We put the finishing touches on a group research effort today using Skype to touch base from time to time and collaborative writing in a Google document. It was nice to call and communicate via Skype if we had a question and write together to produce something that took months of preparation in our Qualitative research class. As we finished up, I was thankful for the affordances of the technology that allows me to be home with family yet still close to my classmates. When I refer to affordance what I mean is that the tool allows me to write or do something that I would not be able to do without the tool. These affordances of the emerging technologies also open my eyes to the potential for students to experience more than ever before in school.
There is another side to this experience of writing the paper while at another work site. I had the tendency to multitask and because the affordance of being able to be where I had other demands, it meant that I was not completely focused on the task of writing the paper. People needed me in the “other space” and before I even realized it I was checking an important Google chat that came in, setting up a student for a test, and then returning to my paper. In different forms this pattern continued. The paper received less of my attention than it should have, but then again, everything did. Multi-tasking is a myth. No one does it well. People only dilute the things that they do; something or someone suffers.
So what do we do about this dilemma? I think my answer would be to begin to draw boundaries better and talk about those lines.