Thinking about all-the-time access

I spent my afternoon in a 3 hour discussion of social media, education, and one-to-one laptop use – presentation given and facilitated by Scott McLeod, as part of my school’s workshop week.(He blogs at Dangerously Irrelevant, now added to my RSS feed along with a number of others.)

I was pleased to find that I had, in fact, read most of the major books he mentioned (though I’ve now put a bunch of them into our current book order, so other people can read them.) His list of recommended reading and viewing for us is here and includes a link to his PowerPoint.

I found a couple of things particularly interesting:

– The Internet Revolution video he showed us is a really great and specific summary of some of the changes that social media tools have brought to this generation of students. (My favorite fact: the computer in our cell phones is about as powerful as the computer that sent us to the Moon in the 60s.)

– There were three of us using our computers to take notes and do other things that deepened our understanding of the material. All of us are under 40. (Me, our new assistant in the library, and one of our grade deans.)

Me, I have a lovely set of notes, and I also got to add books to our book order on the fly. It’s a small thing, but it means it’s one less task I have to remember to do later, and it made for  a much more organic feel. (I also did a couple of quick terminology/technical term look-ups on the fly, for things that were somewhat unfamiliar to me.)

– It was my first workshop week with a personal laptop (and mine actually is personal: my school computer is a desktop for reasons I’m hoping to remove the necessity for this year, namely access to our cataloging software)

I’ve been a earlyish adopter of a lot of technology (not cutting edge, but on the early side of the broad adoption range for technologies I actually use). Two computers ago, I had a laptop, but wireless access was not widespread, so it was mostly useful for writing/taking notes in other place. The next computer was a desktop, and the current laptop, I’ve had since May. I’m amazed at how much it makes my life easier – and all the ways I hadn’t even really thought about.

I want to write more about them in future, but here’s a few:
– time and task management
– storing notes and having access to them anywhere.
– being able to store information in formats that work best for me. (I’m using a rather specific combo of programs.)

One thing I got to thinking about in the presentation (and a post for another time in any depth) is how we teach how to find the good stuff (however we define that) in a world of increasing demands for attention. I’ve been checking my various online spaces between the end of the day and an after-work meeting, and got linked to an interesting discussion of this by Elizabeth Bear, who is an author herself: see her blog for her link and some commentary. (I’m linking there rather than the original because I suspect her blog will get some interesting comments on it too.)


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