Going Analog

13 Feb

So I’m a big fan of technology. I own a lot of it. I have a smartphone, a work laptop, a personal laptop/tablet convertible, a work tablet, and two gaming consoles. That does not include the two laptops and two desktop PCs that live in my house and were mine that I no longer turn on but have not yet gotten rid of.

I blog (in two places!). I write for someone else’s blog. I run a WordPress website for a local circus company. I have Facebook and two Twitter accounts (personal and work) and Instagram. I know about several other social media platforms that I don’t use. I’ve been on Slack and Outlook and I’m old enough to have used LiveJournal and Prodigy and AOL and learned basic html for my personal website on Netscape in college.

I read ebooks on my Kindle app and my Nook app. I have multiple PDF readers, full Adobe, and a hand-writing conversion app on my tablet/laptop. I would cry if I had to write using a typewriter (I’ve had a word processing program since I was FOUR years old), although I have done it (and do own one). I have many emails across multiple platforms.

I am also a die-hard analog researcher. This is not to say that I don’t use online databases or scans of my primary documents (because I do and I LOVE them). Zotero is one of the best things that ever happened to my research. But I draft most of my papers, books, and proposals by hand (on paper, with a pen) before I type them up. I prefer hard copies of books for research that I can write in (as long as they aren’t from the library), and I like to print out articles to do the same (although I’ve been using more PDF readers because I also like the environment). When I edit, I do it by hand on printed copies.

So this semester, I decided to go back to teaching analog, too. I do use Blackboard (even though I absolutely hate it) to give students feedback (grades) and to collect most assignments, but if my students want to turn in their work in hard copy, they can (except long papers, because I use Word’s Review function with customized grading macros to grade). I use Xmind and Argunet for mind-mapping and argument mapping, but students can also draw them out by hand.

But what I really mean is that I have printed out all the readings, put them in a binder, and I take notes and write up lesson plans by hand. For years now I’ve been doing this in Word, then printing them and taking them to class–and then re-using those files from year to year. But, as it turns out, writing out my lesson plans by hand is forcing me to do exactly what I’ve asked my students to do by taking notes by hand (in class–they can take reading notes however they want): I’m forcing myself to slow down and think seriously about what is important and what order I want to use to present it. Whether the ultimate outcome for my students is different (I’d like to think it is, even if only a little, because I’m being more thoughtful about the process), I’m not sure, but it certainly makes it all more deliberate, and that can’t be a bad thing.

So, I love technology, but sometimes analog is totally the way to go.