mixing and remixing to find a balance….
A recent New York Times article, “Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime,” has gotten me thinking a lot about the effects of constant, immediate access to media and information. As more and more people fill downtime by pulling out their smart phones to make a call, send a text, or check their e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook accounts, this habit of filling the gaps between activities is having an unexpected negative effect on our brains: “when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.”
As an educator at a school with a one-to-one laptop program, I see this as adding another layer to the discussion about the impact of ubiquitous digital access on teaching and learning. Multitasking, distraction, socialization, cognitive development – all issues to keep in mind as we continue to look for effective, even transformational, ways to harness the technologies of the 21st Century while not losing sight of the fact that balance is crucial.
I have come to realize that I am not a good delegator, or at least that delegating doesn’t come naturally to me. As I reflect on this, I don’t think it’s so much that I don’t trust others to do the job or think that I can do it better. It’s really more that I feel guilty to give someone else work that I could very well be doing myself.
Hmmm, I guess this is a leadership challenge that I’ll need to grapple with if I want to be a successful leader.
When my Head of School and Board asked me last year to do an evaluation of academic technology use at the school, I asked that we bring in an outside group to assess us because I’m just too close to it all to be objective. I was afraid I would only find what I was looking for, and I really see this as an opportunity to get useful feedback about our technology program.
Obviously, I’m hoping for a generally positive assessment of what we’re doing here, but I’m also looking forward to hearing what the we need to work on as a department and a school.
Last week the consultants from Independent Focus visited us to conduct focus groups and one-to-one interviews of students, faculty, administrators, and parents. It was an intense four days. I was impressed by the consultants’ thoughtful approach and thorough preparation.
While I did not have much time to debrief with them, it seems the primary concerns that came up are those I expected, those we regularly wrestle with: age appropriateness of the Middle School one-to-one laptop program, reliability of the Macintosh computers, appropriate/safe use, network speed, and user data backup. I’m curious to hear what else comes up.
To complete the first phase of the evaluation, the evaluators will conduct phone interviews with recent graduates to get their perspective as well. I’m hoping that this perspective will offer a rich source of new information.
The next phase will involve online surveys of the same constituent groups, but with a larger sampling and wider range of questions than the face-to-face meetings could include.
Once that is completed, the consultants will report back to the school sometime in the spring.