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.


  1. I feel that technology will always be a double edged sword especially in a classroom environment as you can do many things with the technology. In order to solve this problem teachers should be aware of when to use technology and when not to.

    Without the use of technology interaction is imminent in a group setting as they are forced to do a specific task with that set of people with no distractions whereas with technology they can just listen to their Ipods.

    The learning process of this assignment was pretty enjoyable as there was a lot more teamwork involved as creating a case study is a job that cannot be split up.

    The laptop again is a double edged sword, students can use it to gather information from the net or browse Facebook. In the end it is really up to them and once they are set on that task it is very hard to motivate them to do otherwise.

  2. Hi Ms. Antony, I believe that the assignment you presented to us, the one without the technology, helped me to improve my work habits and efficiency. I agree that technology is very useful but it is also very distracting.
    I felt that through this assignment, where technology wasn't allowed, I have worked a lot more efficiently. I also enjoyed this assignment where we got to interact with new students in the class. Last but not least, I like how everything was made by students, case study, questions etc.
    I look forward to another assignment like this.

  3. Human just cant multitask, however, they are making the computer to be able to multitask

    I do agree that students learn better as they are not allow to use computer during the class

    Besides learning progress, the students also increase the quality of class discussion as they are concentrating

    Therefore, it is very likely that more students enjoy the class and learning process

    Most of the time, laptop does distract student's learning, and the grades as well

    The only advantage of using laptop during the class is that it helps researching and organizing work. If the students use the computer wisely, it should help their learning.

  4. I have to admit through the case study we did, It was super frustrating without a computer. My group was alright, and although I had my laptop out, everyone was looking at my screen, it was pressuring and difficult not to multi task.

    I think we worked definitely better but only through time management. I think living in the new generation we HAVE to multitask in order to do well, or maybe perhaps some of us not all. I feel that as grade 12 students we must have the ability to be given the independence to fail or not. Turning 18 anyways, almost being a legal adult in most countries, even if we were to multi task, at the day of the we choose to fail or succeed.

    Lastly, I think we multi task in all honesty maybe because we get bored of a lesson with no visuals or hands on activities like multi tasking does. While we multitask we are moving our hands, brains, feelings and thoughts. While listening to a lecture, we tend to tune out especially most of us have a lack of interest.

    Thereby, I think in occasion it is OK to multitask but to a certain extent. Being motivated as a teacher is important but understanding is also key. If both the student and the teacher wants to be motivated, it has to be a win win situation. Where the teacher enjoys to teach the lesson, and the students enjoys to learn-- Learners and learning right? Therefore, I think the awnser to your question is.. have some fun !

    Jade Griffin

  5. Hello Ms. Antony
    i am one of those students who has a lack of self discipline, and have a hard time not multi-tasking in class. i believe that your quote "are grades really a measure of student's success? " is quite true cause i dont really think grades are everything. but i believe with stricter agenda i will excel in the class

  6. I believe that without technology, I am able to work better as I won't multitask. Although a laptop is good for finding information, without it I am able to use my own knowledge when working.

  7. I enjoy this learning process so much. i like the way students are treated equally and fairly. moreover, you are strict to those who disobey or disturb the class. I hate a noisy class. for some class, i admit teacher is too easy going. he jokes with students which make the students don't have any respect to the teacher and make the class goes messy. however, i dislike when the teacher arrange the group member. students who are arranged with someone they don't like, won't be motivated and they won't have feeling to work hard. it will also affect our grades as well. in an addition, i think laptop does distract my learning. for my self, when i have my laptop opened in front of me, i always want to do something with it. that's a habit i think.

  8. Multitasking has to be allowed because for those English as a second language need to use a web dictionary although sometimes they may browse Facebook.

    I would like to say that use of laptop is a benefit for me to pay more attention to the class whether others do not.
    (ex. take a note, research, look for definition etc.)
    I believe i learn more if I am allowed to use my laptop.

  9. I think the new assignmnet without using laptop help me learn better and make me participate more. Without any electric device during the class, I was able to focus more on the assignment and interact more with my group members.
    I think we have to decide and manage oursevles when to use technology or not to use. I believe that,in this way, we can work efficiently.

  10. It is true that people can't multitask very well. We can only focus on one thing and it is hard to focus on a lot of things. Sometimes we multitask mainly because we are not interested on what we are doing at first so we start doing other things.
    The new assignment helped me learn better about the topic of the course as while we are doing the assignment, we also study the theories and all the other parts of each chapter to be able to complete the assignment. With no technology, well we can use one laptop per group, we worked better as a group and also as an individual as we only focused on one task BUT it is hard work fast as we only use one laptop to do the research, to write our notes, and etc. It takes more time to work than if we all use our laptops to do the research and then put all the informations we gathered together, which will be much faster.

  11. The new assignment did help me alots for my learning skills. It makes me think and use many motivation theories. It requires the knowledge/understanding and application from the previous chapters. There are more interactions because in a new group,we have to dicuss and evaluate other's ideas to improve our assignment.
    In my opinion, I think that laptop really helps me learn well. It is useful and help me organized my own-study easily. Sometime i study on the latop easier than the notes, books,etc...However,it also distracts myself and other student because of losing concentration.(surfing web, skype ,Facebook,etc...)

  12. The new assignment that the teacher assign us to do in group really did help me personally to learn better. For myself, I do learn much better when I am in a group because it forces me to do work so that the other group member won't say " Oh everyone is doing work except you."

    My group did work hard and we did the best we can to stay on task and discuss about everything relates to the project. Personally, I really do enjoy learning in this kind of process without using any laptop or other technology. I would enjoy surfing in class too because sometimes it is a distraction, but without my laptop infront of me, I find myself learning better and I can focus more.

    As a senior student, grade plays a big role in our education; so I would like to have my grade to go up in order to get into a good university or college. But I also have to say sometimes technology is a must too because we depend so much on technology nowadays. For example, taking notes in class I do think that we should be using our laptop for that.

    I'm looking forward to work in a group more for up coming projects with this kind of teaching skills.

  13. I believe the new assignment; group case study helped me learn better. During the class, only one person in a group could used laptop as a writer. Students just discussed their ideas, and laptop was actually needless. And it makes more interaction amongst my group members.

    I am not the one who only works assignment during class time. So, without laptop, sometimes it was hard to concern on discuss with group members. I could not think about that laptop would distract my learning before. But now, after the class without laptop, I think I would get better mark on my assignment or test if I am not using laptop in school. Of course, I need laptop to searching information or as a electronic dictionary, but I cannot stop using laptop after I finished research. So, I believe laptop affects my grades.

    It is important to how to manage the time I use laptop. If I can manage myself, then laptop would be great helper which increase my grade.

  14. The new assignment had helped me to learn and apply my knowledge. I enjoyed working in group. I enjoyed dividing the work and later on every piece will be added together. I enjoyed group discusion, because every member carries different talents, skills, and level of knowledge. This always inspires me by ideas that other memeber has given.
    Honesly, I did enjoy listening to Ms. A given knowledge and experience through the lesson. Even though, I didn't enjoy of all writing assignments that were given. Tests are one way to test students how much knowledge have they absorbed. Indeed, this is not a way to prove my understanding of text. I could explain it through a poster or ppt. The joy of learning business is to see the effects that every decision made throught the process, and at the end, it would always like a circle. It's a new around.

  15. I have to admit that I would learn better without laptops or other sort of technologies. Using pen and papers instead of typing on laptops made me feel the original method of studying is the most appropriate way in class. Obviously, technology in class may cause distraction of students from teacher. But on the other hand, it can still improve the efficiency of class.

    Indeed, technologies would help people to multitask on their study. And there will be more interaction amongst group members by using Skype or e-mail to contact each other for discussing problems and complete their works at home. I do enjoy the learning process while every member of group would communicate friendly and finish the work together.

    In class, the laptop does distract my attention. The enjoyment of suffering on internet and chatting with friends; these all elements would distract and affects my grades of many courses. But sometimes, it would help me as well. The dictionary, Microsoft and other websites of learning would help me efficiently in learning business.

  16. Firstly, I think this is a great assignment. By working with other members to write a case study about motivation, I got a high comprehension about what the two units are talking about. Also, I learned how to cooperate with other classmates, and I tried my best to take more responsibility during the writing process.

    And by reading others' case study and answering the questions, I applied what I have learned so far. I think it is really important for a business class, to understand the business theories and use them in the real world setting in a flexible way.

    By researching on the internet, I could get information and read others' opinions, which helps me learn well. But sometimes, I feel without a laptop, I might be more concentrated on learning. Because I could do so many other things on the internet and it really distract me a little bit.

    Last week, in your business class, I felt I improved a lot without using the laptop. Before, I need to spend a lot of time after school to read the textbook to try to understand what we learn every day. But now, I could comprehend perfectly just by concentrating on what you are teaching and interacting with other students and you during the class.

  17. I strongly Agree with the theory because it does make sense and when i researched it it was very straight forward and easy to understand.
    Although im distracted a lot on the internet i feel like i can sometimes cut out these distractions and do my work well.

  18. I think my group members and I put lots of effort on the video assignment. I stronly agree with Ms. Antony's idea of putting laptops, mobile phones, and Ipod away when we were working on the assignment. It helped me more focus on my work so that my work was done more efficiently.
    The assignment had helped me apply my knowledge and deeply understand the theory of stress. In order to make a creative and perfect video, I discussed with my team member for several times about what to do and how to do. Every members engaged in the discussion and delivered their opoinion and suggestion. Throug the discussion process, I realize that well-organized and well-coperated are two important keys to a sucessful group assignment.
    Moreover, I've learned some basic skills of making video by using Movie Maker such as how to cut and edit a video and how to put background music into the video as well.