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?
Can I Really Take A Social Media Vacation? - Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
Airplane Mode - George Couros
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?