Week 2 Productivity Suites & Presentation Tools

It felt like James Hamblin was speaking about me in his video. My computer always has several different browser windows open, with no fewer than 6 tabs open on each, most have 10-15, and I panic if something shuts down and they are all closed. I am guilty of multitasking without actually being as productive as I plan to be. I tried to reflect on how I worked prior to these technologies coming into my life. As a child in the 80’s, we did not have the wealth of information at our fingertips; if you didn’t know the answer to a question you had to find a book and look it up. Anyone still have an encyclopedia collection? It’s become a reflex – when a question is posed, you google it and have the answer instantly. We never are left to wonder about questions or argue about when movies or songs were released. This should allow us to be more productive because it’s quicker to access and we have unlimited resources to choose from on the internet. But are we more productive? I would argue that this makes us less productive and more distracted.

If we are more distracted and preoccupied with whatever new idea pops into our heads, we are not using our time efficiently. The productivity suites that we discussed in our presentation this week are designed to make work easier. One of the benefits pointed out in the article by Jacquelyn Bengfort is maximizing collaboration. This made me think of collaboration between fellow education professionals or with our students. I have been able to work on group projects and presentations with my fellow students throughout the pandemic, some of whom are on different continents. This would not have been possible back when I was a nursing student. The use of collaborative technology also allows the sharing of global perspectives and allows us to work and learn from individuals from varied backgrounds. This adds to the idea of knowledge sharing and the constructivist learning theory we learned about in our first class. I think these enrich our experiences and add to our productivity.

I have talked about my experiences in education pre-internet and pre-productivity suites. I actually didn’t really think much about these applications prior to my role as an educator and only used google docs for the first time last year when I collaborated with my group for a grad class project. In my previous job as a RN, we don’t use any of this technology; we still handwrite our documentation in physical charts. I don’t think I was less productive in that role because we don’t utilize Microsoft office but I can say there was more separation between work and home. I was able to easily disconnect from my work, unlike now where my work is always with me. Physically with my computer in my home office and mentally as I am always feeling like I should be responding to emails or working a little longer on marking assignments. I may be more productive in my work but is that always a good thing?

So I would say I am still exploring the idea of productivity and how we have been influenced by it. Does anyone else feel like these tools make it harder to turn off your work brain?

7 thoughts on “Week 2 Productivity Suites & Presentation Tools

  1. I appreciated how you brought to light some of the positive aspects that have come from the pandemic. Although it must have been difficult to work with students in different continents, with busy schedules and time zone differences, what a unique opportunity to hear different perspectives and to literally work outside of the box. With productivity suites and presentation tools, it was possible to collaborate with peers in non-traditional ways, but while still learning and engaging. From reading the blog posts thus far, I realized that most of us are multiple-tab kind of people, and maybe we’re all a little like that just because of the roles we are in and the classes we are taking. This is very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. The question you posed- Does anyone else feel like these tools make it harder to turn off your work brain? To answer simply- yup! I found this past year that I constantly had something to do, several emails in my inbox that were assignments that needed to be marked, messages coming in on Teams, parents inquiring about their children’s marks, while building new courses to meet the Hybrid/Remote learning needs. To say I had a difficult time stopping would be an understatement. I began to make a rule that I wasn’t allowed to look at my email past 9:00 pm. Whatever was there would be there in the morning. I wasn’t always successful, but I did learn about the importance of boundaries and then took that lesson to my students to remind them to make their own. I wonder if your nursing students felt the same pull to always be doing something? And you personally? How do we manage to set those boundaries in a world where our worth can be tied up in what we do? Just the usual existential questions about teaching in the year 2020-2021. .. . I often thought of the quote this year when I needed to re-center my focus on shutting the computer off- “we are not human doings, we are human beings” to remind myself to just be.

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  3. I really appreciated your post!
    I agree, with the technology and the constant connectedness (unless backwoods camping or something of that nature) it feels like it is impossible to escape either thinking about work, or work finding you. I have found that it takes a STRONG personal commitment to “turn off” work, which is funny, since I remember how great I thought it was when I was able to get my emails to my phone for the first time several years ago. As you alluded to, I believe the mental health aspect of the constant connectedness is ever-present and likely understudied at this point.
    Your statement regarding working as an RN without the use of Microsoft Office struck a chord with me – Of course, it would entirely possible for you to have used Microsoft Office, but would it have improved your work? My assumption is that it likely wouldn’t. Applying this notion to education, I wonder aloud if education, teaching, and learning are truly better off with the rampant use of Ed-Tech tools? Seeing my doctor, dentist, etc. applying an array of tech tools doesn’t necessarily make me feel any better or more confident in their practice; I am unconvinced that education should be different.

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  4. Thank you for your post! The collaborative piece you spoke on resonated with me. I have taken online courses prior to the pandemic, but the courses I took were not the same as what we are presently taking. The professor would post weekly readings, quizzes, expectations for assignments, ect. We never met via Zoom (Skype back in those days), and you were essentially on your own to complete the course. Presently, it is much more interactive and I agree with you with how great it is to collaborate with people who are taking the course in various places throughout the world. To hear their perspectives and their experiences, and for them to hear ours helps us all learn and grow as educators. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love the mention of the encyclopedia! I can remember my grandmother having the full set (which later became ours) and being so fascinated by it. I also remember going to the library and having to look up our topics by index to find the material we would be looking for. This brings me to my point of the internet and your question, we have endless pages to scroll through when researching now. Instead of assuming the information is coming from a credible source my thoughts as a child were: it’s in the library, it has to be right?. To now combing through sources to ensure the credibly. I think the wealth of information, credible or not, at our fingertips can also be a distraction.

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  6. Pingback: Multitasking, Single-Tasking, and Productivity – My Digital Learning Journey

  7. Hey Allison, I think these tools make it harder to turn off my work brain. I agree with you on how you feel that your work is always with you and the need to respond to emails or correct some assignments. I find it very interesting that you can compare this to another profession, and acknowledge how hard it is to disconnect from teaching. This is something that I have had to work on and set boundaries for both myself and my students. Having tools like Remind and Microsoft Teams are excellent ways to communicate efficiently with students and parents, but this connectedness has its downfalls. I had to remind my students countless times especially during remote learning, that I am not available 24/7. I had students message me regarding assignments as late as 10 pm and be upset that I never responded. I felt bad at times, but I had to remind myself that I needed a break from being a teacher and needed to focus on my family and myself to create that balance so I can be the kind of teacher my students need me to be. So as good as many of these tools are to make education “easier”, they can also complicate things at the same time. How do you think we can turn off our work brain, and still feel like we are being an effective teacher?

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