The internet, a productivity tool or a distraction? This question could be debated with either side having rational, reasoned arguments and compelling evidence. Within education today, I would find it very difficult to do my job as efficiently without the internet, yet quite often find my self down the rabbit hole that James Hamblin MD spoke of in the video Single tasking is the new multitasking.
Multitasking has become the new norm at work and life in general. At work, I am 100% guilty of multitasking throughout the day; eating lunch, checking emails, answering the phone, planning, assisting with behviours, marking, etc. When at the lake, gone are the days of having a conversation around the campfire where the conversation leads to a question that no one is able to answer, without missing a beat, someone “Googles” it. I worry about what this might mean for future generations and their ability to wonder or problem solve when they are able to obtain information instantly. The internet allows a plethora of information to be present with a simple search in almost any location.
As I write this blog post, I have several tabs open, the majority to do with this class, however, there are some work related tabs as well as some social media tabs. Not only am I accessing the internet using my laptop, I have my phone near by for the occasional screen shot or text messaging opportunities. Is the internet to blame for this? Am I setting myself up for overload? Is this an unhealthy addiction? One search leading to another and another; information overload. In true fashion, I spent some time on YouTube and found this video from the Wall Street Journal that got me thinking about all sorts of things, especially the statement, “9-5 is out, 24/7 is in.” In our work world today, technology has made it so that we are always available. One thing in particular that came to mind, is at our leadership meetings, the superintendents created norms that were to be followed. One of the norms included no cell phones unless we were on a tech. break. It is so easy to quickly grab your phone to reply to a text message and next thing you know you are reading one of the many missed emails. The fact is, the internet is both productive and a distraction. I have spent countless hours being productive on the internet as well as feeling distracted by the tabs that I have open.
Raquel, Kelly, Allison, and Deidra got us thinking about Productivity suites and presentation tools, specifically G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Of interest was the point that was made stating that these tools were originally targeted for businesses yet they are now an everyday tool within the education world. In our break-out rooms we were able to share how each of these tools allows for collaboration (teachers and students), which in turn can drive productivity.
How Google Took Over the Classroom states that there has been a major shift: the Googlification of the classroom. “Google is helping to drive a philosophical change in public education — prioritizing training children in skills like teamwork and problem-solving while de-emphasizing the teaching of traditional academic knowledge, like math formulas” (Singer, 2017). One may say that it would be hard to imagine what education would be like without the cutting edge technology to help students learn and grow, yet, many of us in this class have lived through elementary school without it and still attained many problem-solving skills albeit in a different manner. It is one thing for adults to be affected by multitasking but it is a whole other thing for children. Having balance is more important now than ever. We must understand the impacts of multitasking in order to make the best choices.
“For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage”.Neil Postman
This quote reminds us that this is exactly the case for technology vs. productivity. We reviewed the positives and negatives that come with new technologies with productivity suites and presentation tools such as Microsoft Power Point, Google Slides, Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace that allow us to achieve levels of productivity that seemed impossible even in years prior. While there are benefits with this technology, distraction also plays a huge part. It is our responsibility to use the tools effectively and with purpose. As educators it is our responsibility to teach students how to effectively use these tools as well. As time progresses so will technology, it is our responsibility to be in control.