With final exams right around the corner, now is the perfect time for students to think about how effective their studying habits really are.
Let’s face it: ‘studying’ often means lounging on a couch or bed with earbuds in, Facebook and Twitter running, and a cell phone within reach. Is it that students aren’t aware of how multitasking affects their information retention, or is that they literally cannot keep themselves from checking email and instant messages while working?
Slate.com reports that investigators from the lab of Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University–Dominguez Hills, watched students (263 students total in middle school, high school, and college) completing schoolwork/studying and recorded what they were actually doing once a minute for 15 minutes. The researchers checklists including expected studying behaviour such as writing on paper, reading a book, and typing notes, but also included activities such as looking at Facebook, texting, using email, talking on the phone, and watching television.
Even though the students were aware they were being watched, and were told to “study something important” researchers found that it “wasn’t long before their attention drifted: Students’ “on-task behavior” started declining around the two-minute mark as they began responding to arriving texts or checking their Facebook feeds. By the time the 15 minutes were up, they had spent only about 65 percent of the observation period actually doing their schoolwork.”
It seemed that the students were literally unable to work continuously for 15 minutes without “media multitasking,” a habit that has become all too familiar to students growing up in an ever-increasingly technological world.
It’s important to note that the evidence is clear: when students multitask while studying or completing homework, they do not learn as well as when the work receives their full attention. As Slate reports, they “understand and remember less, and they have greater difficulty transferring their learning to new contexts.”
According to Slate, some researchers are proposing that the ability to resist an incoming message notification or a buzzing cell phone is the new Marshmallow Test of self-discipline, and could determine students’ potential academic success levels. If students are unable to stop themselves from multitasking while in class, completing schoolwork, or studying, it could seriously affect their academic careers.
The important point for students to note is that “the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time.” Most students believe that they are able to multitask effectively, when the truth is that the brain simply cannot keep up. One task (usually the information retention) will therefore not be completed successfully, leaving students unable to recall what they ‘learned’ even 10 minutes prior. As well, the brain becomes fatigued when constantly switching from task to task, and although texting and tweeting don’t seem like complex tasks, they use the same area of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that listening to and deriving meaning from a lecture does. While humans are able to do two tasks effectively if they use different areas of the brain (for example, folding laundry and listening to the radio), it is simply not true that students can learn as well while multitasking as they would if giving learning their undivided attention.
While students likely don’t want to acknowledge that “media multitasking” is a problem, studies undeniably show that being distracted by technology while learning leads to poor grades. In Rosen’s study, “students who used Facebook during the 15-minute observation period had lower grade-point averages than those who didn’t go on the site.”
So given that technology isn’t going away any time soon, what is the solution? Rosen suggests students take “tech breaks”: 2-3 minutes of texting/messaging/emailing after every 15 minutes of uninterrupted work time. Knowing that a “reward” is coming for working continuously for 15 minutes can help students stay focused and learn better.
To read Rosen’s study on “Media-induced task-switching while studying,” click here.
To read some of Oxford Learning’s tips and tricks for effective studying, click here.
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Does your child spend countless hours in front of the television screen, controller in hand, playing his/her favourite video game? Do you have to call two, three, four times before s/he finally shuts the system down and comes to the table for dinner or goes to bed? Why can children sit still and concentrate for long periods of time on video games but not in the classroom?
For these reasons alone, many are inclined to discredit video games as creating a generation of mindless tech-zombies.
But can video games actually help children learn?
Turns out that some teachers are beginning to think so, and have used the game Minecraft in their classrooms with success.
A Gamespot article reports that teachers are using Minecraft to teach subjects such as physics, geography, and English, and are seeing positive results, including increased attention spans, collaboration between students, and better grades.
Do you think video games can be a valid learning tool? Is media use in the classroom the way of the future for education, or should children be learning better skills for focusing on things beyond television and computer screens? Send us your comments!
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What is the answer for students who struggle with attention and comprehension in the classroom? In an age where children turn to the Internet for answers, is incorporating state-of-the-art technology into classrooms the answer to get students to pay attention and learn best?
Studies in Alberta suggest the answer is no. While many students might love to see their favourite technological gadgets and sites used in the classroom, the majority of students say that technology is not how they learn best, and is not the only answer to making classrooms better learning environments.
An Alberta initiative called Speak Out asked students to share their thoughts on education, and the results may be surprising:
- Students report that having teachers who provide more time to help them, smaller class sizes, more learning outside the classroom, hands-on experiments, and working at their own pace all rank higher than technology as ways to increase and improve their learning
- Only 3% of students ranked up-to-date technology as the primary way they learn at their best
- Only 4% of students said classroom upgrades, better computers, textbooks and equipment, would be the best way to improve their education.
Studies throughout the province of Alberta suggest that although students are technologically savvy when it comes to communication, they often don’t know how to use technology effectively to learn. Also, in over 50% of the classrooms researchers visited that were using technology to learn (Smart Boards, computers, Skype, for example), students exhibited the same levels of disengagement as in classrooms using no technology.
So what’s the solution? It seems that technology alone is not the answer to creating more engaged and successful students. To read what other solutions there may be to keep your child engaged and learning in the classroom, click here.
To read the entire article on technology in the classroom from the Calgary Herald, click here.
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Does chatting online with friends, playing video games, using social media sites, and watching television outside the classroom have a negative impact on students inside the classroom?
Mashable shared findings in a recent study by Common Sense Media that suggest heavy media use by children is impeding their ability to perform well in the classroom.
The study reports that 71% of teachers say media use hurts children’s attention spans, and students themselves report that media use harms their ability to communicate face to face and has had a negative impact on their writing skills. Teachers also report that the now 7.5 hours (on average) of daily media use by children for entertainment purposes impedes their ability to complete homework timely and effectively.
However, the study reveals that media use is not all bad. The report suggests that 63% of teachers indicate that media use allows students to find information more quickly and efficiently, and that some teachers believe media use has a positive impact on children’s ability to multitask.
To read Mashable’s article, and for a link to the full study, click here.
What do you think? Is media more helpful or harmful when it comes to children’s study/school habits? Leave us a comment!
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We’ve discussed the concept of the Flipped Classroom before. (A flipped classroom is one where students watch the lecture at home and work collaboratively on projects in class.)
And we’ve definitely the subject of technology in the classroom and how it has an impact on learning.
The standout benefits of the flipped classroom articulated in this video? The ability for students to control the rate at which they learn.
Other key takeaways:
The ability for students to watch and re-watch the lecture as often as needed.
- To pause and rewind the teacher.
- To watch the classroom lecture whenever is most convenient for them.
- To use class time to engage in high-order thinking.
And probably the best quote in the video: ” a circus of learning.”
click image to watch the video
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We already know that the Internet is addictive–that the instant gratification caused by pop-up screens and friend requests, and other clicks, beeps, and blinks causes the brain to release habit-forming dopamine.
But did you know that Internet addiction has become so prevalent that it is about to become a recognized mental disorder?
According to new studies and research Internet Addiction will be recognized as a mental disorder in 2013. In some parts of the world–China, Taiwan, and Korea–it already is, and approximately 30% of teens in those parts of the world have this affliction.
Here are some other facts about Internet addiction:
- Internet Addicts’ speech, memory, motor control, emotion, and sensory parts of the brain are 10-20% smaller than non-addicts’.
- Attention spans have dropped in the US by 40%
- The amount of time teens are online a day has risen from just over 3 hours a day to over 7 hours a day
Want to read even more about Internet Addiction and what you can do about it? Check out this great infographic from UpWorthy.
Click the image to go to the full graphic.
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Today’s kids are born wired. We’ve all seen the viral video of the baby who can work an iPad but struggles when given a magazine.
What will that baby’s education be like when she enters high school? Will a non-interactive pencil and paper be enough to stimulate her thinking and learning?
This interesting animated video from Blackboard.com takes a look at the changing educational needs of the digital generation.
Here are some highlights:
“I am a digital Native—an active learner. Why carry just a textbook when my iPad connects me to the world? I want to know things all the time, and right away…to learn, I look online, because the classroom isn’t enough for me.”
“It’s projected that by 2019 half of all high school courses will take place online.”
“When I’m more connected, I’m more interested.”
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Want Better Grades Next Fall? Get Outside this Summer.
There are many factors to consider in the quest for better grades. There’s the academic considerations: increased study time, hiring tutors, developing better habits such as time management and organization, and fine-tuning in-class learning skills.
But new studies are showing that one factor that is often overlooked in the quest to improve kids’ educational experience: nature.
The so-called “Nature-Deficit Disorder” is not necessarily a new term, but researchers and educators are recognizing and embracing the call of the wild and making it an essential part of the curriculum.
Getting outdoors in the summer is win-win-win.
WIN 1: Outdoor activity increases health benefits and combats the worrisome rise of childhood obesity rates in North America.
WIN 2: It increases blood flow to the brain, nourishing brain cells and strengthening neural connections. It improves mood and combats depression, which improves focus.
WIN 3: It gets kids outside, and away from the screens.
A new British survey has even put together a “Bucket List” of Outdoor Activities For Kids to do before they are 11 and three-quarters. (But no explanation of why 11 and three-quarters is the magic age. If you know why, let us know! )
Here are just a few of the ideas from the Free-and-Easy-and-Fun activities that you can easily incorporate into your family’s summer To-Do List:
- Fly a kite
- Learn how to skip a stone
- Make a Mud pie
- Dam a stream
- Bury someone in the sand
- Climb a tree
- Plant something.
- Discover what’s in a pond
- Find your way with a compass
So get the kids outside this summer! Lather on the sunscreen and don’t be afraid of scraped knees. Summer outdoor activity is critical to both childhood and to grades.
Don’t leave yet! Read more:
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Technology is an important part of education–both in and out school. As important as technology is, it’s also very important to think critically about how and why we use the technology in our lives.
These checklists can help.
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A lot can change in a year, including education. That’s never more true than right now, with technology continually ushering in new ways to connect and learn causing the educational landscape took look a lot different that it did just a few short years ago.
Here are some of the education hot topics we talked about this year:
The Flipped Classroom--this experimental approach flipped the traditional model of lecture-in-class, homework-at-home on its head and saw students learning via You Tube at home, and working on assignments and group work in class.
Blended Learning–rapidly growing in popularity, in a blended classroom, students spend a portion of their in-class time self-learning using computers.
Twitter in the classroom–social media became a large player in many classrooms, helping increase student engagement.
Cursive is removed from the curriculum–Some school boards remove learning cursive handwriting from the curriculum, saying it’s an outmoded lesson.
Cellphones in the classroom--once banned from classrooms, some school classrooms actually require students to have cellphones to participate in discussions.
Is there such a thing as too much technology?–a new study shows that too much online time can actually change brain structures and cause poorer test results.
Stop texting and go to sleep– research shows that technology use before bed can disrupt sleep habits, causing students to struggle in class.
And less technology-based, but still newsworthy:
Longer days, shorter weeks–schools experiment with a shortened school week to see if a day off gives students more of a chance to complete work.
What were the biggest changes to education that you experienced this year? We’d love to hear from you!
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