Learning and Multi-tasking

I’m working on a presentation for students and parents about the use of Chat, and I’d like to include information for this article about how multi-tasking could have a negative affect on learning and focusing on new material.

It’s a fairly straight-forward report about how multi-tasking reduces one’s ability to focus on and retain new material (such as Shakespeare or Calculus), and draws into question the ability to run four or five chat windows while doing homework. Near the end, it also notes that this is similar to how our ability to drive a car can be negatively affected by holding a phone conversation at the same time.

If I’m not mistaken, this is related to research that suggests that similar areas of the brain (such as the language center) can thread but not parallel process, meaning that our minds can time-slice relatively quickly, but the actual effectiveness of the tasks is reduced.

As for chat in the classroom, I think there are some caveats to this. If a teacher is logged into the same chat session as the students, chat can be used as a way to post questions or even hand-in assignments as a class period progresses. Side conversations about different topics shouldn’t be allowed, but a textual representation of the student’s questions and ideas may be a way of representing and focusing their thought instead of distracting them. Personally, I have always used writing to put down and organize my thoughts, so my type of learning and focus is increased by the tool. As I type this, I don’t feel like I’m multitasking.

As for chat during homework, it’s clear that there could be definite problems. If a chat during a specific type of homework were held, with students communicating with other students doing the same homework, would this be any more distracting that the typical give-and-take of a homework group at school? If we sit in a room and discuss the calculus as we work on it, that could be considered a type of multitasking, but it would appear to be beneficial.

As I listed to tapes of Shakespeare performances in the college library as an undergrad, the one thing that I really missed was being able to stop the tape and discuss the literature with someone as I listened (to find out if my ideas were crap or not). I guess if we became too extreme, all dialog could be considered multi-tasking and therefore “distracting.”

Feel free to distract me with comments… :)

3 visitors online now
0 guests, 3 bots, 0 members
Max visitors today: 7 at 02:17 am UTC
This month: 9 at 09-20-2017 05:23 pm UTC
This year: 38 at 05-27-2017 07:36 am UTC
All time: 84 at 05-06-2013 07:12 am UTC