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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Overstimulation: My struggle with virtual content

My goal was to reflect each week about what is happening in the classroom through blogging. While I am reflecting, I haven't followed through with writing about it. What better to write about then-time management?

Time management and organization has always been a struggle for me. I envy those who it comes natural to. Those who automatically color code and organize things. Without hesitation can envision how things will fit together and can be easily found later. Technology for me this year has added a new layer that I have to adjust to. For me unfortunately the saying is true: out of sight out of mind. That is what technology CAN become in my universe without planning ahead of time. If something is in the back of the fridge, I often forget it is there. If clothes are tucked in a back drawer, they may not get worn for a year. Because I know myself and I know I struggle with these things I find ways around it. Dedicate each shelf in the fridge to certain items as to not have them get lost. Organize my hanging by colors and label drawers. This is the same thing I will have to do in the classroom. Create a system. What that system looks like I haven't figured out yet. Emails, Twitter, Facebook, Moodle, Blogs, Edmodo, Collaborize. These are all things in my educational technological universe. How do I devote time to thoroughly reading, utilizing, and participating in all of these? It does for me create a bombardment of information that can very quickly make me feel overwhelmed and uneasy. Did I miss something?!!?? Each person is different and I don’t know the psychology behind all of it but visual content for me can be serious overstimulation. Bullet points, highlight, large font, tiny font, multiple color font, multiple fonts all together, underline, bold, italics, exclamation points!!!!!!!  It literally makes my brain scream. I need to hear things. It works it out in my head to talk something out and then write it down. Yes- write. Something about the physical act of making my hand create letters on a page makes it make sense for me. Online calendars I forget about. This is just how I operate. While I am trying to figure that out, I am thinking about my students as well.

Not only do they have all of the above things to juggle, but they also have multiple classes using multiple things. Luckily many of the technologies we use have built in organizational features. Calendars, alerts, etc. But again, I can see how it could feel like a huge mountain to climb. It is so very easy to overlook something and have no idea that you didn’t see it.

I think the best thing we can all do is to mainstream information for ourselves and for our students. Just because one thing has a cool new feature and we want to try it, we have to remember all of the other platforms our students are asked to check, read, respond, and work on. Some of the ideas I have had I have decided to forgo for the moment. Sometimes my students want to be able to physically turn in a piece of paper. Much like we give options for our students based on their personal learning needs, we as professionals have to remember that we haven’t outgrown those learning styles. They are still a part of who we are and how we best receive and decode information.

I would love to hear ideas others have for organizing and managing online content and staying organized and on top of everything asked of you!