Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Distractions distractions: mindful (in)attention post 2

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This morning I got into the car on the way to work, planning to ignore email and twitter, to sit on my iPad that is NOT connected to 3G and get some work done reviewing academic articles I am meant to give feedback on.

Before leaving home, I downloaded my email and checked my twitter. Some follow up comments to the #techquity chat and ppl asking for the storify. Searched for the link to what Joe wrote and sent it to the ppl who asked (i think i got them all).

On the road, started reading the article, it was about a computer-based pedagogical approach to to teaching programming. Oh no! Two things i am supposed to know about. One that I love (teaching) and one that I almost hate (programming). Traumatic memories of late nights of debugging. I needed a break.

Remembered twitter showed Simon Ensor had a new post on goldfish so I thought, you know, Simon Ensor, thoughtful entertainment, must read. And since goldfish is the topic, it must be a continuation of convo w Tania and Alan and me, so that is must must read.

Went over. Loved it. You’ll love it too, esp if you’ve always wondered how to say smartphone in Latin. And then to think maybe we always had goldfish attention spans. Poor goldfish. Think of all the clichés we misuse every day. I’d like to do a #dailyconnect of silly clichés.

Like “sleeping like a baby” – seriously do people who say that even know how babies sleep? Granted, not all the same. But for the most part, babies sleep with difficulty, wake up often, etc. Maybe they used to sleep well back in the time when everyone did sleep training and no one breastfed or practiced attachment parenting. Though you’d think that, historically, breastfeeding and attachment were like… Intuitive?

Anyway

So having been over to Simon’s, posted reply, tried to tweet it but 3G was in a bad mood. A sign to go back to the paper I was reading. Finished it. Remembered that I had loved pseudocode since high school. Remembered the flowchart i made for #clmooc on how to crete flowcharts and infinite loops. It was cool.

Thought I would blog about it. I’m increasingly thinking that split-second decisions about what to do online have less to do w social media and more to do with us.

Sure, notifications n things can distract. But so can husband calling to say he”s on his way home 30 mins before twitter chat starts, and would i be able to make dinner or should he bring KFC? (It’s not really a question there but i could have pretended). Distraction comes in the form of my baby waking up TWICE in the span of the one-hour twitter chat. This has not been her norm for over a year, but she slept on the way home and waking up finding herself in bed wearing same clothes, probably not comfy.

So but what makes me leave one thing and go to another? There’s a process there.

Who
Some people’s blogposts you gotta read or at least look at. They get priority. They’re not the same people every week, because it does depend on what we”re doing together on a given time period.

What
Some days my priority is a particular topic or type of thing. It does not always meet my explicit learning goals, but i get attracted to it anyway.

How long
And this is why blogs trump books any time, because they take less time. I can read 10 blogposts and start 4 conversations w their writers in the same time it takes to read one chapter or academic article . Believe me, if you pick which bloggers you read, you can learn more that way. And I do NOT mean people who blog in academic language (they’re almost as time-consuming to read as academic article; almost but not quite, so I enjoy reading them too). Of course, some academic articles give more return on investment than others (hate to use ROI terminology but it works here).

Now or later?
Thanks to AK, I now use pocket to save offline some stuff i want to “read later” and not necessarily respond to. I usually get around to reading that stuff. It helps a lot when my internet is down, too. Had not happened for a while but yday was not great and the coming 3 days i have the OLC conference (#aln14) so need the internet to work dammit!

What’s hottest, what’s urgent?
For now, what is urgent is the #aln14 conference once it starts. And in my f2f it’s my class’s twitter scavenger hunt activity then the #tvsz game. And also some stuff related to blended learning at my institution but that’s a lot of ppl working on it. Work kind of takes care of itself with meetings and seeing people f2f getting you to ‘get on with things” whereas online you need to be more mindful, but not because online is more distracting… Because online you have more control!

Think about it

F2f, you often end up going with the flow of things. Particularly when you are a parent or teacher. You often just have to respond. Planning is all well and good but life is messy.

Am i in denial?

More later

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