Productivity by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

“Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?  Has the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it?”

Internet enhances productivity and connectivity.

Pound for pound, we are exposed to more information and ideas than any point in human history. The internet and wireless connectivity is to thank for this. Can it be overwhelming? Undoubtedly. Does it pose the potential of distraction? Certainly. But this glass half-empty nonsense fails to appreciate the depth of opportunity that the internet provides us with. Ultimately, it has the power to increase productivity. It makes us capable of accumulating a greater knowledge-base, organizing that content, requiring us to think critically about said knowledge-base, and network with others on the topic, be it independently (through MOOCs) or in the school setting.

How we as educators utilize this?

I love PowerPoint. While some evidence may dictate that PowerPoint in excess isn’t successful, I would question the parameters of the testing. I use PowerPoint as a organizational visual for a wide variety of instructional strategies. It can describe to students how to do a reading strategy for an article, it can incorporate pictures into content, build foundations for Screencasting or flipped classrooms as well as provide steps for group or lab work. I can ask meaningful questions to the class but cater to the learner who might understand it better by reading the question… or collect and organize information from students and provide copies to those that have missed. The program, and others like it, all serve this purpose and, when used appropriately and alongside YouTube and search engines, enhance instruction and outcome achievement in students.

In a Science 9 classroom, I have the opportunity to feed inquiry and answer the questions of my students right before their eyes. I don’t simply provide an answer, but also show them how learning can grow and extend into new learning as I ask new questions to allow the pursuit of knowledge to grow. And I keep the tabs open to show how we went from one idea to the next. Ex. Mitosis -important parts of what’s copied?-> Nucleus -contains information, as what?-> DNA – there’s something similar to DNA?-> RNA – what has RNA in it?-> Viruses -Example of virus?-> E. Bola –> can E. Bola affect us in SK?

That is what students learn in a classroom with PowerPoint and a visual of how their instructor utilizes the internet and wireless connectivity to learn… and it models proper use of devices that extend this learning to anywhere they are… or communication with experts, opinions and facts from around the world.

A friend shared this video on Facebook the other day (Holly shared a post about the School System by the same individual, Prince Ea), and the pro-tech and social media-using individual in me actually got rattled by the assumptions in this video. Prince Ea is very poetic and engaging individual but I feel his take on this is very much the negative side of the range of connectedness we have today. Literacy rates have increased substantially since the advent of increased global connectedness in the past fifty years, and while I believe he may feel we are more distracted, I would be inclined to disagree.

Reminded me of our discussion regarding how we commonly villainize changes, presentation media, the internet and we may fail to appreciate the “new normal” or “changing humanity”. Any thoughts? Are we really more disconnected now than ever or do our devices help us connect even better now than ever before?

– Logan Petlak