Feeling Like I Can’t Keep Up

Do you ever feel like you just can’t keep up? At work, at home, in the digital world, in life? Like. you are just barely keeping your head above water?


That’s kind of how I feel right now, especially in the digital world. There’s blogs (both personal and for this class) to keep up with, Gmail (both personal and work), Google+, Facebook, Moodle, RSS readers, texting (Facebook messenger, Viber, WhatsApp), Twitter, etc. These are all apps that I could check on a daily basis. How do you keep up with it all? And why?

One of our readings for this week, Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age, discusses the concept of participatory learning, which is described as,

“how we can learn together from one another’s skills.”


I LOVE this concept, and it is something that I am constantly striving to incorporate into my teaching practice. Two of my colleagues and I recently presented a learning session to some other teachers at our school about group test taking, which exemplifies this concept of participatory learning. You can find our presentation in the following Google Slides.

We first learned about group test taking, also known as peer instruction, after watching a video (similar to the one below) about Eric Mazur in one of our faculty meetings. After watching the video, my first thought was, “GROUP test taking? No way! That’s cheating! I would never do that.” And not even a few months later, some of my colleagues and I are making it a regular practice in our classroom.

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In a nutshell, our students take an individual test first, and then they take that same test in a small group. The group test is a win-win – students that missed questions on the individual test learn from their mistakes immediately, and students that did well on the individual test get that confirmation as well as getting experience teaching this content to their peers. Their final score is a combination of the individual and group tests. This is an example of “cognitive surplus” – also mentioned in this week’s article, Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age. Cognitive surplus as defined in the article is,

“more than the sum of the parts form of collaborative thinking that happens when groups think together online”

AWESOME! But back to my anxiety about feeling like I can’t keep up. I am going to be honest…I have yet to respond to ANY of the comments that have been posted to my COETAIL blog. Other people have so graciously spent their time to reply to my posts, give me feedback, and seem like they genuinely care about the questions I’ve posed on my blog. And it’s not that I don’t care, but I am feeling like my digital life is quite overwhelming. There is a lot of sharing, or collaborative learning, on the internet, but I’m feeling like I’m being more of a “lurker,” as referenced in an article from week one’s reading, Reach. A lurker is someone who is there just watching and learning.

I want my digital world to be more collaborative where I am getting information, but also responding to and sharing information with others like I require my students do in my classroom. This task of collaborating (not just taking information), sometimes, seems insurmountable.

Do you check and/or update your blogs, Gmail, Google+, Facebook, Moodle, RSS reader, texts, Twitter, etc. everyday, every week, every month? How do you manage it all? I need some serious tips! I warmly welcome your comments below.

2 thoughts on “Feeling Like I Can’t Keep Up

  1. Pamela-
    I haven’t done the reading yet from Collaborative Learning in a Digital Age, but I wanted to respond to your post with several comments.

    1) Me Too! Me Too! Me Too! How are people, not just COETAIL members, finding the time to do all their wonderful blogging, texting, posting, writing, linking, and reading, plus working, and don’t forget living? I am not one who can answer your question regarding management of time and effort. I am the one begging for the comments you will receive from these successful people. When I grow up I desperately want to be them. I will be vigilant with monitoring what readers post as their management tips on your blog.

    2) I was one of the lucky members who attended your “Test Your Boundaries” workshop. And even though I had heard about Eric Mazur from a workshop with Alan November, it is the repetition of hearing his ideas again that stuck with me. I really enjoyed going through the process your students do when taking a test. Having an expert then make sure that we understood each concept, since we would be held accountable, was a great incentive for paying attention.

    Due to your workshop, my formative assessment on Wednesday is going to be ‘crowdsourced’. (Yes, I went back to read Cathy Davidson’s article). I am looking forward to seeing how students are going to look at this type of assessment and gauge their reactions for learning.

    3) Yes, I am feeling overwhelmed by the wealthy of information I am being exposed to right now. I want to be conscious enough to implement what I read but with so much information to digest it can be distressing. For me, it is like going to too many workshops and not having any down time to digest or discuss.

    But I enjoying the ride now that I am on the horse. I just want to quit the jolting trotting and move into the smooth cantor.

  2. Hi Pam,
    Thank you for sharing your presentation as well as Manzur’s video, about group testing. I have never heard of this practice, but as you note, it makes perfect sense. Students understand their own learning and concepts, they improve their grades, learn from each other and better understand how working in a group leads to better results. Wow! I feel shocked that this hasn’t always been the norm in the educational setting.

    I understand your anxieties with social medias. Though I try to keep up, I feel like I am pushing myself to do so. It does not come naturally to me to grab a device and jump from forum to forum contributing to online networks. I have learned so much from them and am willing to contribute because I see how new ideas and ways of thinking have been enriching to my learning, but I am still feeling burnt out by the juggle of work, family and online time. When did this become such a big part of my day?

    The age old advice rings true to me- BALANCE. If I gave up my online time I wouldn’t learn so many new and innovate practices (Group Testing-hello). But I also need to relax after work and be with my family and my thoughts. I am aiming to be more immediate with my responses to comments and messages, because that has been an area I lack in. I have noticed one thing that has helped me a lot- new to me, not likely to the rest of the world, but I will still share. It’s called Phone Notifications :). These handy things are always letting me know who’s contacting me in what app and I am able to get back to people in my down time, like riding in the car. I used to put it all aside until I got home and sat at my computer, and now I’m communicating on the go and I don’t feel so overwhelmed by all the online demands that mount on my plate.
    Hope it helps!

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