Returning slowly…

I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compestella from the French border to Santiago in Spain with my fifteen-year daughter this summer.

Thirty-four days.

I tweeted recently…

I thought and talked about many things on the Camino and I revisited many of my ideas about digital and social media. I did this in the context that I was offline most of the time (exceptions: email to family, some news and Skype).

Being offline was a novel experience for me.

I think that since about 2007, I have spent one to three hours most days online – much of this was on a professional basis, involving my studies and educational-research; in recent years it was around my personal and professional learning networks via Twitter and this blog.

I am trying to work my way through many of my Camino thoughts on digital and social.

One of them is about not having a device in hand. Not tapping pockets, checking for mails, no flashing screens. I had become so used to these and other actions that they seemed like second nature. It took a while to begin to un-learn them and now it is taking me longer than expected to re-learn them again.

I am not quite sure of the significance of this but I guess that many of the early adopters of technology took the interaction with the device for granted. I notice now I am more in control of the device, putting it away for longer lengths of time and disabling lots of “alerts” – I am not sure how long this will last, but I find the re-learning interesting.

I think that in the context of teaching and learning, how we introduce the handling of online-devices in schools needs further thought.

Rather than the device being omnipresent, teacher and student must see it as an aid to pedagogy rather than replacing the learning interaction between people.

Just a thought, to get eLearningIsland restarted as we begin the new school year!


  1. Donal O' Mahony

    Hi Keith and thanks for that. I am becoming increasingly aware that the word “mindfulness” is appearing more and more in conversation…I have a colleague who has just written a dissertation on mindfulness in the secondary school classroom – you are right its about “regaining” control – and finding balance…

  2. Keith Young

    Hi Donal,
    Interesting take on going technology-free. In the busy back to school period this year I particularly felt that technology can at times be overbearing; the demand for an instant reply to an email, tweet or text is actually quite stressful and lowers your productively.

    I’ve also been reading quite a bit about people who actively try take control of their work, and its pace, back from from their email inbox. Having dedicated email time allows for the space and time to do real work. It’s a difficult transition that requires discipline but many of the blog posts I’ve read have reported liberating results.

    I wonder if in the coming years there will be some soul searching on finding this balance?