I’m currently in the middle of reading “Grown Up Digital” by Don Tapscott. I put it on my reading list after seeing a blog reference from @coolcatteacher a few weeks ago. So far, I’m only on page 87, but already it’s been a tough book to put down.
What I find most fascinating about Tapscott’s narrative is that I can see faces in his descriptions of the ubiquitous nature of technology use in our everyday lives. I see my immigrant parents learning how to use Gmail and Facebook to connect with my relatives overseas. I see my twenty-something sister, or my life-long best friend from Jersey, constantly texting on their smartphones in the middle of dinner. I see my fifteen-year-old brother, who moves with fluid ease in between playing an online game with 3 other players, chatting on Skype with friends from the East Coast, and uploading cheat-sheet videos and animations on his YouTube channel all at the same time.
Strange as it might sound, I never really stopped to think about how technology affects my own life. I know that I use it and I incorporate it in my studies and teaching methods, but I have mostly viewed it as a separate entity. Before reading Tapscott’s book, I would not have considered myself as a “digital native”. I think part of that stems from my self-perspective; I consider myself at the low end of the technology-savvy spectrum, especially since I have tons of friends who can hack, code, and are way more involved with tech-gadgets. So I was pretty surprised when I found out while reading that I am considered part of the NetGen generation, to whom “technology is like air.” Was my lack of curiosity on my own technology use a result of having taken it for granted, like breathing? What does my real technology diet look like? I decided to perform a small experiment. For five days, I kept informal records of my technology use:
|8:30-10:30am||Headed to the gym with iTouch, book and water bottle. Listed to workout playlists, tracked calories burned and miles ran on treadmill on Daily Tracker app. Referred to notes on workout regime.|
|11:00am||Called best friend in Nevada with Bluetooth/cellphone.|
|3:00pm||Rebooted netbook. Logged onto iGoogle and accessed Gmail. Read labeled messages first, starred important messages or subscriptions for more thorough reading later. Cleared inbox to zero. Pulled up Pandora for background muzak. Double-checked order status for a textbook on Amazon. Wrote brief feedback and recommendations on sellers and previously purchased items.|
|3:30pm||Browsed through Google Reader/RSS feeds. Wrote some comments on blogs, shared favorite posts to Twitter and Facebook. Checked Google Alerts. Loaded Tweetdeck. RT’d and DM’d PLN friends.|
|5:00pm||Surfed through internet recipe sites for a seafood kebob marinade. Read Facebook statuses. Posted on Mom’s Facebook wall, and viewed cousin’s photo album of newborn baby. Chatted with an aunt in the Philippines for a few minutes.|
|6:00pm||Printed mail-wrapper for a Paperbackswap book. Used Google Maps for directions to an upcoming workshop. Clicked on satellite view to familiarize self with landmarks. Tweeted on iTouch in front of the TV during commercials.|
|11:30am||Warmed up Desktop PC. Went through email and RSS feeds routine. Compared product prices on Froogle and Bing search engines. Read product reviews. Purchased boyfriend’s birthday gifts from Amazon. Tweaked Diigo account’s auto blog post settings. Browsed through Google Alerts, bookmarked and annotated a few URLs.|
|12:00-1:00pm||Loaded Tweetdeck for Tuesday afternoon #edchat. Added a few people to Twitter PLN and cleared Twitter follower list from spammers. Read and posted in Q/A section on LinkedIn account. Sent LinkedIn invites to HS classmates and Twitter PLN members.|
|1:30pm||Double-checked new summer class schedule, building room number and textbook ISBNs. Sent an Evernote memo on PC, which synced to iTouch. Jetted for class!|
|7pm||Browsed through Twitter on iTouch’s Tweetdeck. Printed wrapper for a Paperbackswap requested book. Listened to slow-song playlist while reading school work.|
|10:00am||Charged netbook. Paid bills online. Updated my spreadsheet on monthly financial spending. Streamed music and browsed iTunes for new songs and podcast updates. Looked at different streaming music websites.|
|11:00am||Frustrated that I forgot to DVR Glee again. Complained on Twitter. Got Hulu recommendations from @atomicclint and @wmchamberlain. Watched the last two episodes of Glee online. Signed onto Facebook, read friends’ status updates, and chatted with sister through Facebook chat. Watched sister’s uploaded video of brother’s Confirmation.|
|11:30am||Surfed through Flickr contacts’ and Twitter 365PLN’s most recently uploaded pictures. Got ready for 4-hour certification workshop. Looked for textbooks and short-story novels on Google Books for an upcoming summer class; found 3 and saved money!|
|4:30pm||Played app games while on workshop break.|
|7:00-8:00pm||Loaded Tweetdeck for Wednesday evening #ntchat. Diigo-bookmarked shared resources. Cleared Gmail inbox.|
|8:30pm||Browsed through Edutopia groups. Responded to a Paperbackswap email, browsed through LinkedIN account and updated Facebook profile and privacy settings.|
|8:00-9:30am||Went through gym routine with playlist and Daily Tracker. Updated notes with new workout for next week.|
|11:00am||Went through Gmail, cleared inbox to zero. Streamed Pandora. Read through email teacher magazine subscriptions. Bookmarked a few articles. Added new educator blog feeds to Google Reader. Pulled up Tweetdeck, responded to DMs, RT’d and posted URLs.|
|12:30pm||Uploaded videos and pictures of son’s band/choir show from Wednesday night to PC. Experimented with Windows Movie Maker to create a mashup to share with family. Uploaded files to Flickr and Facebook, embedded video to personal family blog, and forwarded link to family members. Backed up photo files to external drive. Updated digital frame in the living room with recent family pictures.|
|1:30pm||Used Google Docs to brainstorm and draft blog post. Watched another Glee episode on Hulu. Scanned workshop certificates, sent digital copies to external drive. Downloaded Google mobile app before class.|
|7:30pm||Read through a few RSS feeds. Uploaded documents to Scribd and Slideshare. Updated wiki-portfolio.|
|8:30-10:30am||Completed normal gym routine with iTouch/Daily Tracker. Searched for stretches/yoga videos on YouTube.|
|11:00am||Cleared inbox to zero. Finalized reservations for Memorial Weekend trip to MaineGoogled travel resources and compiled short informal trip itinerary. Wrote packing list on Evernote.|
|3:00pm||Watched TED talks online, chatted with cousins through Facebook, and read through OLAS employment feeds.|
|4:00pm||Searched internet recipe sites for dinner ideas. Skyped with brother. Uploaded a family video to Vimeo. Diigo-bookmarked sites. Pulled Tweetdeck up, RT’d and posted URLs. Forwarded links to classmate. Shut down devices for weekend!|
While I didn’t think that I was glued to the computer or plugged into the matrix every second of the day, I was surprised that my technology use did span large chunks of time. It was also interesting to see how I had compartmentalized my technology use according to specific devices. In my head, I associated technology use with PCs or desktops. I didn’t think to include mobile access via the netbook, iTouch, or cellphone! Recording my technology diet for five days showed me that yes, indeed, technology was something I took for granted. It was something that I did without much thinking, like breathing air. As evidenced by my records, technology encompassed almost every aspect of my daily and professional lives: connecting with others, creating products, taking from and adding to the Internet knowledge-base.
Tapscott outlined 8 NetGen norms in the book, and it was interesting to note that my technology diet fit most of the descriptions.
I wanted freedom in my choices of products, in my music selections, and even in the way I read my emails. I customized my Google Reader with news, blogs, and other topics that interested me and were pertinent to my professional development. I scrutinized companies, and looked for corporate integrity and openess when I read Amazon reviews on products, ran searches to compare the lowest prices available for a used textbook, or read mission statements and school reports from various school districts during my job search. I relied on apps, streaming music sites, RSS feeds, and online video services to entertain and play. I also collaborated and built and maintained relationships with family and friends by sharing video mashups, uploading Flickr photo galleries, and chatting with distant relatives in different time zones via Skype, Google Talk, and Facebook Chat. I was doing these things in my daily interactions, and I wasn’t even aware of it!
Imagine how different things today could be if educators were aware of just how much technology affected their own lives. Shelly Blake-Plock (@teachpaperless) recently shared a student’s reflection on paperless-ness on his blog. As she wrote, there are no excuses for technology integration NOT to be in the classroom. If we were all aware of how we use technology today, how it shapes us consciously and subconsciously, and how the 8 NetGen norms fit in this net-scape… we’d be teaching and learning in the 21st century by now.
What’s your technology diet like?
“Screen Technology” by Rutty
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