We all want tips to work smarter not harder, right? Well this essay offers four. I will say that I have used the pomodoro technique for several years and recommend it. Its amazing what 25 minutes of focus can do, with that 5 minutes on Facebook at the end (or whatever 5 minute distraction you prefer). If you want a great mooc which discusses the technique and the brain functioning behind it I do recommend this one from Oakley and Sejnowksi. They have a lot of down to earth recommendations on learning backed up with the scientific reasoning why certain they work. I think they would disagree with point 3 in the essay. Though their work around would be look at your to do list for tomorrow before you goto bed. You then incorporate all that planning into your sleep and will be more focused in the morning.
I came across this short article recapping a survey on faculty views of technology. The original article is here. And I’ll admit I was a little surprised. Most faculty were highly positive on tech in education, on tech making their job easier, on tech positively effecting their teaching, and on tech positively effecting their students learning. They don’t list how they recruited people for the survey, but my guess is people who read the magazine which might skew the results a bit. In looking at how tech savvy the respondents self report, my guess is that its the higher end tech instructors. But results like this make me hopeful.
Of course then we come across PEW studies. I like the idea and definition of “digital readiness” from this study. And if we look at their results, less than 50% (48% actually) fall into the category of relative digital preparedness. So this is something we still need to consider with faculty and with students. If we look at the appendix and the breakdown based on race, it is something we need to account for in education as well. Digital readiness is much much higher if you are white. How do we move all people to the “digital ready” stage? Or perhaps a more modest proposal is, how do we move everyone up one stage? I’m sure its through advising, and scaffolding, and outreach. And we need to build these into our teaching to help all students move through these categories to become digitally, and thereby academically successful.
The final thing I want to talk about is a symposium I attended at the University of Illinois on Friday. It was about learning spaces. The keynote speaker was Rex Miller. He gave a very good talk, though in looking at his website a futurist might want some posts from 2016? I think two things I found interesting about his presentation were more packaging of ideas I was familiar with. The first was thinking about the world as a Gutenberg or Google world. One is a print world, the other is a digital world. So how do you teach in a print versus a digital world? Is the idea that it is more important to know the first five US presidents or to be able to find them? Memorization is one world view, finding them on your cell phone is another. So while its not a “new” idea for mindsets, its a useful shortcut for thinking about it. The other thing he discussed which I found useful was the idea of the 27th day. So this relates to the idea of asking whether you would like a million dollars today or to double a penny every day (1 c, 2c, 4c, 8c, 16c…) for a month. And at the 27th day you’re at $620,000 while at the 28th day you hit $1.2 million. He used this to describe businesses like Kodak who developed digital photography, but doubled down on film. They were at the 27th day and didn’t make the switch which led to their demise. So he frames the educational world at a 27th day point, do we continue in a Gutenberg framework or switch to Google? Yes they’re over simplifications, but if the goal is moving people toward a digital future, and future oriented teaching, I think they are useful for making a point.