Your Tech Habits: Healthy or Harmful?

Spring break is here, and I had the chance to catch up on some podcasts. Interestingly two of them had a similar topic and even featured an interview or quotes from the same expert. One of my roles as an instructional technology coach is to help students learn about digital citizenship, and one piece of that vast topic is having students reflect on their own technology use. So, I’m reflecting on mine. The two podcasts I mentioned, Fresh Air and Note to Self, both aired episodes regarding technology’s addictive nature.

Fresh AirThe Fresh Air episode “‘Irrestible’ By Design: It’s No Accident You Can’t Stop Looking at the Screen” focuses on the book Irresistible by Adam Alter. In his book, Alter discusses smartphone addiction, video game obsession, and how technology is affecting our attention span.

“Will You Do a Snapchat Streak With Me” from the podcast Note to Self takes a more targeted look at how Snapchat draws users in and compels them to check in multiple times a day. The website for this episode offers some less harmful technology and even a tool called Moment, which people can use to monitor their own smartphone habits.

Both of these shows feature either quotes from or an interview with Tristan Harris, a former Google ethicist. He discusses how social media companies and video game creators intentionally make their products addictive. Harris suggests designers should take an oath—as doctors do—to do no harm.

Here’s where my self reflection comes in. Ironically, I’m going to download Moment on my phone so I can monitor how often I use my phone. I’ll do it this week. Check this blog next week to see my results.

Update: Turns out my average for the week was only 35 minutes a day. Pretty good, but I don’t know how I would have done if someone tracked my phone usage time without my knowledge.

Kevin Rogers


To Read or Not to Read…aloud

At its core, the Education Week article “The Power of Reading AloImage result for education week teacherud in Middle School Classrooms” discusses the power and skills gained by reading aloud in the classroom.  However, the author, Timothy Dolan goes deeper by explaining how a central theme of readings creates linear understanding and how reading those texts aloud together allow the teacher constant opportunities for differentiation.



Over the past month or so, a group of NLCS educators worked on a digital learning grant application. Our goal was to increase autonomy.

“To all intents and purposes, the autonomous learner takes a (pro-) active role in the learning process, generating ideas and availing himself of learning opportunities, rather than simply reacting to various stimuli of the teacher (Boud, 1988; Kohonen, 1992; Knowles, 1975).”

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000

Autonomy is one piece of the motivational learning theory, which states that students become intrinsically motivated with they have autonomy, can demonstrate competence (meaning teachers push students to learn just beyond what they already know), and relatedness (feeling valued by the teacher). Once these three elements exist, students feel an internal drive to learn rather than relying on external motivation. All members of the grant team believe NLCS should use the motivational learning theory even if we don’t get the grant. It is indeed what’s best for students. This chart, which was part of our grant pitch, illustrates other benefits of the autonomy piece.

student autonomy

The video features author Paul Tough, whose book Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why discusses schools and teachers who are providing autonomy, competence, and relatedness. He explains how those schools are doing it, and the results they’re seeing.

Personally, I was inspired by the relatedness piece. Tough discusses how teachers who produce strong test scores are important, but teachers who make students feel valued so they come back to school each day are equally important. Although my job is to help teachers enhance learning with technology, I have no doubt that the relationship between students and teachers will continue to be an invaluable element of successful schools.