Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pushing your life's pause button

For the last 10 days, I was up scouring Moose Lake, Minnesota for fish with my 3 kids. Good times to be sure; Hannah (3) caught her first fish and Hailey (8) decided that fish are not that slimy after all and started taking them off the hooks. I am trying to remember if it was Bill Bryson who mentioned that in many ways, an annual summer trip up to a lake fishing gives you a tape-measure of growth of your kids' lives.

Then I returned, which meant checking the cell phone for messages, checking the work phone for messages, checking email, checking Google Reader, checking Twitter, and on down the list. It seems I missed out on quite a bit, which I suppose would be impossible not to do in such a world.

This was the first extended time I've been "unplugged" from my network in 3 years, as the last two summers we were basically vacationless with changes in positions and where we lived. And I have to admit, I'm not sure how I feel right now. Like when people miss an episode of Lost and lament that the whole storyline will never make sense anymore. Or, maybe it is putting in perspective how much a virtual network of colleagues can mean in you life... I mean, it's not as though they can come with you and your 3-year-old in the boat.

I love the graphic below by Jeff Utecht, who describes 5 stages of PLN adoption, a resource we used heavily for the recent course I taught on personal learning networks:

The sage that Jeff already has identified where I am, going through some serious perspective of what I can learn in this lifetime and what I need to live in this lifetime.

Undoubtedly, many Iowa educators will take off on the upward slope of the PLN adoption journey this year, taking the plunge in online tools such as Twitter and RSS aggregators to connect to other thoughts and thinkers out there. Some will fizzle out immediately in the face of other time commitments, and others will find success, adding more and more in their climb. But all who do continue must know there will be a time when unplugging will challenge the important and relevance of the network in their lives.

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