A reading assignment for today: The Age of Distraction: The Professor or the Processor? by Michael Bugeja (published in The Futurist magazine)

The question that Bugeja poses: Are digital distractions the cause of lowered performance measures for students? He argues that we’ve spent a lot of money on technology in education. Have we seen results?

It’s a good question. It’s not an argument against technology, per se, I think he’s just making the point that we may need to retake our learning environments from technology distractions (like improper laptop use, cellphone texting, video games on calculators, etc.).

Bugeja writes about what he calles “interpersonal intelligence” which he defines as “knowing when, where, and for what purpose technology is appropriate or inappropriate.”

He suggests teaching incoming students some basic interpersonal intelligence. At my college, we have a seminar designed to teach students study skills, and perhaps this is where these questions belong, in addition to being reiterated in other freshman-level classes:

  • Are you being exploited by the media?
  • Is your internet impulse purchasing destroying your budget?
  • When has using technology distracted you from accomplishing something?
  • Do you have real-person communication skills, like meeting your neighbors or talking to the students in your group?
  • How is instant feedback different from critical thinking?

Hmm. I may need to revisit the third bullet point myself. I know that technology (specifically writing these blog posts) often distract me from other things I should be doing. But I do eventually get those tasks done too… just maybe at a sleep deficit. : )

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