Tag Archives: 2012

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? 

Some Tech Goals for 2012

Last week, I wrote some reflections on 2011 and after looking back on the past year, I decided it would be good to also think about 2012 and some of the tech goals I hope to accomplish.

The first one is to keep up with this blog and to start adding more pictures to my posts! I think I got a good start with this goal in my last post. 🙂

I want to learn more about coding this year. I was excited to discover the free Javascript coding lessons at Codeacademy. I recently finished their “Getting Started with Programming” course and until they release new lessons, I plan to start exploring Ruby.

Another tool I’ve been exploring and want to begin using more frequently is Google Reader. Now that I’m posting here and reading so many new blogs, I realized I needed a way to easily organize them and stay up-to-date on new posts. I’m still trying to decide how I want to arrange my folders and I also hope to look into creating “bundles” and see how they might be valuable for sharing blog resources.

After recently receiving an invite, I just started to poke around on Pinterest and I would like to explore the site more. I want to think more deeply about how I can use the site in a meaningful and productive way to organize and share resources with other educators. I currently only have 18 pins on 6 boards but as I search around the site, I’m beginning to find some really great resources from other users. I think there are some really exciting possibilities for sharing with the site, especially since you can allow other users to add pins to your boards. I could see this turning a board like “Great #ECE Blogs” into a goldmine.

Wikis are also on my list of goals for 2012 because I plan to create at least one wiki for my master’s program this year for a weekend course I’m teaching in the spring on Technology as a Global Learning Tool. I have only used wikis intermittently over the past few years and I want to grow more comfortable with using and designing them so that the participants of the course can co-create one with me. I hope it will serve as an ongoing resource and community space for us to think about #globaled, #ICT4D, #development, #edtech and ways to use technology in meaningful ways in the U.S. and abroad.

One other fairly new tool/site that is on my list is Google+. I have played around on the site, creating my own page and a page for my master’s program but I haven’t seen a lot of interaction there and honestly have struggled to find time to be active there as well as all of the other networks I participate in and sites I run. I hope to continue exploring Google+ in 2012 and testing out some more of the resources the site offers, like Hangouts, as well as finding ways to use Pages for inbound marketing.

Finally, an ongoing goal of mine is to stay active in my existing social media networks and in close communication with my PLN so that together, we can continue learning and teaching about issues in (early childhood) education, resources for teachers, ideas for using social media and new technologies, and ways to connect people around the globe!