Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ultimate Distraction Devices

This year our district is integrating a 1:1 iPad program, and is southwest Ohio's first public school district to do so. I am blessed to teach at Reading Community City Schools where our leadership found a way to make it possible for us to integrate technology into our classroom, and use technology in everyday instruction. I enjoy to learn through technology myself.

There are numerous resources available to help teachers prepare our students to use the various educational functions and tools iPads offer (thanks Jerry - @cybraryman!), as well as suggestions for integrating iPads into the classroom for the first time. The new application from Common Sense Media Graphite even allows educators to search for educator evaluated applications and technology resources with advanced search settings. I also like the latest post by Edutopia, Back to School with iPads: 5 Steps for the First 5 days

The goal of this post is to share the information from a presentation I made to my students about the how technology can be destructive to the learning process if it is not used appropriately. As one of my students said last year in reference to my laptops, these things are "A.D.D. devices." If we are not careful, and do not integrate metacognition skills in the integration of our technology devices, he could be correct.

I spent quite a bit of time this summer reading about how technology impacts learning, and here are the key "watch-outs" I felt most important to share with the kids. 

College students were asked to watch a 30-minute videotaped lecture. Some were sent eight text messages. Others were sent four or zero text messages. What the research found was...
  • Those who were interrupted more often scored worse on a test of the lecture’s content. 
  • Those who responded to the experimenters’ texts right away scored significantly worse than those participants who waited to reply until the lecture was over.
15 minute observations by Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University–Dominguez Hills found that...
  • Students’ “on-task behavior” was disrupted 2 minutes in, mainly responding to texts or checking Facebook. 
  • Students only spent 65 percent of the observation period actually doing their schoolwork. 
St. John’s University found through observation 58 percent of second- and third-year law students who had laptops in class were using them for “non-class purposes” more than half the time. The University of Vermont found that “students engage in substantial multitasking behavior with their laptops and have non-course-related software applications open and active about 42 percent of the time.” Technology has been cited in various studies as a distraction for surrounding students.

Checking social media/text messages draw on the same mental resources demanded by schoolwork. Under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time.
  • Multitasking “can happen only when the two tasks are both very simple and when they don’t compete with each other for the same mental resources.”
  • There is a “lag” when switching from one task to the other.
  • Listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook uses the same area of the brain (prefrontal cortex).
Dropping and picking up mental threads leads to damaged mental threads and more mistakes.
  • Students’ subsequent memory of what they’re working on will be impaired if their attention is divided.
  • When we are distracted our brains process and store information differently, in less useful ways.
  • Multitasking with technology leads to “decision fatigue”.
These distractions are also real for adults, so this is a lifelong learning lesson for the students. Technology is a part of the 21st century labor force. Using technology effectively and efficiently, such as an iPad, is essential in the modern world if used as an empowering tool free of distractions. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm recommending this blog to my students! The research clearly demonstrates that sustained attention to the task in hand is often far superior to divided attention and competing distractions. Exponents of connected learning need to heed the downside of a networked classroom environment - more tech may damage the process of learning rather than enhancing it.