This “off-season” in the Texas legislature brings about a chance for both House and Senate members to gather information and intel for the upcoming session in 2015. On the House side, Public Education committee members are gathering information to review, repeal, and possibly replace the current method of administering teacher evaluations. That was the not-so-hidden agenda presented to me a couple of weeks ago when I was asked to give testimony on innovative teaching and learning from the viewpoint of a 1:1 school.
Now, I’ve done all manner of public speaking in my life from being a keynote speaker to dressing up like a zombie, I really enjoy engaging a crowd. I don’t get nervous or stage fright like I probably should in those situations. Testifying was definitely an exception to that rule. While I was extremely honored and grateful to have the opportunity to speak, I was nervous beyond belief. Not only did I have a whole set of verbiage to learn (“Mr. Chairman, members of the the committee, etc) but I was also on a 10-minute time limit. Those of you that know me know that I can speak fast so my goal was to cram about 20 minutes worth of content into those 10 minutes without being completely incomprehensible.
Adding to those nerves was the actual physical set-up of the room. I don’t know how many of you have had to give testimony or speak at a Board meeting, but that set-up can be intimidating. I was sitting at table with 3 other witnesses looking up toward a wall of tables that greatly mimicked “The Wall” from Game of Thrones in my mind. This gave the committee members a distinct strategic advantage in terms of having the higher ground and vantage point to any argument.
I had all sorts of crazy ideas for my testimony as a way to stand-out (Zombie costume or take over their iPads somehow came to mind first) . However, in the end, I felt it most important to speak clearly on our 1:1, the changes we’ve seen in learning and teaching, and the fact that professional learning is so valuable with these changes. Here’s a link to the entire testimony (I’m in the first hour and a half or so).
I did decide to auto-tweet my testimony since my notes were written on keynote slides (I had been advised to avoid “reading” my testimony). While I got no response from the panel at the auto-tweet remark, I did actually get Rep. Donna Howard (D) to tweet at me which I took as an early win.
— Donna Howard (@DonnaHowardTX) May 14, 2014
As for the testimony itself, I was fast but seemed to get the story of my district across. I was extremely thankful to see a friendly face, our Superintendent Dr. Nola Wellman, walk in minutes before I took the stand. Once I started speaking a strange calm washed over me. I realized as they moved to the next panelist, that this was a great opportunity to speak my mind about what’s been bothering me about the way the state handles public education. If you don’t want to watch the entire testimony, here’s a few of the points I tried to make:
The Autopsy that is standardized testing
I actually got quoted by the local NPR affiliate for this one, when asked about whether or not state standardized tests should count towards a teachers evaluation, I cautioned the committee that course of action is “dangerous.” My rational being, you are judging that teacher using one metric that is essential an autopsy of what they learned, not only that year from that teacher, but the teacher prior to that and prior to that and so on. This isn’t a new idea among many of us, but thought it was a good opportunity to get that out in the open.
When Rep. Harold Dutton mentioned in his cross testimony of Andrew Kim about whether or not project-based learning worked for “bottom kids” I started stewing. Our culture is so ingrained with the idea of ranking individuals that we now use nomenclature that demeans those struggling students right out of the gate by calling them “bottom kids.” I went on a mini-rant about how we as society need stop the competitive nature of state-testing in our world as it really benefits no one. (note: Rep. Dutton would later go on to apologize for using that phrase)
Evaluating in Isolation
Near the end of our time on the panel, Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock took the opportunity to ask us our opinion on how teachers should be evaluated. There was unanimous agreement among the panel that the focus should shift from the “Dog & Pony” show of teacher-led lectures to encompass more of a 360 view of the classroom and what are the kids doing. As an appraiser you should be not only ask kids what they are learning but also ask them to demonstrate their learning. My main beef with traditional teacher evaluations is the idea that we all should teach in silos (an idea that’s made even worse when you throw in performance-based pay). There are no metrics out there that truly measure teamwork, but having items on a evaluation that encourage collaboration among peers would be valuable to break from the approach of teaching in isolation.
Parents evaluating teachers?
One of the more interesting questions was the final one – Should parents be able to evaluate teachers? This question prompted my “mic drop” (although it was more of a “mic shove” if you watch the video)
When asked the question, here was my response:
“I have no problem at all with parents evaluating teachers….as long as teachers can evaluate parents.” (mic shove)
This whole experience was very eye-opening for me and it has raised some extra questions in my mind that I’d love for some of my fellow bloggers or followers to reply to. Please comment below to one or all of these questions:
1. If you had 10 minutes to present in front of Congress, what would you talk about and why?
2. If you could remake teacher evaluations, what would you do differently?
3. Have you ever had a time in your life when you were given the opportunity to say something, but didn’t?
I’d be curious to hear your responses and invite you to help add to my testimony.
I promise not only that I’ll listen, but that I won’t be staring down at you from a tall desk.
Since the beginning of time, man has always had an innate sense of alertness. In our primitive self, that alertness was used to make us aware of dangers around us. Imagine it – you are hunting and gathering food when all the sudden, you happen upon a pond with fresh water. You bend over to quench your thirst or possibly fill a jug with water for your family, when all of the sudden you hear a twig…
You turn and look for what blood-crazed beast might be approaching you. It turns out to be a smaller creature…like a squirrel (Look! Squirrel!). Following your expience with the varmint, you travel cautiously back to your cave having survived certain death. When you arrive home to your wife and kids you discover that you left your jug full of water behind. “What were you thinking?” she might ask (although back then it might be more like a series of grunts). Your response would be simply “Ah dunno” (which in modern times still sounds like a series of grunts).
The truth is, you were distracted. Your brain refocused attention and energy toward survival and alertness. In that moment, you forgot the water jug and simply returned home. To set this more in modern times, have you ever gone into a room to look for something and then something else caught your eye or someone asked you a question at which point you forget why you are in the room? You might even travel back into the original room to sort of mentally “retrace” your steps and try and figure out why you were going into a certain room.
I know I’ve probably paid hundreds of dollars in wasted electricity staring into the refrigerator pondering why I went there in the first place. By our very nature, we are victims of distraction. Distraction causes our brain to alter their original course of action whenever a new stimulus is produced. Some of us have become quite acute at managing this and claim to be multitaskers (a theory that is seemingly debunked weekly). Others have figured out ways to block out distraction when working on a task.
Enter the era of smartphones and notification alerts. All the sudden, something as small and innocent as a beep or tweet causes us to lose focus on our task at hand. I’m calling this “Notifistraction” (No-tis-fah-strac-shun) Disease, or the mash up of notifications and the distraction they cause. Despite our best efforts to focus our brains still revert back to the stone age twig-snapping event whenever our devices alert us about something.
And that’s only part of it. A local cyber-psychologist here in Austin, Dr. Mike Brooks, says that we are becoming addicted to our alert notifications. He states that we get small endorphin rushes to our brain whenever we get an alert notifying us that someone has connected with us. This can be either mentioning us in a tweet, tagging us in a photo, or commenting on our YouTube video for example. That connection creates endorphins which is subconsciously associated to the sound or sight of a notification alert.
Think of this rat in B.F. Skinner’s famous rat experiment on Operant Conditioning as a simple example of this conditioning.
A more modern example might be the feeling one gets when walking through a casino and listening to the slot machine make all sorts of bells and whistles to claim we have won something. That same primitive level of satisfaction combined with our inability to control perfect focus when distracted make Notifistraction Disease another sign that the Digital Zombie Apocalypse is upon us.
Like everything else I’ve written in this series, I have had some level of personal challenges to overcome when it comes to notifistractions. Recently, I was honored to receive a new Pebble watch as a going away present from my TEC-SIG presidency. Just like any new gizmo, I love the watch. I can see my running times on it, can bring up the weather, and can even be notified when my washing machine is done with my clothes. It uses the smartphone as sort of a “main frame” and just relays alerts to the watch. Now I have notifistractions literally tethered to my body!
Now, as with Digital Yawns, the good news is there are some homeopathic cures out there for those of us suffering from Notifistraction Disease. Here are some tools I’ve deployed personally to help me get through a project or just simply enjoy time with my kids and family without my attention being drawn else where. It’s already come in handy when we went on a recent family trip and I noticed that the airport had mis-tagged our car seats which would have sent them to a totally different city. If my nose had been buried in my phone, I wouldn’t have caught that slip-up.
1. Turn Off Notification Alerts -
I have turned off all audio alerts except for text messages and phone calls. While this might not seem like much of a sacrifice, at one point I was getting Foursquare alerts about how good of mileage Greg Garner made on a recent run. Do I really need to know that? (he’s fast by the way) My next step is turning off that little alert icon that appears on my apps as I don’t need to see the 999 unread email messages I might have.
2. Don’t Respond to Everything Right Away –
I try not to respond or read alerts or social media while sitting in the car. Notice I didn’t say “while driving”. This is still a bit of a challenge, because, just like the Skinner rat, I sometimes want to know what someone is sending me. Of course, with the new watch, I can see the alert on my wrist and just choose not to respond, but that’s still a distraction.
3. Employ the “Pomodoro Technique” -
When working on a project, I employ the “Pomodoro Technique“. I have to give props to Lisa Johnson for sending this my way, but it’s a simple technique used to maintain focus throughout a project. Here’s how it works. You write down a goal or project that you need to work on. Then you basically turn off all notifications, shut down email, turn off your phone, etc for a period of 25 minutes. When the 25 minutes is up, you can take a break for 5 minutes to check email, social media, your clothes in the washing machine, etc but then you have to get back to work on the task for another 25 minute period. I even employed this technique while writing this post!
Let’s face it, we’ve been distracted creatures for thousands of years, but it’s time we started managing those distractions and not letting them rule our lives. Do we really need to know when our washing machine is done? The next time you suffer from Notifistraction Disease, ask yourself, is it really important that I get this alert on my phone? You might find yourself being distracted by more pleasant things like nature and birds and…..squirrels!
Now….what was I saying?
Note: This post is the third installment of a 5-part series on digital zombies, re-animated, if you will, from my SXSW presentation on Surviving the Digital Zombie Apocalypse.
Coming off my SXSWedu presentation on “Surviving the Digital Zombie Apocalypse” and subsequent MindShift article on how our brains are “changing” with societal changes, I thought I’d start a 5-part series of observations and tools to cope with this new digitally instant world. Today’s post focuses on a trend I’ve been noticing as our phones become more and more smart.
“The Digital Yawn”
You ever have that moment, where you experience something and are somewhat annoyed by it? Better yet, have you ever actually participated in something and end up annoyed at yourself?
I’m one of those people that feels naked without their phone. I used to think I was in the minority, but after my SXSW presentation, I think I’m now just part of the “in” crowd. I experimented going digitally naked once and felt the experience strangely freeing and refreshing. It’s kind of like carrying a heavy back pack full of essential things and then putting it down for a moment. You know you need to pick it back up again but enjoy the break on your back muscles.
The other day, I was amongst a group of colleagues discussing work life and talking some mild business when it happened again.
I was witnessing something I sensed was happening more and more in social circles (even in non-social ones). Here’s how it goes:
Everyone is standing or sitting around, having conversation when someone decides it’s time to check his phone. Maybe it vibrated. Maybe it flashed or blinked up some sort of notification, but he checked it. Then, almost without fail, someone else in the group decides to do the same thing. Only, they likely weren’t notified or “pinged” for any reason. They were merely mimicking the action of a group member doing the same thing. Or maybe they took his actions as an opportunity to break from normal social maladies to check their own device.
Only it doesn’t stop there. A third person takes this opportunity to check their device. Then a fourth. Then a fifth. Eventually everyone is checking their phones. This experience is what I’m calling the “Digital Yawn”.
Originally, I wanted to call it something more viral like YouTuberculosis or iFluenza or maybe Cell Phonic Plague. But since it usually isn’t a permanent or long lasting event, I had to search for something simpler but just as contagious like a yawn.
After some back and forth on ideas with colleague and blogger, Gina Dodd, I settled on the idea of a “Digital Yawn.” It turns out this isn’t a completely unique idea as research would turn up this article from the Huffington Post mentioning the yawn parallel to cell phone usage back in 2012. I think something more ubiquitous and device agnostic works better for these situations (especially with the proliferation of tablets in the world).
The second event that usually follows a group digital yawn is a moment of involuntary silence. This is known as “Nocialization”, or the lack of socialization in a social setting. Again, research shows that this term has started to make appearances in Urban Dictionary in mid-2013.
While I think that as a society we are becoming more and more connected, that connection comes with a cost. The cost of giving up face to face time with others. The cost of being fully in the moment.
So what does all this mean? Are we all becoming Digital Zombies? Drawn to our phones like those walkers looking for brains? Are more and more of us are ambling about through the world slowly as we check our text messages?
No. I don’t think so. The reality is, like with any innovation or cultural nuance, society is quick to become addicted and latch on. But eventually we level out. Check out this picture Jacob Luevano shared with me on twitter. Apparently there were paper zombies before there were digital ones and we have been nocializing for a while.
No, I think like anything else, this pendulum will swing to center. Becoming aware of these social (or non-social) situations is the first step in balancing out our lives. So the next time you are in a crowd of friends or trapped in an elevator with a bunch of strangers, resist the temptation to grab for that device and check on it.
Instead, lean back, breathe in the air, and smile. You are now a member of a new movement. We are battling the digital walking dead one person at a time. The apocalypse may come one day, but with all of your help, we can at least enjoy each other’s conversation and company as the end comes while our phones vibrate and ping away unsuccessfully trying to gain our attention.
About a year ago, we decided after much input to open up YouTube Safe Search for students. While there can be a lot of mind-numbing videos about squirrels on jet-skis, there is also a large amount of instructional content on there. Want to learn how to do Photoshop? Or maybe just the right way to carve a turkey? It’s all on there.
Being a 1:1 iPad school district means that anything we enable on the filter side, pretty much goes out to all students since it’s all at their finger tips. It’s taken some time for teachers to adjust to this new student-centered focused on learning versus the teacher as “disseminator of all information” model. One thing we’ve noticed throughout this initiative is that a lecture-based, teacher at the front, method of instruction lends itself to more distraction and less educational use of the devices. As teachers have shifted the knowledge to the students, distraction has decreased and learning with iPads as tools has increased. This may seem like a simple enough switch, but we are asking some of the best and brightest teachers to change everything they have been doing the past 20-25 years successfully. Which brings me to last January and the opening of YouTube.
Ten full minutes after announcing that YouTube would be open for students, I received the following email: (Name omitted)
I knew the sender of this email very well and for the sake of this article we’ll just refer to him as Jim. Being a very accomplished teacher, I realized the worry that Jim had with all the distraction and possible off-task behavior. I had a list of apps that allow some sort of screen-sheltered management. Apps like Nearpod or “Focus” by JAMF allow some form of screen control and embedded lock-down. My gut reaction was to seek out one of these apps as a way to help this him with his teaching. Knowing Jim well though, I decided on a different approach and response:
I made sure to include the all important smiley face on my response so that Jim knew I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek but also sincere when it came to thinking about shifting the pedagogical practice he was employing. I later regretted not adding the statement that you can also use your “iMouth” to enforce restrictions.
While this was done to spark thinking and hopefully garner a bit of a laugh, the overall message has had some affect, even outside of Jim’s classroom. I mentioned this to some colleagues shortly after this and word spread about the “2Eyes” app. Before I knew it, people were actually sending me messages asking what the 2 Eyes app was because they couldn’t find it in the app store. In fact, Jim even responded with “I know that Carl. In fact, any teacher worth their salt knows that. It’s just that…this is hard! Having all this distraction pulls their attention away from what I’m trying to teach them.”
We ended the email exchange and opted for a face to face conversation, at which point I offered some assistance. While I couldn’t ask him to change his entire pedagogical practice, I made him a promise to work with him on changing some of what he’s currently doing to a more student-centered approach. A month later, Jim invited me into the classroom to watch an interactive lesson using formative assessment and Socrative. While this wasn’t a complete shift to student-driven learning, it was a step in the right direction and helped solve two issues:
1. Students felt much more empowered and more engaged in the class and lesson. When I informally asked them what they thought of this new approach many mentioned it made learning fun again. Some said that normally (even without an iPad), they would just check out and day-dream while the teacher asked the kids questions. Now they felt like they needed to participate to be a part of the class.
2. The teacher also left feeling empowered. Jim was able to walk around the room and send out the questions via the app and watch and listen as kids responded. He was able to instantly show the class data on the screen and have discussion about which points the group did poorly on. He was able to focus his direct instruction on those weaker areas in future lessons.
The moral of this story is that changing in teaching practice doesn’t happen overnight. You can put new devices in the hands of kids, but without some adjustments by the instructors, they are little more than expensive eReaders. I applaud teachers like Jim who have the courage to reach out and admit that this is hard. His original email was a call for help and I could have taken the easy way out by just giving him some screen-controlling app and been on my merry way.
That would have benefitted me in terms of time and energy saved from having to work with him on those changes. It would have benefitted Jim because he could have had a quick fix for teaching the kids. There’s one group though that wouldn’t have benefitted, those students in Jim’s class. They are the reason we are all here and sometimes it means taking the more difficult road if it’s for the betterment of learning.
If you are a teacher or administrator reading this, you will experience this exact scenario if you haven’t already when it comes to a “mobile device initiative” or BYOD. While it may seem like that easiest answer is the best answer, take a moment to think to yourself and ask the question: Is this beneficial to student learning?
On January 16th, 2014 I held a press conference to announce my retirement. There comes a time in every person’s life when they know it’s time to move on. I’ve seen some of the most memorable sports retirements and wanted mine to be modeled in the same vain.
Unlike those memorable speeches held in stadiums around the country, mine was held in my kitchen around the table. No microphones or press (unless you include the 3 precocious girls running around at the time).
It was time.
And so, with a heavy heart I told my wife that I was retiring from the DJ business. Instead of tearful goodbyes and interview questions those athletes face, my exit interview was much more steeped in reality. My wife’s response was, “that’s great honey, can you change the baby’s diaper?”
From a career that had humble beginnings DJing a friend’s wedding as a favor in 2010 to the height of my career in 2012, I had a lot of joy in getting the crowd up and moving during a wedding. I’m not blessed with much musical talent and I’m notorious for singing the wrong words to songs. One thing I’ve always been able to do well is motivate an audience to get up and dance.
I realized something those last few wedding gigs – good teachers are essentially classroom DJs.
Think about it.
Your job as a teacher is to motivate the kids to learn. The good ones know when things are going slow, when the crowd is starting to get bored and they change the song. Sometimes, you even need to get out into the middle of the room and get the kids up and moving. I mean, if we didn’t do that, we could essentially be replaced by a really good Pandora station for learning. Here are four traits that really good teachers and DJ’s share:
Just as there are classic songs that we play, there are classic lessons that teachers teach. However, the same songs don’t always work for the same crowd. If I tried to play some hip-hop at a predominately country wedding, I’d get a lot of listless, slack-jawed stares. The same is true for the how we teach. I used Google Docs with the Bride and Groom to request songs for their ceremony in advance. This “formative assessment” told me a lot about their styles and tastes and I could tailor the music to fit their needs. I see teachers doing more and more of this in classrooms as they change the direction of a lesson based on the crowd’s tastes. Sometimes, you have to remix it, change the style and suit the interests of your audience.
One other thing I loved about DJing was discovering all the new music the “kids these days” were listening to. Keeping my material fresh and up to date was a big key to my success. There’s nothing more embarrassing than playing MC Hammer’s 2 Legit 2 Quit to an empty dance floor. As teachers, we also must make an effort to stay up to date. The influx of technology and tools available on the web are infinite and sometimes mind-numbing. However, using these fresh tools can keep your crowd more engaged and often will save you time in your day.
This one was a challenge for me early in my career. I felt it was so important to keep people dancing non-stop for 4 hours that I never planned for breaks or mixing in slow songs (“drink-getters” we call those in the biz). A good DJ knows when to change things up by reading the audience. With the amount of content we are “forced” to get through in the classroom, it’s easy to put the petal to the metal for 180 days straight. However, you’ll leave your students exhausted and drained if you went at that pace every day. Instead, change it up a bit. Have a “slow dance” from time to time to allow kids to catch their breath, reflect, and then get ready for more.
Some of my most memorable moments of being a wedding DJ are when the crowd responds to a song. (The Isley’s Brother’s “Shout” being the ultimate audience response song) . Sometimes in the classroom there can be that magical moment where the kids are so engaged you can almost feel them learning together “out loud” as a group. While you can do you best to anticipate this by judging your audience, adjusting your music and pacing, sometimes, you just have to let it go and let them take control. Pass the mic around and let them sing their rendition of “Sweet Caroline” so they can make those memories.
While I may be retiring in name, I’m not retiring in spirit. My crowd has shifted from inebriated party-goers to teachers and administrators that are thirsty to learn. My music is now the infusion of technology and dynamic learning in every day classroom life. I still need to judge the crowd for interest, avoid the empty dance floors, and allow them time to get a drink every now and then. So, in a way, this isn’t a retirement, it’s a melding of my previous career with my current one. I’m teaching like a DJ.
And that is sweet music to my ears….even if I get the words wrong from time to time.
My attempts at predictions last year had mixed results. However, failure has never stopped me from pressing forward so here goes my bold predictions that I’m sure will go wrong in 2014. While these predictions are focused primarily in the Ed Tech realm, I will throw in a couple of wild cards just for giggles.
MOOCs rebound -
Those Massive Open Online Courses had been through the ringer in 2013 and like with many new ideas, there was some serious questioning about the validity of learning in a MOOC. Feeling like I needed to be an informed person about the subject before judging it, I took my own MOOC on the social & health impacts of a post-zombie apocalypse society in a course based on the show The Walking Dead. While the course was interesting to me, I can see that the less motivated might easily be lost in this online learning abyss. That said, anytime you can freely gain knowledge (like how to cure your own meat for the end of days) is a bonus. I think they’ll continue to grow and expand especially as more credible universities create courses.
Textbooks become obsolete –
Remember these are BOLD predictions! Let me clarify a bit on this one. Textbook companies will continue to survive (in the case of the “Big 3“) and many will start to thrive (in the case of the open textbook market). I see schools being the biggest reason why this change doesn’t happen right away. There is a mindset that a textbook is required to get through the learning objectives for the year. Until that mindset changes, they won’t go away completely. However, I do think more and more districts are discovering that it might be more powerful to pay their own teachers to make a course/textbook than pay a company a 500% mark-up.
A new social media platform will take off with teens -
I go from one of the more bolder predictions to one of the “no duh” predictions. Every year there seems to be a new space that teens and tweens flock to. We know Facebook is as ancient as a 45 record to them, but we don’t know where they will end up. Last year, SnapChat and Instagram were spaces they flocked to and in turn made “selfie” the word of the year. This trend will likely continue and probably spill into more of the micro-video platforms like Vine. However, if I’m going to be bold….I say MySpace makes a comeback and I’m being totally serious. They re-branded themselves and made a snazzy iOS app which allows all the things teens love, an easy space to put stuff about themselves.
Wearable tech makes its way into the classroom -
Yes, the 2013 K-12 Horizon report put wearable technology, like Google’s Glass, on the “3-4 year” horizon. Although, judging by how quickly trends are starting to take off in educational circles, I predict we’ll start hearing case studies about how Nike Fuel bands helped battle childhood obesity in the classroom or how Melon Headbands helped students with their ADHD.
Augmented Reality becomes reality -
Just like we can’t imagine a world without internet, augmented reality is quickly shifting from “nice to have” to a powerful tool we need. Last year, apps like Aurasma and ColAR made big splashes in the classroom. I see this trend growing exponentially as more and more schools go with BYOD or 1:1 initiatives to get devices in students’ hands. While I still think it’s a couple of years away, my dream app that I want invented would allow the teacher to hold up his/her device and “see” what the kids are thinking with thought bubble floating over their heads. That could be both powerful and scary.
While I don’t plan to have all the gore of a typical zombie movie in my presentation, I do plan to disseminate some scary information about our brains and our relationships with technology (all while in full zombie make-up of course). This might prove troubling to some, so I’ll have a disclaimer for all of those attending the session -
“Warning: Graphic Content. Some of the information presented here may be disturbing for some audience members.”
The classroom desk will truly die -
I got a lot of mileage on my post on “The Obituary of the Student Desk” last year. It was inspired by visiting one of our new flexible classrooms that a third grade teacher was testing out. After visiting a high school version of a similarly adaptable classroom, I realized learning no longer should be bound by an uncomfortable, immovable chair/desk combo. My hope for 2014, is that students’ posteriors everywhere are given a break from those medieval torture devices of yesteryear.
My “Giving Up Google” for lent experiment will be the stuff of legends -
Last year, following an exchange with some teenage students about how they “don’t do email” anymore, I decided that I would give up email for Lent. While that experiment only lasted 19 days, it forced myself and others to think about all the different ways we communicate. Ultimately it failed because people couldn’t get in touch with me and while I wanted them to know why I was doing this, forcing them to give up email as well wasn’t an intended outcome. This year, I’m going to do something that should only affect me. I’m giving up Google. To clarify, I’m not giving up Gmail, Hangouts, or Google Drive, but the ability to search. And to be sure I don’t cheat with another search engine like Bing or Alta Vista (does that even exist?), I’ll widen the challenge to include any search engine. That’s right. If I want information in those 40 days, I’ll have to either type in the URL of a specific site or “phone a friend” that knows the answer. It’s like living in 1995 all over again. Regardless if I make it or not, like the email challenge, I should have some interesting data about how dependent we have become on search engines.
Let the future begin!