This month is Connected Educator month (among other things, most yummy… Panini month). While reflecting on this observance, I found it interesting that as a Connected Educator, I sometimes feel like I have my head in the clouds, which is almost exactly where it should be.
This past year, I registered for so many online accounts (YouTube, Twitter, Flicker, Google+, WordPress, etc.) that I often have trouble keeping them straight, let alone the passwords, as we recently witnessed. I also have trouble keeping these services straight from those used exclusively for my school (iTunes U, Schoology, EasyBib, Turnitin.com, and our SIS system). I really want to use all these sites and services to their fullest, but sometimes it’s too much.
This summer I received a bit of anxiety from being TOO connected. I’m currently finishing my doctoral thesis, which undoubtedly adds stress, but as more of my work requires time in front of a screen, I’ve become more agitated. I know I’ve read studies about connectedness to devices adding stress, and I’ve reached my tipping point. As part of Connected Educator Month, I vow to stay connected to resources online but also stay connected to reality. This means reading real books and magazines, spending time with my family, and devoting Sunday as “No-Devices Day.”
My experiences with electronic anxiety (a term I’ll take credit for coining, but it probably exists already) have led me to two concerning ideas.
- What will happen to teachers who struggle with technology once the push for greater connectedness arises? Will teachers, too, reach a tipping-point? This needs to be addressed in technology implementation plans and likely it hasn’t been addressed yet.
- What will happen to young kids (mine are 5, 3, and 1) when all their time is spent on a device? They will (hopefully) have access to all their educational content electronically, but this access will likely be on the same screen- or otherwise- that they watch movies and play games. How will educators address the potential rise in electronic anxiety among students?
I vow to stay connected as an educator. I know the stress, which ebbs now, will eventually fade. However, I have found I adapt pretty easily to new situations, and I know others will have more trouble than I will. Not being connected is not a reality for our future, educational or otherwise. I also feel addressing electronic anxiety forthrightly is another necessity of the future. I hope we continue to see progression in both as education becomes more connected.