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Is Technology In The Classroom A Distraction For Your Students?

December 15, 2014

Digital Distraction


Today’s students are known by many names like online learners, digital natives and even the distracted generation. No matter what you call them, the main conflict about the existing education structure is regarding the growing use of technology in learning and in the classroom.

Some educators believe that digital tools enhance the learning experience by making to more individualised and engaging. However, there are others who believe that technology only offers a direct route to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and thus distracts students and interferes with the learning experience. Irrespective of what you believe, the fact remains that educational technology is here to stay.

So instead of trying to avoid digital technology, let us focus on how we can use it for the betterment of our students and prevent it from becoming a distraction. Let’s find out....

Multitasking Simply Doesn’t Work

Many students think that texting in the classroom is okay and it doesn’t interfere with their learning. But this classic myth about multitasking, which is often reinforced by parents, is actually wrong and you need to debunk it. Although multitasking allows you to do several things simultaneously, but you can’t do any of these well. As we only have a single primary attention channel, by including an additional task in the mental plate, no matter how small it is, we choke up the channel. Hence we can’t do either task properly. One of the best ways to deal with digital distractions in your class is to directly focus on the multitasking myth with a lesson on focus and attention.

Think Twice About Banning Smartphones

Is banning smartphones in the classroom a good idea? Although you may think that banning devices will prevent distractions, but it will also limit your learner’s ability to personalise the learning experience by searching for related information online, finding specific terms used by the instructor on Google or even searching Google Images to get a better understanding of various concepts.

However this does not mean that you let your students do whatever they want with digital devices. The solution here is again developing a lesson plan regarding better use of technology in the classroom. This will create a sense of accountability, a better understanding about attention and also promote peer pressure for proper use.

Write In Their Language

Online content is read differently than printed content or on Kindle page. Online readers tend to scan information from multiple sources and dig deeper for more data on specific topics. Most of us get frustrated when a particular page fails to open and navigate elsewhere.

Hence, when you develop written materials or worksheets, you must offer in-depth knowledge, which should be broken in small chunks with bulleted lists and bolded headers. This will help your students grasp the essential points quickly. However, you can make it even more effective by adding some images in worksheets. Using multimedia tools will also help in boosting the attention levels of your students.

Avoid Posting Every Lesson Online

Even though your learners may encourage you to offer a copy of presentation slides or lecture notes online prior to the class, but avoid making content available easily online. You must offer them a basic structure to get an idea about the lesson plan, but your learners need to have some incentive to pay attention in the classroom. By offering detailed materials and lecture notes online, you will eliminate all incentive which will motivate to get distracted via their smartphones. Your students must have a purpose in the class.

Apart from the techniques mentioned here, you can implement various other innovative methods to prevent your students from getting distracted by technological devices. By embracing technology you can certainly improve the educational experience, but you also need to stick to your core teaching principals.

How do you use technology in your classroom? Do you have any other tips or ideas that you want to share? Then feel free to comment below. We would love to hear from you.

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