Distracted Learning and Why You Should Put Down Your Phone
“Where does a giver go to get? Where does a filler go to be filled?” — Mac
Let that quote sit with you for a minute. Does it resonate? Most of you probably don’t know “Mac”, but if you ever have an opportunity to attend a PE Institute in Asheville, you will. The quote above is one of many “Mac-isms” and one I actually didn’t hear at #PEInstitute16 this year. However, the other night when I was camping on the Oregon Coast, I heard my friend Joey Feith say it and it was the push I needed to write this blog post. If you have no idea how this is even relates to your cell phone yet, stay with me for a minute and let me explain.
Where does a filler go to be filled?
It was a long time coming, but I think I came to the realization about 6 months ago. You see, I have been presenting sessions at conferences, facilitating the #PhysEdSummit, facilitating PD in my own district and trying to teach full time all at the same time. It kind of snuck up on me one day when I asked myself the question, “When is the last time that I learned anything?” This certainly was not a moment of self-righteousness, rather an admission that while spending all this time trying to give back to the profession and facilitate the learning needs of others, I had neglected my own learning. It’s frightening to admit this, but it has forced me to be intentional about being a little bit more selfish with how I connect, consume and network. It has forced me to consider sharing less so that I can grow more.
Where does a giver go to get?
Pokemon Go is absolutely addicting. It’s fun and it’s challenging. Consider it a bonus that it gets us outside and moving at the same time. However, it is amusing to see groups of people walking around town, the airport, on campus, and the zoo with their heads buried in their phone trying to catch a pikachu or battle at a gym. The person’s phone has captured their attention and focus completely. While they are highly active within the game, they have become completely passive to the world that is around them.
The point is, with the push our #PhysEd profession has made to “get connected” we are starting to see unintended consequences. Social media has evolved where it is truly instant (Periscope, Snapchat, Facebook live, etc.) and it is very enticing to live in the moment like this. I see it at conferences now where many attendees are simply sharing what is happening during the session to a greater audience at the sacrifice of their own participation. I have been equally as guilty of this. Whether it be tweeting or periscoping, in our quest to share the latest and greatest with our PLN and the #PhysEd community, we don’t even realizing what is happening in real time. We are giving…but, are we getting? Sure, we can pick up on sound bytes from keynote speakers or feel the energy that exists in the space that we are in, but are we learning anything? If I am honest with myself, I am not learning when I make the choice to give instead of get. We can either share or we can learn. I’m not buying the notion that we can do both at the same time.
How do adults learn best? Not by passively attending a break out session at a conference and choosing to actively engage with social media instead. This is distracted learning and ask yourself afterwards how much you remember from the session? It would be like attending a session during the #PhysEdSummit and instead of participating in the Tozzl, I just used Periscope to stream my computer screen. At the PE Institute this year, the keynotes were live streamed. Despite this, I am certain that some people streamed the keynote via Periscope as well. The question is, why?
I don’t mean to belabor the point, but next time we are faced with the question of sharing or learning, I think we should pause for a minute and consider it carefully. Recently, I have become a huge fan of the Netflix series Stranger Things. Mostly for the nostalgia of having been an 80’s kid, but there is something else about it. The main characters do not have the technology that we possess today, so they are forced to actively engage, problem solve and learn in their world as they experience it, not just share what is happening around them with the rest of the world. As educators, I encourage us to do the same with our professional learning. Put down your phone for an hour and bring learning back. Then, take a moment to share what you learned with the rest of us.