March 27, 2014

TEDx says get ready… but keep your device off

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

I’m off to TEDxPhiladelphia tomorrow.  I am ready to be inspired by speakers with solutions to great challenges and innovative ideas.  I have attended and blogged about previous TEDxPhilly and TEDxPhiladelphiaEd events, and I always bring away great stories to share with students.  I have been receiving many emails leading up the event with suggestions that I dress casual, pack light, and then there’s this:

Unplug » Sounds crazy to us, too but the best way to absorb TEDx talks is uninterrupted. The speakers on stage merit your full attention, and laptops, iPads and cell phones are a big distraction – not just for you, but for everyone around you. If you’re a notetaker, bring a paper notepad instead. The use of digital devices in the theater will be restricted to mezzanine seating only. Photography and video in the main theater is not permitted.

This, to me, sends a confusing message – especially when the “T” in TED stands for technology!  The hashtag #TEDxPHL14 has been lighting up Twitter all week, but will apparently go virtually silent tomorrow.  I can’t recall the last conference I attended when the use of technology was discouraged.  And as an educator, I am hearing more and more about technology use in the classroom, with BYOD (that’s Bring Your Own Device) approaches, for example.  In the conference sessions I have attended so far this year, several instructors are suggesting that faculty no longer fight students using their handheld devices, but finding ways of getting students to use their devices during class for focused tasks.

This is going to be and interesting TEDx, and I have to say somewhat disappointing, as I do a much better job typing notes during any talk/session than taking notes by hand (since the surgery on my right wrist, I write slower now).  Hopefully, people at the watch parties outside of the Temple Performing Arts Center will get enough tweets posted so I can go back and fill in the gaps of what I am unable to capture, which will then allow me to share what I have learned with students.