Voxer is something that is being brought up over and over again as a great way to collaborate with people all over the world and have deeper conversations. I love reading posts like this one on “How School Leaders are Collaborating Over Voxer“, which I tweeted out last week. What I noticed immediately was both people jumping in on how they use it, while also talking about wanting to explore it more.
What was my reaction? I shut it down.
When one of the people shared how they used it to listen to conversations on their way to work in the car, and I immediately felt overwhelmed with that thought. My morning drive is filled with listening to music, or podcasts about ANYTHING other than education. I have realized how I need that more than anything lately.
Here are two pictures that push my thinking.
The following is an image of a bunch of people at a concert that I took several years ago who are creating and sharing content to others all around the world.
People look at this picture and many will say how kids are not “living in the moment”, or they are so connected to their devices that they are missing out on life.
Then I show this picture:
Two points that I make here…the people in the second picture are actually not talking to anybody, where in the first picture, they are connecting with people, but it just looks different from what we have been accustomed to as adults. The second point, which to me is more crucial, is how is that I am not really in a place to judge. I look back at my time listening to music, reading a book, or going to the gym, and I actually love the solitude. In fact, sitting in a coffee shop, listening to music and writing this post, is not only something that gives me the opportunity to reflect, but it also has some therapeutic aspects in the way it allows me to release my thoughts. What is important is that I find what works for me and sometimes a personal learning network pushes people towards “group think”, where I need to find what works for me to become successful, at different points of the day. That self-assessment and reflection is critical to people in our world today.
Do you have to do the same thing and ignore something like Voxer? Not at all. The point of the “personal” in “personal learning network”, is that you make it what you want. There are definite advantages of being on Voxer (this article talks about the power of podcasts for your brain, which many people have started using Voxer for), but as I see it, there are advantages of not being on it for myself as well. Ignoring it at this point is what works for me. Do I see educational uses of Vine? Absolutely. But I also see it as a way to check out and watch ridiculous videos that are there for me to not think. I need that and although I am extremely interested in the medium, I am trying to stop trying to “edufy” every social media site I see. The appeal for social media in many cases was to have fun and sometimes I think that it is easy for myself to lose that initial idea and appeal that drew me to things like Facebook in the first place.
What I believe is that it is important to be in spaces that you can connect with other educators and grow as a teacher and a learner, but those spaces and the use of them, is up to the person. If you hang around in those different spaces, the best stuff will find you. I have no doubt about that. But one of the NCTE 21st Century Literacies is to, “Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information”, and I wonder if sometimes “managing” them is by choosing not to be on them in the first place?
There is a lot of great information out there in the world, but in a world where we need to focus more and more on developing the “whole child”, if our entire life revolves around education all of the time, I am not sure we are modelling “appropriate use” ourselves. Not using something is also part of the appropriate use as we move forward. There will always be something “awesome”, but to try to use everything is not possible or helpful in the long term.