Turn off the Screen and Stay Awhile: Taking the Time to Think about Tech

Over the past year I have been reading a lot about screentime. While some of the 2010-era optimism around technology persists, most of of the headlines, texts and talks express concerns around putting children in front of screens to learn. As I sought to reflect on my reading (most of which, ahem, happened on a screen), I often thought of using this space, but after reading of the damaging impact of light emissions on my circadian rhythms I thought, better use that bullet journal.

I return to this space now with purpose and a hope to share what I have been reading, my takeaways and how I used these resources to structure our professional development theme for the year. Part of my work at Holderness is developing what we now call our “Symposium” theme. This single lens aims to focus our professional learning efforts in faculty meetings throughout the year. We culminate our learning with a three-day experience for our faculty in June–the Symposium. I will share more on our speakers and how we structured that time in the future. I will also share my reading list and thoughts on resources if you find yourself interested in taking a deeper dive into this theme.

Why this theme, at this moment? Here is where my journey into this topic started, and how we framed our inquiry.

The most recent history of Holderness was on published in 2004. It ends by describing the new and innovative “Faculty Laptop program.” The world has changed drastically in the past fifteen years. We have weathered or witnessed (depending on your perspective) the rise of MySpace, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The iPhone was released in 2007, the iPad in 2010. We have experimented with four different learning management systems including Wikipages, Moodle, Canvas and now OnCampus. The campus now has wifi. Our student handbooks now acknowledge a student’s virtual presence. 

In short, we have changed with the times, consistently trying to “catch up” with the technology and trying to understand the world in which we all operate. As the initial reading (the introduction from Joi Ito and Jeff Howe’s Whiplash) suggests we have worked to “survive our faster future”. The Holderness Symposium theme for this year allows us the space to take stock of our relationship with technology, our student’s relationships with technology and ultimately craft a philosophical position that helps us to engage new resources while also understanding the challenges we face in our  “faster world”.