I found the video “Connected: But Alone?”, a TED Talk by Sherry Turkle very interesting. I hadn’t really thought about how texting breaks everything into small pieces and, usually, isn’t real in-depth communication. She had a lot of interesting points to make.

I know my students would often rather be on their phones on Snapchat and Twitter to find out their news instead of talking to each other. What is happening on their phones is more important that talking to the person next to them the are already talking to.

I go to meetings with parents and administration and , so often, different members of the meeting are on their phones, replying to emails, or doing something else. When did the online world become more immediate that interacting with the people you are with?

The picture of her daughter and friends is one I see so often. At a restaurant, in groups of friends who have gotten together, you see everyone on their phones instead of interacting with each other. Her repeated refrain of I don’t feel like anyone is listening to me is becoming more and more real all the time.

The need people feel to have human interactions with technology is sad. The technology is replacing talking with others and empathy with others. The story of the old lady in the nursing home talking to an empathetic robot seal was very sad. It’s amazing that there is no one who could find time in their day to listen to her.

Turkle’s feeling is that it is safer to rely on technology because social media gives us instant listeners and makes us feel that we are not alone. Friends and followers on social media replace people you truly get to know. She says this really teaches loneliness because they don’t know how to reflect and be on their own. Turkle feels we need to be more aware of how we are using devices and how we are communicating with each other. When we are with others we need to put down devices and listen and talk to each other.

I love looking through Facebook, it helps me keep up with people I would otherwise lose touch with. I enjoy seeing pictures of families and seeing articles that others post. I could do with a little less food, but since I hate to cook, that’s to be expected. IM is a great way to contact people that I have a specific question for. I also have a Twitter account. I had to join for a PD session and no longer know my password. I enjoy the articles and ideas that I see posted but don’t contribute. I may start to one day.

In class I’ve found many of my students enjoy being able to email me. They can ask me questions after school hours. Some will ask questions that they don’t want to ask in class. I comment a lot in google docs and slides on work they turn in. This gives them very specific feedback and, once they learned that I can always retrieve the comments, held them much more accountable in their work.

In my online classes I have daily discussion boards. I see a lot of growth in the way they communicate with each other and in the quality of the responses that they make. My students get better at explaining what problems they are having in an email. By the end of the year everyone did a great job of having a useful subject line. They understood when they actually needed to talk to me and did a good job of letting me know when they would be available so we could work through problems and answer.

My homebound students all have my cell phone number and know they can text me with questions and can change meetings based on health problems. They like being able to get an answer quickly. I also work with them on emailing their teachers of record for their classes so they sty in contact with their classes. I don’t know all the content areas when I have high school students and I need the to get help from the experts. I’ve shown teachers how to comment on paper work that’s been turned in and use CamScan to email the comments back to the students.

I’ve helped teachers set up google docs so these students can continue to work in groups with their classmates. The introduction of chats while they are working at the same time and comments when they aren’t has helped these students feel connected to their classes when they can’t physically be there.

I feel that technology has advanced classroom communication. I hear from students through digital means that I might never hear speak in class. I can write down comments that they refer back to so they can improve their work. Are phones a problem in the brick and mortar classroom? Yes! Slowly my students are also learning to use those phones as tools and to do their work before checking their online followers and friends. I hope these are skills they will keep and use later in school and work. I’m sure as online communication methods grow classroom use will change and adapt.

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