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The Cinema – questioning the context of my survey questions.

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I have been musing over the most appropriate questions to gauge students relationships with pervasive technology and their perceptions of what might be deemed inappropriate usage in a classroom environment. After speaking to a colleague about the term “Alone”, which is often used to depict a state of offline engagement with a situation. For instance, a walk in the park could be experienced offline / alone by leaving any technology at home. Our questioning of the term ‘alone’ brought up the topic of the cinema, social etiquette and the shared experience. Before a film the audience are usually confronted with a demand, “please turn off all mobile phones”. The consequence of this demand spurs the individual to make what at first seems to be such a simple, boolean choice; Turn the phone off or break the rules and leave it on. The options are not so clear. A mobile allows for many different modes or tethered states:

  • OFFLINE – ‘Alone’ to engage in the movie (although not alone in a shared experience of the film). This choice implies a complete disregard for the users tether, which might also suggest the most compliant type of audience for classroom activities. 
  • Aeroplane mode – for when the user doesn’t mind not being online but finds comfort in having the functionality of the phone close to hand.
  • Silent – Can’t function without being online but doesn’t require the instant gratification of vibration alerts.
  • Vibrate – Can’t function without being connected and also shows a dependancy on the instant gratification of the notification system.
  • Normal –  Cant bare to alter there tethered state in order to fully engage in the movie, the environment and other members of the audience.

My questions so far are based solely in the classroom, which after considering the cinema proposition is a massive under site. The students relationship with their devices go well beyond the walls of the classroom so my questions must take this into account. This will also allow me to design a survey that is much more creative and engaging for the students.

One of the main challenges I foresee when it comes to researching the level at which students are dependant / tethered to their technology is deciding what are the signifiers of being alone as aposed to being tethered and how might I begin question this.

An interesting side effect to the new direction of my survey question could be that it provokes students to question there relationship with technology and the identities they maintain using them. This factor has made a real difference in my motivation to really sculpt the questions to be as thought provoking as possible, thus a new found enjoyment for writing survey questions.

So far I have decided that I will be using QuickSurveys to distribute and collate the survey information. I have chosen this service because I believe that is the minimal interface and beautiful design will allow students to breeze through the survey making it less of a chore. I never used the service before but from what i can see they have a really good analytics section to visualise the data. One of the feature I really like is that they allow you to break down the survey into different pages. I am swaying towards using 3 separate pages to distribute my questions over the categories: General digital literacy, tethered in the classroom and tethered in everyday life.