfolios to get an idea of what I mean. I also follow the Early Education Initiative, the Hatch Early Childhood Blog, and of course the Early Childhood Education Technology Network! To get the inside scoop, I look for blogs that are updated frequently with fresh content and thoughtful posts.

Websites:

I also check specific websites to learn about #ecetech news and events. A key one is the National Association for the Education of Young Children website, including their new website for families, since they recently released a new position statement on technology and set standards for the field. I also check the Erikson TEC Center and am excited for the ongoing development of that site as a technology resource for early educators. Similarly, I will look to Ele, created by the Fred Rogers Center, for new ideas about using technology. I have found a number of review sites are also a great resource to learn about new technologies: Mom’s with Apps, Free Tech for Teachers, CommonSense Media, and ICT Magic.

Where do you go to get the inside scoop on early childhood technology?