Blog Archives

Time Optimisation

Sometimes when I read people’s blog I wonder how they possibly get time to do all they do. It seems they spend their days writing / reading blogs, watching youtube, commenting on discussion boards, twittering, skyping, etc. On the one hand I’m jealous, on the other I’m confused.

This blog doesn’t have a post everyday because it’s author simply doesn’t have the time. Neither does she…. shock, horror….. twitter on a regular basis for the same reason. Here’s a typical day –

  • Get up, and potter about apartment. This isn’t time-wasting, it’s a needed relaxation before the day starts. TV3s Ireland Am is on in the background, it gets channel-flicked to gmtv or the bbc at odd times.
  • Take 35 minutes to walk to work.
  • Work day is spent: giving classes, preparing for classes, doing student consultations, answering / sending emails, attending meetings with colleagues, marking student work.
  • A work day can end anytime between 4pm or 8pm depending on how busy a particular day is.
  • Talk 35 minutes to walk home from work.
  • Much of the evening is spent reading / writing as part of my phd research studies.
  • I need me time to pursue personal activities that have become a needed part of sanity e.g. going to the gym (once or twice a week) , reading for pleasure (next up is Sebastian Barry’s Secret Scripture), going to the theater / the NCH, etc.

Not much time is left for engaging is social internet activities. I can multi-task with the best of them, but ‘interruption’ social internet activities squeezed in to the above tasks can be interruptive to those tasks.

There’s a time and a place for everything. I’m happy to spend the time I spend in Facebook, I enjoy posting in here, I enjoy reading the blogs I follow. I know that there are other blogs I would like to follow but I have to prioritise.

I have my blogs and news pages routed to a reader to speed up access time to them. I have my preferred websites book marked on delicious to keep them within easy reach. I have other tools that speed up my internet life but I still find I haven’t the time to do all I like to do.

Such is life. Time needs to be prioritized, simple as that.

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Technology – distractions and interuptions

Tech gadgets offer us a lot of positive things.  Time saving and convenience stand out the most. Could you live without your mobile, your computer…………….  An interesting effect is these tools are also a big distraction, causing a significant amount of interruptions throughout any given day. Here’s a list –

  • The mobile phone – how many times do you walk into a coffee shop or restaurant and there’s at least one mobile on most tables?  Diners will interrupt their eating to take and make calls. You never hear a comment such as “can I put you on hold for 10 mins while I enjoy this delicious cappuccino”.
  • The ringing phone – what is it about a ringing phone that causes an impulse to drop everything to answer it? My brother has made an art out of refusing to be distracted by a ringing phone. Often, this stretches to being totally oblivious to the shrill. 10 minutes later he’s surprised to discover he’s had a missed call even though everyone else in the vicinity is far too aware of it.
  • The text messages – do text messages need to be read and answered the moment they come in? Probably not. Self test over the next week – see how long is a comfortable delay before you read and / or reply.
  • The email – I have 2 email accounts in my workplace. One is permanently open on the screen, with an icon in the tray to tell me about new messages. Yes, I interrupt my work when I see the envelop appearing.  The other is web-based so it logs itself out very quickly. Consequently it doesn’t cause interruptions in my workday to the same extent.
  • The facebook – social networking is a useful and interesting way to see who’s doing what, and particularly so for overseas friends I don’t see that often.  However, unlike my students on Bebo, I don’t find it an interruption in my life.
  • Twitter – this is the ultimate distraction.  A short time back I finally gave in and started tweeting. But I’m not sold on keeping up with the minute detail of someone else’s life. It’s too much. I know there are people permanently on the tweet, and how they make time for this is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong. I see the benefits, but it’s got huge potential to be distracting and it is a significant problem in this regards for some people.
  • Chatrooms – I went through a period a number of years back where having 3 chatrooms open at the same time was a regular occurrence. I learned some cognitive multi-tasking but then decided I should study for a second masters degree and the multi-chat rooms was just too distracting to concentrated study. Now, I have a much more balanced approach to chatting.
  • RSS and blog/news readers – there is a sheer convenience of having one site that literally holds all that you need to know from a multitude of sites of interest.  Unfortunately  I can find myself hitting the refresh button far too often – has x posted his blog for the day yet, did Y make it into the news sites, did Z make a comment on the latest controversy in the financial world, etc.

The internet full stop – it’s a truly wonderful distraction. How on earth did I possibly live without it? How would I live without it if I had to?  Internet addiction is on the rise, particularly in terms of people spending more time online than offline, and not being able to switch off. Is this something society should be concerned about, or is it something that’s a standard feature of modern 21st century life?

Yesterday’s social networking report – part 2

Seems like that survey published yesterday about our younger folk benefitting enormously from hanging out in cyberspace has got people talking. How about this list from Google?

The titles are particularly interesting. Here’re a few I like –

What are they all saying? In essence, the problem isn’t with the kids and their online explorations and discoveries, its with the parents.

It’s time to lay off the scaremongering and negativity. The online world is not full of predators and fraud scams. There is a lot of good in it and perhaps parents should join instead of criticising from the sidelines. Kids are more savvy than today’s over-protective parents give them credit for.

What does it mean for us educators? Freedom to do what we’ve suspected for a while now might actually work – go to where the kids are and work with them in their own space where they’re comfortable.

The report suggests that kids prefer to learn from their peers than from adults and parents. To me, it’s not the content of the learning that’s important here per se, it’s the mechanisms of learning we should focus on. What are peers doing to inspire each other to experiment with online tools and activities, how is the momentum created and sustained, what blocks are educators (inadvertently) putting in front of students that are not present in their online activities.

I’m not saying that education should move wholesale to the net. That would lose many of the benefits that face-to-face learning gives us. I am saying that the internet is a platform that many young students are comfortable in, so why not embrace it for teaching and learning purposes.