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Connectedness, Like Ice Cream, is Best Consumed in Moderation

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. - Chinese proverb


Like countless others, I have experienced a personal and professional rebirth as a result of connecting with other educators through a personal learning network (PLN). Connected educators frequently cite several key advantages of socially networked learning, including; personalization of learning, collaborative spirit, professional voice, global perspective, and most importantly, relationship building. 

However, like other activities that we find fulfilling and enjoyable, connecting with others digitally is best done in moderation. When I eat too much ice cream too fast, I get a vicious headache. Comparatively, there are times when unplugging from our social networks is not only appropriate, but essential to our face-to face relationships. Family dinners, walking our dogs with my wife, fishing, and exercising are examples of times when I go comfortably into “airplane mode”. 



Unplugging gives us the opportunity to connect with our loved ones, reflect on our experiences, appreciate our natural surroundings, and listen attentively to our inner voice. Striking a balance between connected and unconnected time is challenging, but the rewards can be substantial and everlasting. During this holiday season many of us who are heavily connected to social networks will be dedicating time to unplug and recommit to our face-to-face relationships.

How do you strike a balance between Facetime & face-to-face time?

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Airplane Mode - George Couros


photo credit: QuintanaRoo via photopin cc

Comments

Joy Kirr said…
Bob, I take my time off, for sure. What helps me is when I take a weekend TOTALLY unplugged and I come back to hardly anything new. Phew! It helps me think I haven't missed too much. I still, however, follow blogs like yours! :) I'll be taking off an entire two weeks for winter break - and I'm finally not nervous about it!! Thanks for posting about this - great reminder!
Robert Schuetz said…
Thanks Joy - great hearing from you! i will be leading a "virtual book talk" over break, but I will be disconnecting on the holidays. Happy holidays & enjoy your time with friends & family.
Jeffrey Melone said…
Hey Bob,

I completely agree with this. While I love all the technology that we have at our fingertips, both in our personal lives and at school, I think taking a step back every now and then is a great idea. Not only is it good to get away from being extremely connected all the time, but I also think that a lot of our society is either forgetting or never learned how to actually communicate face to face.

A lot of students don’t know what the proper etiquette is when dealing with their technological devices and other (real) people. Students don’t see any issues with asking me a question and rocking out to their favorite song while I answer that question. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out to lunch, and I’ve seen multiple kids sitting at the same table, all with their headphones in and their smartphones in their hands, and not a single word was ever said out loud (and the sad thing is, that is perfectly normal to them). People, not just kids, are getting to the point where they think life might not go on if they forget their phone.

How do we find a happy medium? Again, I’m all for technology and all the wonderful things it brings, but sometimes I feel like it’s a slippery slope. Maybe we need to start teaching a “communicating with real people in person” course?

Robert Schuetz said…
Thank you Jeff - for reading & commenting. I agree, relating to others respectfully & personably is becoming a lost art form. For me, connecting digitally breaks the ice for many of my face-to-face interactions. I enjoy conferences much more now that I have established relationships, most of them virtual, with so many of my PLN pals. The key, as you are suggesting, is the learning relationship. If we put that first, everything else falls into place. Thanks agan & happy holidays, Bob
Aaron Davis said…
Great point Robert. Not sure I manage it very well. However, one point to be made is that not all connections are digital. I think that the question that needs to be considered is that why we need 'disconnect'? I feel that the greater challenge is how do we better connect with all those in our lives, both face to face or Facetime. I mused myself on what it means when people don't see themselves as 'connected'. http://readwriterespond.com/?p=29 I think that just as there are many ways to learn, so to are there many ways to connect, and not all of them are digital I guess.

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