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Thinking about Time and Technology for Academic Work

My phone is on its way out. It’s an Iphone 5 and my service contract has expired, so I should probably upgrade. But I’m not a fan of the current Iphone 6 — it just seems too big to me, even in it’s non-phablet form. Because I’ve read that Apple is planning to release a smaller Iphone 6 soon, I’m waiting to get a new one. (Not always very patiently waiting, sigh.)

This self-imposed waiting for a new phone has required a few recent behavior modifications on my part. One of the ways that the phone is breaking is that there’s something loose inside that makes an audible noise when I move it too quickly, so no more shake to undo if I type (or delete) something I want to revert, a feature I use infrequently but do like. I also can’t really turn my phone off anymore because it crashes repeatedly for the first 10 minutes or so that I turn it back on. And the battery life + indicator have both gotten a bit flaky — sometimes the battery seems to drain faster than it should (occasionally in combination with the phone getting warm), and other times the battery indicator doesn’t change at all, even when I’ve been using the phone for a while and I know the indicator should be going down.

All of this wonkiness combined has meant that I have to think about my phone much more than usual. Specifically, I have to think about whether it’s charged, when I might need to charge it, and where I can charge it. I’ve started to bring my charger everywhere and actively scope out places to plug my phone in when I’m not using it, even if the battery seems full. This is a big change for me — I used to carry my charger only on days when I knew I’d be out and using my phone heavily (hello, conference Twitter). Now the first thing I do when I get into my office is plug in my phone, and the same with the classroom where I teach this semester. On a recent train trip I was made somewhat anxious when the train was too full for me to get a window seat adjacent to an outlet and had to sit on the aisle; lucky for me at one of the major stops someone next to a window got off and I was able to change seats. I also sometimes use my laptop to charge my phone now, depending on how long I need to use the laptop.

I realize that this is more detail that you ever needed to know about me and my phone habits. It’s the most minor of inconveniences, really, but the time I spend thinking about dealing with (and then dealing with) my semi-functional phone is time I could spend doing other things, and requires me to work around the technology in ways that I didn’t have to when the phone was fully functional.

This has been on my mind recently as Mariana and I are working on a project about the ways that technology shapes time for our students. Technology can be incredibly useful for our students’ academic work; the student we met during our first round of research several years ago who talked to us about writing her papers on her smartphone on the subway is the example that springs to mind most readily. But if that student has to print her paper to hand it in, and she prints on campus because it’s free (even if she has a printer at home), and there’s a long line or a jam at the printer when she gets to the library, time saved by technology can become time stolen. She is working around the technology rather than having the technology work for her, and there are real implications for her academic work.

These are just some preliminary thoughts as we begin to dig into our project — we’ll share more about this project as we go.

Our Article on Student Technology Use

We are delighted to share that our article about what our research revealed about students’ technology use has been published. This past Monday, EDUCAUSE Review Online published Commuter Students Using Technology. This article expands and elaborates on the technology-specific findings from our study, many of which we’ve spoken about at conferences in the past year or so. Thanks to EDUCAUSE for publishing the article, and please let us know what you think!

CUNY Students’ Technology Stories

We were delighted to present at yesterday’s Teaching & Technology Conference at Baruch College — many thanks to the always awesome Luke Waltzer for inviting us. The other sessions we went to were terrific: I think I will always want to begin a conference morning with pipe cleaners and paper folding, the Baruch students’ who presented were wonderful, and Jim Groom’s keynote was both fun and thought-provoking, an ideal combination (and we appreciate his complementary words about our presentation, too).

We decided to do something a little different this time around and really focus in on individual students, highlighting their experiences with using technology for their academic work as technology stories. We’re happy to share our slides and notes from the presentation — take a look and let us know what you think.

Post-Conference Posting and Wrap-ups

We’ve had a great time presenting at a couple of conferences over the past few weeks, and are delighted to share our presentation materials.

First off was the American Anthropological Association meetings in Chicago, where we participated in a roundtable with colleagues at other institutions who are doing similar work: Andrew Asher of Indiana University, Lesley Gourlay of the University of London, Lori Jahnke of Emory University, and Donna Lanclos of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Our session was titled Embedded and Engaged in Higher Education: Researching Student Entanglements with Technology, and we used a Prezi to highlight some of the images and numbers from our projects. We had a fantastic conversation with session attendees, some of which was captured by Donna in her post-conference writeup and a Storify of the Twitter stream that she created. I also blogged about the session, and especially our interactions with attendees, over at ACRLog.

Just last week we presented at the CUNY IT Conference at John Jay, again talking about what we’ve learned in our research specifically about students and academic technology. Many thanks to all who attended — we were flattered that the session was standing room only! Here are the slides (again via Prezi) and notes from our presentation “It’s an internet phone, but I don’t have internet:” Students Using Technology.

Slides and notes

I’ve just uploaded the slides and notes from our recent presentation at Hunter College’s ACERT Teaching Tuesdays. Many thanks again to all who came to talk with us, it was a great discussion! I’ve also added slides, notes, and our paper from our conference travels last fall: MobilityShifts and the American Anthropological Association meetings. All are available on the Results & Findings page.