Students think they can multitask. Here’s proof they can’t. — from Faculty Focus by Maryellen Weimer




With easy access to all sorts of technology, students multitask. So do lots of us for that matter. But students are way too convinced that multitasking is a great way to work. They think they can do two or three tasks simultaneously and not compromise the quality of what they produce. Research says that about 5% of us multitask effectively. Proof of the negative effects of multitasking in learning environments is now coming from a variety of studies.

The question is, how do we get students to stop? We can tell them they shouldn’t. We can include policies that aim to prevent it and devote time and energy trying to implement them. I wonder if it isn’t smarter to confront students with the facts. Not admonitions, but concrete evidence that multitasking compromises their efforts to learn. The specifics are persuasive and here are some examples to share with students.


From DSC:
If you can’t beat ’em, join em! 🙂   I vote for having students use such devices in achieving the same learning outcomes/objectives that you normally would like the students to cover.  That is, to integrate the technologies that they are so engaged with — if possible.  But I like Maryellen’s thought about just confronting them with the facts — that if they choose to “multitask,” they will significantly reduce their ROI that they’re making in their education.



There is no substitute for the real thing — from the Educational Origami blog


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From Daniel Christian: Fasten your seatbelts! An accelerated ride through some ed-tech landscapes.

From DSC:
Immediately below is a presentation that I did for the Title II Conference at Calvin College back on August 11, 2011
It is aimed at K-12 audiences.


Daniel S. Christian presentation -- Fasten your seatbelts! An accelerated ride through some ed-tech landscapes (for a K-12 audience)


From DSC:
Immediately below is a presentation that I did today for the Calvin College Fall 2011 Conference.
It is aimed at higher education audiences.


 Daniel S. Christian presentation -- Fasten your seatbelts! An accelerated ride through some ed-tech landscapes (for a higher ed audience)


Note from DSC:

There is a great deal of overlap here, as many of the same technologies are (or will be) hitting the K-12 and higher ed spaces at the same time. However, there are some differences in the two presentations and what I stressed depended upon my audience.

Pending time, I may put some audio to accompany these presentations so that folks can hear a bit more about what I was trying to relay within these two presentations.

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Forget what you know about good study habits — from the NY Times by Benedict Carey

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam. But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.

“With many students, it’s not like they can’t remember the material” when they move to a more advanced class, said Henry L. Roediger III, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s like they’ve never seen it before.”

When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far, far longer. An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found.

No one knows for sure why. It may be that the brain, when it revisits material at a later time, has to relearn some of what it has absorbed before adding new stuff — and that that process is itself self-reinforcing.

From DSC:

Re: research on learning styles…I would really like to know if these students were interviewed/reviewed in terms of which methods they preferred to learn by…which methods made learning more interesting…more fun..more efficient.

I’ll bet you “good students” can learn in spite of a variety of obstacles, issues, and/or teaching methods…they’ll learn what they need to in order to get the grade.

  • But which method(s) do they — as well as less “successful” students — prefer?
  • Which methods produce a longer-term ROI (besides just making it past the mid-term or final exam)?
  • Which method(s) are more engaging to them?
  • Which method(s) take less time for them to absorb the material?

We want students to love learning…but if you don’t like something, you surely won’t love it.

From DSC:
Which question is dead? This one:

Where is the return on investment in all of this technology?

Through the last several decades, as we’ve invested in PCs, Macs, cabling/telecommunications infrastructure, wireless access points, LANs, servers, routers, etc…the question kept being asked, “Where’s the return on investment with all of this technology?”

To me, that question is being put to rest once and for all (at least in terms of those sets of technologies.) Why? Because that infrastructure is the foundation of an ever-growing, sprawling, network of connections that people are using more and more to communicate, socialize, learn, and grow. Sure, there are downsides to the Internet, but there are many upsides as well:

  • You want a lesson plan? It’s out there.
  • You want to hear a lecture on topic A, B, or C? It’s out there and able to start playing on your PC, Mac, iPhone, etc. in seconds
  • You need to find directions to place XYZ? As you know, a huge timesaver can be found in services like Mapquest or with GPS-enabled services.
  • You want to take a break and watch a show? It’s on your PC or Mac in a short period of time.
  • You want to quickly orchestrate an event to catch up with a group of your friends? No problem.

I could go on and on, but you get my point: We are at the embryonic stages of an explosion in innovation that is now possible due to the Internet and the blazingly-fast exchanges of information. Surely, there has been an excellent ROI here!

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