The technology balancing act

At the end of class last week, our discussion revolved around the idea that technology in a classroom was either a good or a bad thing. As we jostled with this issue, the last student to speak (sorry, I can’t remember your name)  proposed the idea that technology wasn’t the problem it was how it was utilized in a classroom setting that created issues.

The NPR article from this week had an professor, Jesse Stomel, who expressed similar sentiment.

“There may also be times, he says, that the phone or computer can be an in-class tool. “We can also ask students to use their devices in ways that help them and the rest of the class, looking up a confusing term, polling their friends on Facebook about a topic we’re discussing or taking collaborative notes in an open document.”

On the other hand, says Stommel, there may be times and places to shut it down, too: “We can ask students to close their laptops at particular moments, recognizing that it is useful to learn different things, at different times, in different ways.””

It is easy to say there can be times when technology is acting as a learning aid and times where is is distracting. What I see as a learning curve, as a first time TA this semester and a potential future professor, is finding the balance .

I’m curious what your experience, as students and educators, is on achieving this balance. Outside of testing environments, are there other situations where you limit technology? Alternatively, what are the ways in which you saw it as an aid in learning?

NPR Article:

Blogging…the running of the internet

Based on the readings from this week, creating a digital presence is one of the best ways to engage yourself and your audience with your materials whether it be research or coursework. One of the ways we’re practicing a well rounded digital presence this semester is through blogging.

If I’m being honest, blogging is not something that comes easy to me. As an entomology PhD student, most of my written communication about my own research is in passive voice, and that is far from engaging for a general audience. Considering my lack of experience, my plan for this semester is to treat blogging like running.

Image result for everything hurts and i'm dying gif

I have been an runner on and off for the better part of four years, and running for the first time or starting back after a break is always difficult and uncomfortable. It’s hard to know when to breathe and what pace works, but at some point, usually about a month into it, an internal flip switches. The discomfort gets replaced by a steady rhythm. There are still days where it’s difficult, but for the most part, it becomes a second nature.

I’m hoping that blogging will follow a similar pattern. The first few weeks might feel a bit shaky and strained. Finding my voice might feel a bit like finding a rhythm and building up strength, but at some point, I’m hoping for that internal switch.

By the end of the course, I want to take the practice of blogging about classroom topics and expand it into blogging about my own research. Building a foundation of digital engagement as a graduate student would hopefully provide for a smooth transition of digital engagement as a professor.