#thattech Week 3–WARNING: System overload, out of memory, shutting down…

I enjoyed reading John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s take on information overload in their book Born Digital.  Often times I think our experiences and environment make or break our life-long habits and coping skills (i.e. poor parental guidance, growing up in a large city, one’s lacking or desire to be a life-long learner, etc.).  This is not to say we cannot change as adults, but that it may take further time, practice and adjustment to adapt to our new environment as it changes.

Palfrey and Gasser note, “An individual’s ability to make adequate decisions heavily depends on the amount of information that person is exposed to.  Life experience suggests that more information increases the overall quality of decisions” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  As a Net Gener myself, I have made incredible leaps and bounds the more knowledgeable I’ve become and experiences I have acquired.  I don’t necessarily feel growing up in the digital era has made my life corrupt, but then again I don’t know any different.  I feel strongly we can become proficient at any task, whether it’s multi-tasking or managing information overload, given we practice with determination to improve our current skillset.  According to Palfrey and Gasser, “human and technical filtering of information is a…technique for fighting information overload, and it’s one that everyone uses to some extent” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  To streamline this process, we must practice good filtering to be successful in avoiding overload.

In my primary and secondary educational years I did not feel like an efficient learner.  The Internet wasn’t as prevalent in my earlier schooling years, yet I still felt overloaded going into libraries or even opening up a textbook.  As I look back and dissect my dilemma, lack of efficiency as a learner, I did not possess the skills I needed specific to my learning style.  I was being overloaded too easily.  My mind was busy and I could not focus on doing a superior job on tasks which required more than 30 minutes of my time.  It wasn’t until the latter part of my undergraduate degree when I finally started fine tuning my learning style and discovering what made me successful.  Palfrey and Gasser emphasize that “parents and teachers must work with kids to teach them the skills they will need to manage all the information that can enrich their lives in a digital era” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  My parents primarily taught me management skills, but I feel I would have had a greater edge if my teachers put more of an importance in the classroom on these same issues.

I think it is okay to experiment with finding techniques which work best for any one particular learning style.  However, there is a time and a place to focus and get work done.  Craig Jarrow, author of Time Management Ninja, offered “8 Ways to Stop Multitasking and Get Work Done”:

  1. Do One Thing at a Time – Contrary to the multi-tasker’s creed, you’ll actually get more tasks done by doing them individually. As well, you’ll do it quicker and with fewer mistakes and less rework.
  2. Be Present – Be present with your work and with those you are working with. Stay on your current todo and don’t let your focus float to other tasks. This means not checking email while you are meeting with someone. And it means not working during that meeting on your laptop.
  3. Finish Before You Start – Make sure you finish tasks to closure before starting the next one. There is great productivity momentum in finishing things to done before taking on the next task.
  4. Don’t Let Small Tasks Interrupt Big Ones – Resist letting small items interrupt big ones. Don’t pick up that 2 minute task just because it’s easy. Don’t answer that email just because you saw it drop into your inbox.
  5. Put Down the Tech – Technology has allowed us to work anywhere. That doesn’t mean you should. Close your email, turn off the phone, and put down the unneeded tech while you are working.
  6. Clean Your Workspace – A cluttered desk is a multi-tasker’s dream. Lots of random things to pick up and work on instead of your work. Clear your desk of everything but the task you intend to work on.
  7. Make An Appointment With Your Work – I am a big advocate of scheduling appointments with your toughest tasks. Designate time to work on one task or project. Go to a meeting room or work location if it helps concentrate on the task at hand.
  8. Eliminate Interruptions – Interruptions are multi-tasking in disguise. Prevent them by turning off the ringers/beeps, the email notifications, and yes, close your door if you must.

(Jarrow, 2013)

 Although Jarrow’s tips might target businessmen and women, I think they are universal and relevant to teachers and students.  I support many of his tips and often practice them myself when I’m crunched for time and need to demonstrate good productivity.  It’s beneficial our students develop coping skills to manage the sea of information in which they tread on a daily basis.  Don Tapscott points out near the end of chapter four, “we shouldn’t blame technology” (Tapscott, 2008).  I like that he made this point.  Why blame anybody or anything for certain aspects of our life we cannot control to a certain extent.  Instead, one shouldchannel productive energy into overcoming things that otherwise seem challenging by developing the necessary survival skills to be successful.


Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jarrow, C. (2013). Time Management Ninja. Retrieved from http://timemanagementninja.com/2013/09/8-ways-to-stop-multitasking-and-get-work-done/ on May 26, 2014.



#thattech Week 2–Net Gen Creativity, Advantage or Disadvantage?

In chapter three of Grown Up Digital, author Don Tapscott discusses the characteristics typical of today’s Net Geners.  I recognized many of these behaviors and attitudes and even found some of them to be true regarding my own traits.  One of the behaviors I find particularly irritating is the expectation that Net Geners need to be constantly entertained.  While this tends to annoy me, I sometimes will catch myself being consumed with my own devices or the Internet when I know I should be doing something more productive.

The idea, presented in the reading, that the Net Generation thinks work should be fun causes concern.  Hopefully there may always be desirable aspects of work, but one’s job cannot expect to be a thrill a minute.  Tapscott did mention “to be sure, employers who allow Net Geners to assume themselves online or wear headphones, need proper work design and polices to maximize productivity” (Tapscott, 2008).  This is a strong point when it comes to promoting choice, change and creativity with technology access to ensure something is getting done which is yielding output.  But is this all just scrutiny?

Born Digital discussed similar ideas but not in the way Tapscott approached the matter.  Authors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s literature focused more on the creativity side and what young people are doing.  They quickly noted that Digital Natives are indeed creative when it comes to online usage.  However, it is now recognizable“the extent to which this creativity represents an opportunity for learning, personal expression, individual autonomy, and political change” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  Digital Natives are the founders of their well-known mash-ups, remixes, and other such art forms.  One perspective I found thought-provoking was the idea that “remixes allow Digital Natives and others to interact with cultural objects in a way that affects how cultures develop and are understood” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  I never looked at creativity from a sense it could change the way we understand cultures.

I think there is so much involved in the world of technology and gamification that’s changing learning and education.  It is a great way to help today’s students practice their desire for choice, change and creativity. I found an interesting video demonstrating a teacher’s determination in the classroom to allow his students a rich educational environment through gaming.  By the end of the video, students are petitioning to get more technology into their schools because they are having so much fun with this method of learning.  But unfortunately we don’t always have access to the tools or resources needed to help endorse this notion.


OLTV19. (2010). Exciting New Approach to Classroom Learning! Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OSJ5LwAXxLk on May 21, 2014.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

#thattech Week 1–Who do you want to be?

In the book Born Digital co-authors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser discuss “Digital Natives,” the term they use for children born into the digital world.  They seem to be particularly concerned with the Digital Native’s identity formation and the threats posed with their every move online, throughout social media and virtual worlds.  Although they spend the majority of chapter one arguing this threat, I feel we cannot live a productive life of exploration in fear of doing something wrong or else we will never make new discoveries.

It is human nature to transform throughout many different stages of our life’s journey in discovering ourselves, who we are, and our ultimate identity.  It’s entertaining to look back at celebrities, colleagues, friends, or even family members and reminisce about the different phases they may have gone through as they were defining their identity in the moment (e.g. goth, punk, emo, hippie, etc.).  The authors point out, “the version of the identity of a Digital Native that a given onlooker sees may depend a lot on how the onlooker accesses this morphing, sprawling identity” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010, p. 35).

Many of us are guilty of sporting silly facial hair-dos, hanging chains from our belt or pants, getting tattoos or body piercings, etc.  Let’s face it, we thought it was cool…at the time!  As an onlooker in both the past and present, it’s imperative to recognize these are all important stages we must take to help uncover who we truly are as individuals.  Whether it’s online or offline, we do things to follow social norms and the internet has only accentuated this form of self-expression.  According to Marc Prensky in his book Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning:

To set the bar truly high and to seek and demand an exceptional level of creativity from students, partnering teachers have to find ways to set students free to do things “their (i.e., the students’) way” much more than we have ever done in the past (p. 154).

We must foster the development of our young people’s identity through experimentation.  How can one learn if they live a “perfect” life?  What is a perfect life?  Palfrey and Gasser point out “the Internet is a virtual laboratory for experiments in identity development” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010, p. 27).  From the Digital Immigrant’s perspective, this can be a terrifying thought.  In scientific experimental laboratories, mistakes are made all the time.  Cyber laboratories are much the same.  I do agree with Palfrey and Gasser when they mention:

Sometimes, Digital Natives misperceive such spaces as more private than they are. Or they may know very well that the spaces are public and disclose information about themselves anyway, for a range of reasons. But rarely do they have in view the full impact of their decision to disclose this information (p. 35-36).

In a perfect world, we could see clearly through a crystal ball and plan every move we make with a calculated decision.  But unfortunately life is all about taking risks; live and learn.  Hopefully we will not pass judgment on Digital Natives down the road and recognize their actions, words, and pictures were just a phase of their digital life.  They will have since moved on, just like the rest of us, and hopefully together we can laugh about the past.  Don Tapscott notes in his book Grown Up Digital, “what an extraordinary period in human history this is—for the first time the next generation coming of age can teach us how to ready our world for the future” (Tapscott, 2008, p. 8).  Let’s not hold back these Digital Natives, but rather allow them to pave their own path to new discoveries and learn real life lessons.  We can help by modeling responsible digital citizenship, but it will be up to them whether they want to follow through with their actions.


Palfrey, J., & Gasser, Urs. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of               Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.