My Rules of Tech

When I was in high school, Mr. Haser was one of my favorite teachers. Mixed between his lessons on chemical bonding and electron configuration, Mr. Haser would blend in lessons about life. Through the course of the academic year, he introduced three self-proclaimed Haser’s laws. While it’s been over thirty years since I sat in Mr. Haser’s chemistry class, I can still recall each of his “laws.”

Haser’s first law: Hot glass looks like cold glass.
Haser’s second law: Your neighbor is dumber than you.
Haser’s third law: When in doubt, tell the truth.

While Haser’s first law is definitely subject specific, his other laws focus more on navigating the world honestly and with purpose.

In the spirit of Haser’s laws, I offer my Rules of Technology. While I’ve shared all of these in a class or presentation at some point, they’re not meant to solve all of your technological ills.  Instead, they offer some lighthearted advice for navigating your digital life. If you have a technological rule to share, feel free to write a comment below.

Technology Rule #1: Technology will break your heart. If not today, someday soon. You know the scenario. You have a major assignment due or you’re finishing some big project. And then… your computer crashes and you lose everything. When we least expect it or need it, our hard drives fail and our Internet goes down. Rule #1 communicates the personal toll that technology can play on our lives and echoes that age-old adage: Save and save often.

Technology Rule #2: Focus on being effective. You can work on perfection after that. This is my take on “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Don’t stress over selecting the best PowerPoint slide color or the best font. Craft an effective message that clearly articulates your objectives. If you’re creating some instructional materials, make sure it effectively supports student learning. You can work on perfection after that.

Technology Rule #3: Almost everybody hates the sound of their recorded voice. This is actually somewhat research-based. Because of the structure of our inner ear, we hear our voices differently live than when we hear it through a recording. I offer this for all of those instructors who record screencasts for their students. Unless you’re William Shatner or Alex Trebek, you’re probably going to cringe when you hear your voice. It’s okay. You’re just like the rest of us.

Technology Rule #4: Wait to send that email! You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. You’ve just received some snarky email from a student or a colleague and you’ve spent fifteen emotionally charged minutes crafting the perfect response. Wait. Just wait. Save the email to draft and review it tomorrow. With some time, you can evaluate whether you still feel the same way.

Technology Rule #5: Shut it off. Take a few minutes and shut off your phone and power down your laptop. Go take a walk or ride your bike. Our lives have become so digitally complex that we’re almost always connected. Shut it off. Some readers are probably worried that they’ll miss something important. Others are probably thinking how boring life would be without all of these devices. But research is emerging that shows that boredom can foster creativity and innovation, which is never a bad thing.

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