The Internet, My Mysterious WebI love the internet. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, NFL, CFL, MLB, NHL, TSN, UWW, just to name my top 10 sources utilized in the last month. I think that like anything else your level of focus is dependent upon your interest/commitment/procrastination level. James Hamblin shares his thoughts on "Single-tasking" in the video from this week:
While I see my young students (grade 7/8) having this problem, I can say with confidence that when it comes down to working seriously I do not have this issue. When it is time to get to work on a paper, blog, readings, or simply marking, I find I have the capacity to get the work done. Typically I need to be in an environment conducive to this as well, so I usually hid in my basement, and make sure the TV is off and I get to work. On the other hand, on a Sunday afternoon, when I am watching football, I open my phone, look through countless threads, feeds, news stories, games, etc., but when it is work time, I am pretty good at shutting off the "other" things and getting the work done.
My Classroom, A Constant BuzzIn my classroom that is not always the story. Keeping an eye on 26 students who are supposed to be working on their projects via technology can be difficult. Setting the standard for what is acceptable behavior online, during class takes time, and reinforcing it without extrinsic rewards is even more challenging. This is where the concept of "single-tasking" and teaching is non-existent. I can not think of a time where I can do this within a classroom setting. Weather it is in a digital world, or the physical (most of the time it is blended). I will typically have one to two students at my desk asking for clarification, while others have their hands up for other reasons, all while I am opening a variety of linked documents through Google Classroom to see if the Chatty Cathy's in the back are being productive or not. All of this transpires every minute or so for an entire class.
Every once and a while to help us (the students and myself) de-stress from our connectedness we will read a story that has been photocopied, or utilize a resource straight from a textbook when available. My students find this practice relaxing and I typically find them very engaged, especially when I am reading aloud to them, with my terrible accents and all. This would be one of the only times I am almost single-tasking within my room as a teacher.
Now in terms of whether or not the internet has created a world of multi-taskers or not. Aside from the opinions that multi-tasking is a myth, I am going to say not... I think most teachers are skillful at this task. In terms of multi-tasking online, I am not sure we can't be skillful at this as well. I think of our weekly ECI 833 class. At the end of most nights my browser has more tabs than you can use your fingers and toes for, or in many of my teaching environments, I will have open multiple tabs to jump from one to the other to ensure that the lesson flows smoothly, so I am not waiting for pages, to load (or not).