Is technology hijacking you?

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The link I am about to provide will take you to an article  by Tristan Harris who was a product philosopher at Google until 2016 where he studied how technology affects a billion people’s attention, wellbeing and behaviour. He discusses in a reasoned way the techniques used to manipulate you into staying  hooked on technology and complying with its needs and wants. At the end he tells you there are thousands of ways. You know some of them: notifications, likes, emails demanding your attention, infinite feeds, things you have to share. Ultimately,  you have to work out what you are prepared to do and what you are prepared to accept as a free agent. That is something you have to learn when you are dealing with technology. It is there for you . It is not there to run your life and your thoughts. By starting with an article like this you will begin to put together the thoughts you already have about this. You are not a victim of technology. You can master it but you cannot master if it you are not familiar with the ways it tries to shape your life  and thinking because you are made to feel like you are an important part of information sharing. The article serves as a starting point for you to be able to determine exactly what you want from technology and where your boundaries will be.

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

It’s simple. It’s easy . It’s fun.

There are still people who are worried about technology and find it intimidating. There are still people who can do what they do but then worry when they have to do something new with technology. Basically, it’s what Kerwin Rae says – it’s simple, easy and fun! That has to be your attitude.

1. Be clear about what you want to achieve.

What so you want to do with technology? What can’t you do that you want to do? What do you want to do better? How do you want things to look and sound?

2. Use technology.

Stating the obvious. You can be apprehensive about doing something. You might think you will mess things up and you might think you will get it wrong. That is all negative self talk.

Be confident. Do what you want to do and ask about the bits you can’t quite get. There is a lot to learn with progressive disclosure which hides information until it thinks you need it but that might stop you from realising how things work. There is a lot to learn with swiping and gesturing. Do it a bit at a time but just use your devices. Use them to look and learn, use them to create images and videos. Use them to make sound recordings, shopping lists, plans, record ideas. Using technology means you will become more familar with how it works. Once in a while doesn’t get those learning patterns in place.

3. Share and get help.

If you know how to do something, share it. If you don’t know how to do something – ask. Look it up online. Just google it. If you have worked out how to do something , share it. Tell others, tell Facebook, tell Twitter, use a blog to share your discoveries, make a quick video .The internet works well because everyone is sharing what they have discovered and learned. You can look just about anything up on a search engine or YouTube and get help .

4. Look upon it as a challenge.

When it is not going according to plan, leave the device and go and do something else. Nothing will change and nothing will break. You need processing time. You might need to talk to someone and get help or you might need thinking time. Pushing yourself through on a device when you are unclear as to your own procedures will not help you. Figuring it out for yourself is a challenge because you can do it. You might just think you cannot and then you’ll just give up and do something you already know how to do. Learning is a challenge. It is also having confidence in yourself to know you can work it out.

5. Think .

Technology is about using your brain differently and you have to be fluid in your thoughts. You have to think and do and then process ahead and be aware there are next steps. You have to look at the whole screen. You have to examine all the menus and options. Sometimes you have to translate the text instructions to your own way of saying things. “DONE” on a button doesn’t always mean to someone that they need to click that to finish a procedure. They don’t know what it means. Labelling can be very tricky because it is designed for an age group and a certain linguistic level of expression. When if has click or tap to finish then everyone understands that. Ditto tabs in browsers. Some people have no idea there are tabs. They can see x’s along the top and think that means they should’t touch it. To some people x means stop it does not mean close.

6. Learn every day.

Using technology

Using technology

Think – it’s all in the preparation
Connect – use technology to talk with your audience
Know – know your audience and your subject matter
Understand – do you know what they need and what they are looking for?
Convince – what you are teaching is beneficial to them.
Conclude – tie up the loose ends, connect the dots, join up information
Hold something back – leave the lesson with the next logical step ready to be learnt

We have some good choices in technology now so it is important to think out what you want to use and how. Yesterday I split the whiteboard screen to show a doc on one side and then use the interactive whiteboard on the other side. We then went to practising what we had done using a flashcard programme on the whiteboard which had sound as well. From there to a new programme we are learning so we can animate our next assignment. These students like active, like big visuals and they like a gaming approach. They will work hard and learn the content if I offer it to them in a way which really enables them. My year 11s and 12s had a surprise the other day. My Year 11s had to do an exam. So I had set that up. At the same time I was required to teach the year 12s. I could have sent them else where or told them they were to work silently for 2 hours. They are, after all , Year 12s. I thought about it. We have missed lessons for various reasons. Their year is a short one and the tasks are demanding. I told the year 12s there were two assignments we were going to get organised in that 2 hours. I had the Year 11s up and running with their exam. I had my laptop where I could see them and the time. Every 15 minutes I got up to supervise. Every 30 minutes I announced the passing of time. In between my year 12s and I wrote little notes to each other so I could help them and they messaged me rough copies of their work over the learner management system. With more students I could not have done that. With different students I could not have done that. You look at your classes , your capabilities and your tools and you work out the maximum use of technology to achieve something for those students and yourself. Sitting watching students for 2 hours is a poor use of me and my capabilities. Making sure everyone’s needs are met in an educational context is a good use. My year 12s were amazed how much we achieved so it was a good lesson in focussed learning for them. My Year 11s were comfortable because they knew I was there and looking after them but I was not looking at them all the time. For my year 9s we have the animation story board to prepare on Monday, for my year 11s I have their exams to return with the learning they will now need very clear and the year 12s can ramp up and start their big oral assignment. Preparation is everything and content is king.

Using technology in the classroom

Since I first started blogging about using technology in a classroom we have blossomed and grown. We can do more, share more, connect more. We have access to a range of devices and connections are reliable. We have had a chance to experiment, trial, explore. So we need to reassess where we are and get the basics in place so we can further grow and develop. I used my own thoughts and then a basic business template to gather these ideas. They are not definitive. They are not the answer. They are my thoughts which I am sharing with you and then you can share and add your own. It’s just something to help move the conversations on. This post is a follow up to my previous post Read, watch , do. We need to stay focussed on what we are actually doing in the classroom and how we are implementing it and then the implementation strategies and dips.

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