Investigating the Internet & Productivity
(Week 2: Post 1)
Is the Internet Really a Productivity Tool?
Prior to watching the Single-Tasking is the New Multi-Tasking video, I wouldn’t have given much thought to whether the internet was a productivity tool or not. Originally, I probably would have felt like the internet was a useful tool to save time, and to find multiple sources of information in less time than it would be to go to a library, use the catalog system (on the internet) to find a book, and then use somewhat dated information to find what I was looking for. Therefore, I would have considered it to be a pretty useful productivity tool and something that I use often.
Although, after watching the video, I didn’t realize how much time I put towards multi-tasking. I am the WORST for opening tabs, and windows, and using ALT + TAB to jump from one window to the next quickly and easily. I know this drives many people crazy when they look at my screen and see not only the sheer number of windows I have going but then the endless number of tabs. Yes, even that over arrow is usually present to scroll to more tabs that are also open. So inevitably, that begs to ask the question of, am I really being productive?
Well to answer this question, I guess it depends on the individual and what they deem to be productive. Although many people may think that this isn’t the most productive way to do something, I would have to disagree. I find that being able to bounce between tabs and windows to find what I am looking for is usually helpful for me. Could it be more helpful if I would just bookmark the darn things and have less going? For sure. I acknowledge that and I think that I could probably have less going on and be more productive, but right now I find that it is working for me and I am maintaining that status quo. Maybe when I get more adventurous, I will branch out and try it out. That’s a growth mindset, isn’t it?
But like the video, I am off on a tangent that maybe isn’t quite answering the question at hand: Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions? I definitely think it could be both. I mean, I use the internet daily in my teaching and learning, as well as in my personal life to look up quick facts or phone numbers, collaborate with peers, video conference, etc. so I think it is productive in that way. However, I can see the flip side where social media and other tools that are supported by the internet can be very distracting, and often one can find themselves down the rabbit hole of those ‘endless’ distractions. I hear TikTok is a lot like this, another reason for me to stay clear of that distraction, as the little spare time I have lately probably should be spent on many other pressing matters like cleaning the house or doing yard work.
So, I guess I am being indecisive, on choose whether not the internet is solely productive or solely a distraction. I am going to sit on the fence with this one, as I can see that it can be both. I feel like I am being a classic sixth-grader when learner about persuasive writing and trying to choose what stance (or side) I am going to stand on.
Have Productivity Tools Really Made Us Productive?
For the purpose of answering this question, I am going to mainly focus on Google Workplace and Microsoft 365, because this is what our group (Raquel, Deidra, and Allison) presented this week so that I can focus my attention on a few things, rather than the many options that are available. Like Singleton’s article, Microsoft 365 vs Google Workplace—Which is Best for Your Business? I think it comes down to personal choice and preference, or, what is mandated for you to use by your workplace or school division. But that still leaves the question, do these productivity tools and suites really make us more productive?
Again, this doesn’t feel like an answer that is definitely yes or no. I think it depends. Yes, the view up here from the fence I am sitting on is great. All jokes aside, I think that in a society that highly stresses and values productivity these tools are useful. But I disagree with the idealized notion that these productivity suites and tools make a person instantly productive. I think that it also depends on what someone is comfortable with. If you grow up using only Google products, then switch to Microsoft products, that will make a person less productive at first until they learn how to properly use and navigate the new suite. I think that productivity suites are helpful for the enhancement of productivity if implemented strategically and opportunities to learn how to use the suites properly were provided and constantly reviewed and renewed.
Some of the ways (but definitely not limited to the list below) I have found that productivity suites have made me more productive are:
- Lesson and unit planning,
- Sharing resources and not having the reinvent the wheel every time you teach something new or different,
- Making aesthetically appealing documents for personal and professional use,
- Correcting assignments (have you ever read a Grade 6 printed essay? It definitely takes way more time to read, correct and give feedback than if it were word processed),
- Organization of life and school events,
- Communication with peers and parents,
- Making more engaging assignments and presentations,
- Completing and creating forms, and,
- Getting feedback from peers, students, and parents/guardians.
In no way is this a comprehensive list of all the ways that productivity suites have made me more productive. However, what I do realize is that my elementary schooling experience prepared me for the future in the sense that I was taught how to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint very efficiently (Excel too, although I don’t use it often and therefore feel like a rusty nail using it). So I can see how productivity tools can make certainly help a person be productive if they have been taught how to use it and have supports to go to for help (other than Google that is…).
Bates (2019) also discussed productivity, and how in his experience faculty usually react negatively to the concept, “seeing it as industrializing the education process” (p. 42), but further questions something to the effect of wouldn’t it be more helpful to work smarter and not necessarily harder? So with that, I think that productivity tools can help one be more productive in theory, but in practice, it needs to be learned and supported in a multitude of ways. We cannot assume that just because people are using productivity suites that they will instantly catch on, use the tools properly and to the extent that they are intended to be used, and instantly be productive. There is a lot of teaching, learning, and mentorship that continually needs to take place.
If you have some time, check out the article: Schools Leverage Apps and Easy-to-Manage Suites of Learning Tools, as it has some really good ideas about setting educators up for success by building the right infrastructure to support teachers and learners.
Are We Really More Productivie Now than Pre-Internet or Pre-Microsoft/Google?
I think in some ways we are more productive than we were pre-internet/Microsoft/Google, although I am not too sure to what extent. I mean, being able to type up documents and essays is something that would have taken a lot more time previously, so I guess we are more productive in that sense, but I am not too sure how far I would say are more productive than we were before.
I think with the evolution of technology, we may be more productive in some respects than we were before, but I wouldn’t say that 100% we are more productive now than we have ever been. I also have a hard time really speaking to pre-internet and pre-Microsoft/Google as I grew up with these technologies from their infancy to what they are now, and therefore, I am not sure what it was like before they were around. I remember things being less developed than they are today, but I can’t really speak firsthand to what it was like prior. This would definitely be something that I would love to have a discussion about, especially with people that have first-hand knowledge/experience.
Furthermore, this also brings to light productivity vs. efficiency. The Ultimate Guide to Productivity does a good job discussing the similarities and differences between productivity and efficiency as well as what productivity is. I highly recommend reading this article as it has some interesting points. Although it may seem like productivity is more valued than efficiency, or vice versa, I think it is imperative that there needs to be a good combination of both.
Let’s Chat! I’d Love to Hear More About…
Thanks again for reading my blog and hopefully you have been able to pick up on some of my sarcastic tones and know that at times I am joking. But I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to choose one or as many questions as you’d like to answer. Do not feel obligated to answer them all (sorry Mike!).
- Like Singer’s article, in your experience were you drawn to the productivity suite that you used growing up or in your first work experience?
- Do you have first-hand experience pre-internet/Microsoft/Google? If so, do you think we are more, less or equally as productive than before?
- What productivity suite does your workplace use? What are your thoughts on it?
- Do you love, hate or are indifferent about using productivity suites?
4 thoughts on “If I Were Single-Tasking, I’d Turn Off My Phone, Tell Everyone It’s Broken, So They’d Think I Was Multi-Tasking Alone”
Awesome post, but I’m going to stick to your questions as I’m trying my best to comment on everyone. You have a interesting thought on productivity. I think purely from a writing perspective, let’s say I can type ~70wpm. That’s a lot faster than I’d be able to write legibly with pen and paper. I feel like with pen and paper, at least in a rough draft phase of something, I’m more intentional. I need to think a bit more about what I write, because it takes a lot more time to write it. I teach photography courses, and I would compare it to film vs. digital cameras. If you’re shooting film, that film costs a lot more to buy and develop than digital. You need to be careful about what you’re shooting. I could shoot 400-500 crap photos of an event on a memory card. With film, I need to prioritize which moments I’m trying to capture. I may be less productive from a quantity standpoint, but my quality may improve as a result.
Like Singer’s article, in your experience were you drawn to the productivity suite that you used growing up or in your first work experience?
I remember working on Word Perfect back in the day, but I’ve pretty exclusively been a Microsoft Word guy for as long as I can remember. My mother was an office worker who had a lot of knowledge of formatting in Word, so it just made sense to use because should could help me with some of the formatting intricacies that aren’t typically taught at any level of education.
Do you have first-hand experience pre-internet/Microsoft/Google? If so, do you think we are more, less or equally as productive than before?
I first remember the internet coming about in schools around grade 5 or 6. I think we have the capacity to be more productive than ever before given these cloud-based productivity suites. Whether or not we actually are more productive is a difference story, as the internet brings with it a lot of potential distractions.
I think one great example of productivity increase, or at least efficiency increase, it the ability to have documents live for viewers. Katia had the live sign up for presentations. She doesn’t have to email out a new weekly plan every week. She simply adds to what’s already there and it’ll be available for us as students.
What productivity suite does your workplace use? What are your thoughts on it?
Do you love, hate or are indifferent about using productivity suites?
Regina Catholic is on the Microsoft bandwagon. Some of their software have a way to go to catch up with Google, as Google has been in the space longer. Microsoft Teams has seen a ton of improvements with the pandemic and need to be competitive with Zoom, but Excel, Office, and PowerPoint are still lacking some things that I appreciate in the offline versions. I think I appreciate these suites because I have a bit of training in them. For those that don’t, I imagine even basic word processing would take a lot more time and effort and would therefore be a less enjoyable experience.
Incredible, Mike. I am so glad that you popped in and left me your thoughts not only on the blog post but on each question prompt I left. That is amazing. I did go back and edit the post to add in, that you don’t have to answer all of the questions, though, as that’s a ton of extra work on your plate. However, I appreciate that you did, and your thoughtfulness and feedback were very meaningful to me. So thank you for putting in a ton of time that I know you probably don’t have a lot of with your little kiddos at home, and trying to get to everyone’s posts. Your effort has not gone unnoticed.
I too really appreciate using the suites, and I think that it does make me more productive. I do use a combination of both Google and Microsoft, as I don’t love the formatting and fonts with Google Drive and Slides as of yet. Maybe they will come further in the next few years, but for now, I will stick with my formatting love using Microsoft.
Thanks again for stopping in.
This is a great blog – I find it hard to believe that you are newish to it!!
I will try and take on question 4. My answer would be “it’s complicated”. There are certainly many features from productivity suites (say Microsoft Office) that I find very useful on a day-to-day basis. Being able to back up documents, access them from nearly anywhere in the world, word processing, and synced calendars to name a few (there are many more to be sure). The complicated piece comes in with my belief that the providers of these suites need to be under a watchful eye, Their best interests are not necessarily the same as what is best for society, ourselves, or the students that we teach. My concern is that the providers of these productivity suites have their eyes set on replacing the human aspect of teaching, and perhaps even the teacher as well. Trying not to get too long-winded, I think that society is becoming more individualistic as opposed to community-minded by the day. I am scared to think about what would happen if we were to lose the public, community-minded, what is best for society approach that we have in public education to a private content consumption-based one.
Sorry for the tangent – my feelings are very mixed! Thanks for posing the question(s)!
Hey Chris, although I tried to blog almost a decade ago (or maybe even more now), I was never great at it and didn’t find that it met the needs of what I wanted it to. I appreciate your tangent. I too think that building a sense of community doesn’t seem to be as present as it once was. However, with saying that, I didn’t grow up in the city and maybe this is how it has always been in the city? Not sure… but I do think that building community is important and the importance of it is going to be something that is taught in the future and no longer inherited. Hopefully, there is a way for us as educators to model building community, and teach students why it matters. Thanks again for stopping in!