On Thursday, I attended the George Graham Lecture at UVa. I missed the last lecture because I was taking my comprehensive exam, so I was excited to be able to attend the lecture this year. While the lecture and panel discussions were thought-provoking, I realized something during the lecture that had nothing really to do with the topic (dyslexia), but instead prompted me to think about my use of technology at conferences and workshops.
The lecture was held in an auditorium on the lowest level of Ruffner Hall at UVa. I didn’t realize, when I first took a seat, that the location of the lecture meant that cell phone service was almost completely non-existent. I tried to access the wi-fi, but couldn’t get logged on to that, either. Once, as I retrieved my phone from my purse, I briefly received a signal, but that only lasted for a moment. I’m so used to tweeting during conferences and workshops that I was lost. I felt so disconnected from the world outside of Ruffner Hall. While I could still access some things on my phone while offline, I was severely limited in what I could do with either my phone or iPad.
However, I had a notebook and a selection of InkJoy pens in my purse, so I decided to go old-school for the day. I turned to a blank page and started jotting down notes during the first part of the lecture. As the day progressed, I noticed something that surprised me. I felt as though I was more in tune with not only the speakers, but also the other attendees. While I might have been disconnected from the outside world, I was more connected with my immediate surroundings. I felt as though I paid more attention to the speaker’s words and had the opportunity to digest those words and relate them to my professional experiences and knowledge.
So, what does this mean? Do I stop tweeting? Do I limit my tweeting? Do I wait and share what I’ve learned or experienced after the session, lecture, or workshop is over? Do I leave my phone (and iPad and laptop) in my bag? It seems as though that’s something to consider. I love technology, but maybe I need to re-evaluate how and when I use it during professional development. Maybe being disconnected is not always such a bad thing, after all.