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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Value of Paper In a Digital World

One of the things that I mention in my keynote Leading Students In a Hyper-connected World is the need to teach students the value of occasionally disconnecting from the web to focus on the completion of a task. A few years ago I heard Chris Brogan sum this up nicely by saying "paper doesn't have a new browser window." In other words, doing something on paper creates a good obstacle to distracting yourself by checking Facebook, email, or doing some other non-essential task.

Chris made his comment in the context of planning and task management. I apply that comment to the process of brainstorming and or reflecting. Taking the time to read a book, to write some ideas on paper, or to simply go for a walk give out brains time to wonder and develop new-to-us ideas without the distraction of digital input. My best stretches of blogging always come after I have taken a couple of hours to brainstorm a week or more worth of blog post topics.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of the digital brainstorming and project management tools that we have available to us. There is a time for using those, but there is also a time for not using digital tools too. As our students grow up in a hyper-connected world, it is will be increasingly important to take the time to teach them when being connected might not be the best choice.