Technology and multitasking

This week’s reading is about attention and multitasking in class. I really like the article “The Myth of the disconnected life” as it reflects the facts in our daily life. It mentions how it is necessary and helpful to disconnect from internet, cellphone for sometime and spend more time with family and people around us. I can see how it’s the same for students in the classroom, they should disconnect from the facebook, wechat or whatever on the internet and focus on the class content.

I agree with the author’s opinion, however,  I think technology is just the surface level of the multitasking issue in class, we need to address the deeper factors. In my opinion, technology is not the causal factor of multitasking or distracting factor in class or in our lives, instead, it should be a useful tool. For instance, for students who are studying in places far away from their family, technology is an important way for them to connect with their family.  They rely on the internet or cellphones to spend time with their family or friends who are far away. In this case, disconnect from technology may mean less contact with their family. For people with family  around, they can use technology to improve their quality of life and the time they spend together.

Similarly, for students who use laptop during class time, the information they get from internet might be more interesting or useful than the lecture that the instructor gives. From my own experience, I have been students for so many years, I have met professors who require no technology in the classroom and professors who allow technology or encourage technology use in the classroom, the key factor of technology use in the classroom is not the instructors’ rules, but the quality of class. In a boring class, even though the instructor bans the use of technology, the students will do something else, such as drawing pictures, reading novels, sleep, or chatting with neighbors in writing. On the contrary, when the class is interesting and engaging, the students are active in learning and they will stop browsing the internet. In the article Students Stop Surfing After Being Shown How In-Class Laptop Use Lowers Test Scores, the author talked about how effective when the professor showed students laptop use in class lowered test scores,  when I worked as a teaching assistant, the professor I worked for used this strategy, and I could tell that it was effective for a while, but it was not the problem solver.

The findings ” media multitaskers pay mental price”  showed by Stanford study was a surprise for me, I didn’t know this before, but the article and the study do make sense and it is very convincing. I guess I’ll show the findings of this study to my students next semester!


4 thoughts on “Technology and multitasking”

  1. Thank you Yujun for sharing. It is interesting to know that the professor you worked with made the students know that the usage of laptop in classroom lowers that test scores and this strategy did not last very long. It may due to that the lowering of scores is not significant or horrible, or the entertainment on laptop is too attractive.

  2. It’s a great post! I totally agree with you about multitasking and teaching. Here, I just want add something. Use of electronic device actually increase the possibilities of that students get distracted. Learner-centered teaching need communication as basis. Sometimes, students do not want to be distracted by information other than teaching. But human nature is that we are easily distracted by something salient in the environment. Laptop and cellphone are these salient stimuli in the classroom. So I understand that some teachers forbid their students to use electronic device in the classroom.

  3. Great post! I believe technology has its place in the classroom, but with it comes with advantages and disadvantages. I think technology to some extent is helpful, but harmful to learning as well if misused. Finding a balance with the use of technology, instruction, and learning goals would assist with appropriate times to incorporate technology into the lesson.

    So, perhaps the instructor could make connections with activities or in-class assignments using technology from a social integration approach, so that students are more engaged and not off-task or to provide students with more autonomy and empowerment, the instructor could allow the students to select activities or assignments to incorporate technology within reason. I can understand both stances in regards technology.

    Thanks for sharing!

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