Sunday, July 12, 2020

An Internet Post About Problematic Internet Posts

I don’t want to be a screen time sergeant. I don’t want to be a screen time snob. 

I do think screens are a problem. I am just not sure which genre of problem. Naturally, I couldn’t help making a table. 

A Problematic Table of Problems, Educationally Speaking

Well Structure Problem

Ill-Structured Problem

Wicked Problem

Suggested Name 

Overly structured


Nah. Wicked is a great name. 

My take

One answer, convergent.

Necessary but not the end goal. 

Variable and divergent.
Requires flexibility. 

The reason behind solving any problem in the first place.

Hot take

Gradual release without ever releasing. 

Rapid release of responsibility?

It’s the deep end, kids. 

My District Lingo



Transfer. But like, ultra transer. 

Over simplified educational paradigm alignment

Traditional, however it’s unfair to say all traditional teaching only amounts to well structured problems. 

Project Based Learning

Initiative Based Learning?

Because Math


What percentage of students/2nd graders/general public believe that 42 is the meaning of life?

Why do so many people think they “suck at math” once they graduate from the 6th grade? Hat tip Math Needs Makeover.

I am newly fascinated by the categorization of problems- specifically re-enamored with wicked problems. I believe our entire place based and integrated curriculum we’ve been working on for the past few years is trending towards “wicked-based-learning” and that makes me very happy. In any event, back to screens. 

Being tasked with the ill dandily-structured problem of choosing an ill-structured problem in education, I’ve chosen screen time in no small part because I am figuring out whether or not I have a personal problem. 

[Checks phone app usage dashboard.]


I wonder if my students have been outside lately?

I wonder if my teaching needs more low-tech time with things like sticky notes, whiteboards, eye contact, and plywood and drills?

Why do my own young kids seem to become whiny little zombies after they use the iPad?

Wait, why do I become a whiny slightly larger zombie when I finally pull away from the endless scroll in which I didn’t actually find anything that brought joy and satisfaction to my life?

I did some research. Lots of scientific papers. Few definitives. I chose this one (three cheers for open access!). They focused on “sedentary behavior” as related to screen time, and no surprise, it seems less than healthy. Another study used the term “problematic internet use” which was, no surprise, hard to define but again less than healthy. Maybe the balance of screen time falls into the wicked problem category? Maybe it calls for an inversion of wicked to wisdom?

But never fear, the beloved, gentle giant has a solution (oh the irony), Digital Well Being. I made a screencast. 

Do screen time metrics help me redeem unhealthy internet time and problematic usage? Would it help my students? I think it’s worth exploring. Wang, X., Li, Y.; Fan, H. (2019). The associations between screen time-based sedentary behavior and depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health, 19(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-019-7904-9 Gao, L., Gan, Y., Whittal, A.; Lippke, S. (2020). Problematic Internet Use and Perceived Quality of Life: Findings from a Cross-Sectional Study Investigating Work-Time and Leisure-Time Internet Use. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(11), 4056. doi:10.3390/ijerph17114056

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