Tuesday, 22 March 2011


There were these long lectures on how students shouldn't multitask but pay attention and focus on the lesson taking place so often during class time wherby I, the deliverer of these lectures got bored with them too. So the problem called for a solution and it was newly designed task that involved the least use of technology, with all electronic gadgets to be kept in their school bags. This was taken up with reasonable surprise as the students in their senior school year in a personal laptop learning environment were only too familiar with the technology tools for learning.

The new assignment began a week ago and it was a reasonable success. My hope is that the change in the class attitude continues. I know that my own motivation level has changed as I observed that students participated a lot more because they were fewer distractions around them. I hope to share my thoughts of the learners and the learning process. The lesson was on 'motivation' and what a paradox that the teacher herself was on a low motivation level, having reminded students repeatedly to stay focused. Thus the inspiration and the creation of this blog: MUSINGS OVER LEARNERS AND LEARNING.

No Technology in Brightonphoto © 2008 Sammy0716 | more info (via: Wylio)

The Problem: Multitasking during a senior school class time, well web surfing during a humanities lesson on motivation and ....oh, at times participating in the class discussion too, along with taking notes written on the white board)

Is this really a problem? Or just my illusion that it is a problem? The students were definitely learning something but I wasn't satisfied with the learning process. I do believe that their learning curve would have been much steeper if they had not been multitasking.

The students were listening and participating and web surfing during lesson time. Or perhaps not web surfing but on Face book, or watching a video or listening to music. Couple of the students were like fish to the water, they would stop on correction and even before their brains could alert their minds, and their hands would be back multitasking.

I am convinced through my own educational experience, that the knowledge and understanding gained in such a manner is short lived. But obviously the students don't seem to care about this or are oblivious to this or just find it difficult to discipline themselves.

What do researchers say?

"People can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves," said neuroscientist Earl Miller. And, he said, "The brain is very good at deluding itself."
Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can't focus on more than one thing at a time.

What do my students say?

By show of hands, of a class in question with nineteen students, more than half of them raised their hands to say that minus the technology tool, the laptop in particular, that their grades would be way better.

But then again, are grades really a measure of a student's success?

Being in their senior year, filling in University admission forms, those grades do play an important role. If these grades were so important to the students, why wouldn't they pay more focused attention in class? Is it just lack of self discipline or a matter of making right choices? Yes, helping students making right choices is part of the class agenda while the class discusses motivational theory.

What do I say?

For a week's time, I have decided that the class can do away with mobiles, laptops, iPods etc and go back to conventional learning, yes the good old pen and paper way of learning. Mind you, I am all for embracing technology and technology tools but am not convinced that it must be used at all times. Perhaps I would permit only the use of the word processor in the collaborative group assignment by one of the group members of the assignment group as Google docs just empowers the sharing and contribution process of learners. Besides, it would make it so much easier for the students to edit their work.

It’s to be seen how effective this experimentation really has been. We’ll soon come to know.