Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

You’re not “addicted” to tech and why it’s dangerous to say you are

As a teacher from 2001-2006 and then from 2008-2012, I had the chance to work with dozens of young people and their parents at a time when so much we knew and thought about education and transmitting information was changing. There was a rapid cultural shift in that decade that was primarily driven by “technology” and the internet.

One theme that remained constant going back to the first time we set up a class blog in 2003 was the notion of “tech addiction”. It remained a constant question and concern of parents and education colleagues (particularly my administrators) over the years.

Since 2012 as a marketing and tech consultant primarily working with religious orgs, nonprofits, and community groups, I’ve encountered the same concerns about tech addiction and young people. From MySpace to Instant Messaging to World of Warcraft to Instagram to Facebook to Fortnite, the boogeyman of evil tech hellbent on ruining our children’s minds and attention and willingness to go outside and play stickball keeps a constant current over time.

However, tech addiction (in the mainstream cultural sense) is just that… a boogeyman. It’s much better to focus on our responsibilities and usage patterns… as adults and parents and community members… rather than blaming Zuckerberg for our lack of accepting personal agency and being responsible people with our choices.

Good piece here that says all this in a much nicer and more approachable way:

Nir says the idea that technology is “hijacking your brain” or that the general population is “addicted” to their phones is rubbish.“Yes, there’s a very small percentage of people that very much are addicted—which is a completely different conversation—but this ‘addiction to technology’ is not the generalized disorder the media and others would have you think it is.”

Source: You’re not “addicted” to tech (and why it’s dangerous to say so) – RescueTime




“Still discovering new things”

golden_record_cover

On board each Voyager is a golden record — and record player — that is built to last one billion years or more and contains key information about humanity and life on planet Earth, in case of an alien encounter.

The sounds include the calls of humpback whales, the Chuck Berry song “Johnny B. Goode,” Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a Japanese shakuhachi (a type of flute), a Pygmy girls’ initiation song, and greetings in 55 languages.

via Forty years on, Voyager still hurtles through space




Dogfooding

After two happy years as a WordPress self-hosted install, I’m moving our 8th grade science class site/home/hub, GriffinScience, to Blogger:

GriffinScience: “Because we’ll be using Blogger as a main platform of interaction with the 8th graders next year due to our school Google accounts making that a no-brainer, I’ve gone ahead and moved GriffinScience from a self-hosted WordPress install to Blogger.”

I don’t think the students will mind or notice much, and it does make a good deal of sense to eat my own dog food if I’m going to encourage students to make use of our school’s Google Apps accounts and use Blogger (or Google Sites) as their digital portfolio’s home (of course I don’t mind if they want to venture out into WordPress or Tumblr or Posterous land as well).

For some reason, this makes me sad in a “but I’m a real geek!” way. It’s not that Blogger isn’t a proper blogging engine or geeky enough site… but I’ve always encouraged folks to dive into code and make their own templates or sidebars. Those are possible in Blogger, but it’s a little too graphical and “easy” in my mind. I need to get over myself, clearly.

Nevertheless, here’s to another few good years of GriffinScience.




Engineering Creativity

So how do we as teachers cultivate and encourage creativity in a human existence that doesn’t require as many gigs of organic memory?

LRB · Jim Holt · Smarter, Happier, More Productive: “It’s not that the web is making us less intelligent; if anything, the evidence suggests it sharpens more cognitive skills than it dulls. It’s not that the web is making us less happy, although there are certainly those who, like Carr, feel enslaved by its rhythms and cheated by the quality of its pleasures. It’s that the web may be an enemy of creativity. Which is why Woody Allen might be wise in avoiding it altogether.”

Fascinating read.




Sweet Reader

One of my 8th Graders is blogging about dessert pictures she takes that remind her of books she reads (she’s an avid reader).

You should follow along…

Sweet Reader

Yes, it is awesome.




Headed to Apple Seminar at 1 to 1 iPad School

Four of us from Spartanburg Day School are headed to Savannah on Thursday/Friday to see how St. Andrew’s School is running their 1 to 1 iPad program…

Apple – Education Seminars & Events – Digital Learning Environments in Action!: “St. Andrew’s School is one of the only K through 12 independent schools that is currently implementing a 1 to 1 iPad program for all students, preK through 12, as part of their new digital learning environment. During your visit, you will see how iDiscover 21c has engaged students and allowed them to take more responsibility for their own learning. You will meet with faculty, students, and administrators who will discuss the planning stages, infrastructure changes, rollout, and the overall impact on student learning.”

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more reflections before and after the event as we process our next steps in (hopeful) iPad implementation (at least for Middle School or 8th graders).

Exciting times.




I’m Sure @Jangro Would Appreciate notes.pinboard.in

On my iPhone home-screen I now have a link to a “2 Do” file that is a Pinboard Note…

Pinboard Notes

Pinboard is the bookmarking service that fills the hole Delicious left in our hearts years ago by selling out and becoming too bloated.

However, Pinboard now has a notes function that allows for quick note jotting and has Markdown support.

Win.

I had kept my years-old “2Do.txt” file in Dropbox up to this point but for some reason this seems easier. We’ll see how it goes!




FlexBooks

Hadn’t run across this before, but I’m pretty excited about the possibilities here…

CK12.ORG – FlexBooks

Already incorporating some of this into our existing textsbook over on GriffinScience.




Why I’m Sticking with AT&T (and Glad to See BUMPzee Back)

My pal Scott Jangro had an amazing site in late ’06 and early ’07 called BUMPzee that I loved.

Basically, BUMPzee was an early hybrid of Delicious, Digg, and what would become the Facebook newsfeed. Scott and his team were a little ahead of the curve and the platform should have gone mainstream.

So, I’m glad to see BUMPzee back up and running as it allows for great conversations along the lines of this (my response to Scott’s question about staying on AT&T or jumping ship for Verizon for his new iPhone)…

Iphone 4: At&t Or Verizon? – Bumpzee: “I had the exact same thing happen with my 3GS and the mute button. It’s pretty annoying to be a teacher and not be able to mute your phone, btw.

However, beyond the concrete Faraday cage that is my school, I don’t have a problem with ATT. They actually have been improving things quite a bit here in the Western North Carolina region to the point that I get few interruptions in service. We don’t have 3G everywhere, but we chose to live in a pretty remote and non-metropolitan region of southern appalachia, so I can’t complain.

My contract was up on the 12th as well (how’s that for timing!). So, I went to the ATT store thinking I’d be treated like royalty for staying with them. Interestingly enough, the ATT stores here were all out of stock and playing catch up after the holidays. My 4 came in yesterday and it’s everything I imagined it would be.

So yeah… stay with ATT. The ability to browse the web while on a call has been a great feature (one I thought I would never use) and the wifi at airports or places like Starbucks is a great feature-add.

I think this has been a big learning opportunity for ATT as they continue to grow and scale their network, so hopefully the benefits will continue as some customers offload to Verizon. Truthfully, I think Verizon has behaved with too much hubris from their ‘Droid Does’ days to acting as if the iPhone is finally worthy of their great network.

The biggest plus out of all this is that iOS on Verizon will put a big dent in the Android market!”




Reality Shifts Aren’t Novelties

Fantastic post that answers many of the “iPad is a fad and has no place in our schools” critics…

TeachPaperless: Novelty, Huh?: “As for the specific case of the iPad, it’s hardly an ideal device if you are looking for a catch-all. I’m especially concerned about the closed nature of the system and the emphasis on sales at the app store and on iBooks. But it is a device that speaks to several of the important features of our time, most importantly: mobile and accessible instant Internet connectivity. And I would argue that to see the iPad as a fad is to miss the bigger picture: the iPad only exists within the context of a mobile-connected world. That mobile-connected world is not a novelty; that’s a paradigm and a reality.”

Go read the whole thing.