What distractions in your life pull your focus away from your new student responsibilities? What concerns do you have about managing these distractions? After completing the Support Network Exercise, what did you learn about your support network?

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Often there are more than words or online imagery in your workspace—it might be children or pets or roommates or spouses. It might at times seem like you have information overload—as if you were standing in the middle of Times Square, New York, or Piccadilly Circus, London. Even the most focused and dedicated student can be easily distracted.

Photo credit: Microsoft Corporation. (Producer). MP900385427 [Photo of hand and coins]. Retrieved February 6, 2014 from: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=hands+coins&ex=1#ai:MP900385427

Often when focusing on one task, you lose track of others. That is why it is important to have a plan for stepping out of your other roles and into your new role as student. Don’t be tugged by online distractions—keep your place. Staying focused is a professional competency.

You all have multiple roles in life, and maybe “student” is a new role for you. Being engaged in the work requires you to plan, prioritize and create a space where learning takes place; to combat a feeling of selfishness that you might feel.

For this Discussion you will consider how to address distractions you might encounter as a student

Last week, we explored how humanity is tied to technology. We make tools and reshape the world in order to make our lives more comfortable, safe, easy, and enjoyable. This week, we will explore some of the ideas about how and why we do this.

Many times people consider technology to be “cold” and impersonal. But in his classic book, Walden, Henry David Thoreau discussed how we can view almost everything humans do as a search for warmth. As youread the selection, consider these questions:  What does Thoreau mean by “warmth”? How do the technologies you encounter help you feel warmer? Are there uses of technology that are really cold, and if so, what should we do about that?

Read:  Walden, Chapter 1, by Henry David Thoreau 

Thoreau, H. D. (n.d.). Walden. Retrieved October 21, 2014, fromhttp://thoreau.eserver.org/walden1a.html

Most technology, of course, is quite useful to us and does make life better. But individuals may differ about what is good and what not with regard to technology and how we use it.

Many times, humans even seem to resist technology when it appears to be changing our lives for the worst. Sometimes, such people are called “Luddites” after a movement in the early 1800s when factory workers in Britain smashed the machines in protest of the emerging industrial society. In the following article, Richard Conniff explores the Luddite movement and how its ideas still affect our relationship with technology today.

Read: “What the Luddites Really Fought Against”

Conniff, R. (2011, March). What the Luddites really fought against. Smithsonian Magazine.Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-the-luddites-really-fought-against-264412/?page=1  

What is virtual reality?  The simplest explanation is that it is an alternative reality that humans create through technology.

With the advent of the Internet and advanced graphics technology, humans have recently created virtual realities within cyberspace (itself a virtual reality) that allows us to interact with other people in a constructed space through computers, without ever having to leave our own homes. So what are some of these technologies and “virtual realities” that we are creating? 

Read: Why Millions are Living Virtual Lives Online.

Bennett, J. (2010, June 13). Why millions are living virtual lives online. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/why-millions-are-living-virtual-lives-online-104537  

Explore:  How could we create a virtual world with technology?

Bower, M., (n.d.). How could we create a virtual world with technology?[Blog post]. Retrieved March 23, 2014, fromhttps://web.archive.org/web/20120423095838/http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/create-virtual-role-technology

Read: Beith, M., & Bennett, J. (2007, July 30). Alternate Universe; Second Life is emerging as a powerful new medium for social interactions of all sorts, from romance to making money. It may be the internet's next big thing. Newsweek International. 57(3), 36-3. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. 

Explore: Is “virtual” becoming the real world for many? Read what it means to live a virtual life.

 

 

 

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