Sunday, April 25, 2010

Digital distractions and learning

Nowadays, attend any conference or event, and you will note that several people have their laptops open in front of them, as if it were acceptable to stare into a screen, while a speaker presents on stage.

People busy fiddling with their mobile phones at any business meeting you attend seems to have become acceptable too!

This resembles a cultural shift in social behaviour, and frankly it seems appears that our attention is divided, while the people seeking our attention are being offended.

As a culture, the human race are now at a crossroads, and new rules emerging from universities in the United States and Europe demonstrate a realization that there’s a problem. Professors are now demanding that their students turn off their devices and put away the laptops.

In fact, some universities have decided to turn off the internet access in classrooms!

As it it turns out, the PC as an educational tool has now become a distraction. Different people will have different levels of discipline and attention. You simply can’t count on the majority of students to stick to academic uses of their computers and smartphones in a classroom.

A professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, knew her students weren't all paying attention in class. She carried out a quick study, simply by comparing the grades of students who used laptops in class with those of the students who didn't. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education in the United States, she informed the students after their first exam that they scored 11 percent lower than their counterparts without laptops.

It is absolutely understandable that teachers now have no tolerance for students surfing the Web or playing games in class. And maybe a ban should be extended to business meetings, training workshops and seminars. As for conferences, well, maybe they can be an exception if they’re all day affairs.

But schools, universities and training centers should go back to being places of focused learning.

Honestly, if you had a PC in front of you in a lecture, wouldn’t you be distracted by all the MSN chat, Gmail, Skype, TweetDeck alerts? Of course you would. Will you learn anything if you don’t pay attention? You probably won’t. Turn every digital device off, and turn on your brain. It’s the only device you’ll really need!

zanasser@gmail.com

9 Comments:

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This resembles a cultural shift in social behaviour, and frankly it seems appears that our attention is divided, while the people seeking our attention are being offended.

 
At 3:53 PM , Anonymous Best Grills 2012 said...

I don't agree that its a distraction as you say in your article and in order to evoluate we'll need eventualy to stop writting whith pens and pencils.

 

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