Unplugged – The follow-up

Categories: Education, Science & Tech, Work
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In my class students have a choice of two from four possible assignments to do throughout the semester. And I certainly enjoy grading two of them more than I enjoy grading the other two. They’re just more interesting.

The first assignment asks the students to try out the theories of classical and operant conditioning on themselves. They need to pick a behavior, decide if they want to increase it or decrease it, how they will reinforce it, and what stimuli they will add to increase it or subtract to decrease it. Conventional wisdom says it takes three weeks or so to develop a habit. My students are only asked to try it for five days. It is always so interesting to see what they choose and how they try to do it.

For the second assignment they have to list twenty behaviors they do in a single day and then analyze why they did them, what was their motivation, and were they intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to do them.

On my own I’ve had some success with these reflections. I now take a multi-vitamin daily because I changed the stimuli. It is next to my cereal and so when I pull out the cereal I also pull out the vitamin. I used to keep them in the bathroom with the medications. I never took vitamins then. And for the first month I reinforced the behavior by putting a check mark on a chart. Sticker charts do work for adults too.

Both of these assignments relate to my unplugged week last week.

To stop logging in to networks and forums I had to change the stimulus. I removed the “boredom” stimulus and replaced it with my to-do list and printed books to read. The reinforcer was intrinsic. It was real hard the first few days to remove that stimulus. But within the week I no longer felt that pull to constantly be logging in. I guess it really doesn’t take three weeks to create or break a habit. Hooray for behaviorism!

Now I’m in this week. I’ve logged into the forums and networks this week. But I find myself constantly questioning why. Why do I go there so often? Why do I care? What is my motivation? And I’ve decided that as long as I’m asking those questions, or as long as I don’t like the answers, it probably isn’t the best place for me to be. Not that forums and networks are bad places, they do have their place. But I have limited resources, and do I want to be spending them there if I don’t know why?

Some reasons I do like them are for keeping in touch with people. I like that. But I’ve also realized I don’t need to be a constant presence in everyone’s life and they don’t need to be a constant presence in mine. I like them for the support I can find from people around the country, and sometimes even the globe, who have the same interests as me or are going through the same experiences as me. Those are definitely good reasons for on-line interactions and why I will continue to participate.

But if I’m online just to toot my metaphorical horn or to see how many people are paying attention to me, talking to me, looking at me, well, I have better things to do than perform for everyone.

So I will be using the internet as I need it or as I am needed. But those needs must be motivated by something other than simply a need to “see and be seen.”

8 shared thoughts about Unplugged – The follow-up

  1. Mom says:

    Dad wants to know what the other two assignments are. This sound interesting. :tractor:

  2. Giggles says:

    For one assignment they have to watch 1.5 hours, at least two episodes, of a tv show geared towards adolescents. Then they have to pick one of the characters and analyze them based on the developmental theories of Freud, Piaget, and Erikson. They see if where that character is age wise matches with where the theorists say they should be and if they aren’t want that means.

    The other assignment asks them to develop a lesson based on Information Processing Theory. They have to address issues of attention, rehearsal, encoding, and retrieval.

    So there are two assignments that are more personal reflection and two that aren’t for those who don’t want to do that type of self-analysis.

  3. Mom says:

    So… even in your assignments you are being a good teacher. :heart:

  4. Brett says:

    Inexplicably, I am all of a sudden presented with the same stimulus. A bottle of multivitamins is in front of my cereal every morning. (It works surprisingly well.) :brett:

  5. Heidi Aphrodite says:

    I determined not to turn my computer on yesterday, and after a short nap (and Skyping on the netbook with the niblings) and a visit from our home teachers, I read :book: for over two hours. Out on the back porch, in the lovely warm late afternoon :sun:, and then in our red and blue living room under the friendly glow of a lamp. Later, I altered some pants and put some things away.

    It felt great.

    Thank goodness I checked my email on my phone before bed, though, because I found out we have publicity shots for my show tonight… 😉

  6. Giggle

    I turned on my home compy for the first time in a week and a half last night, so that I could Skype with my family and write my weekly letter. I chatted a little, read a few blogs, and then compy went back off. It’s nice to not have to be online ALL the time. Though I did still check in fairly often with my iPhone, at least it wasn’t aimless surfing!

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