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Is Technology Making it Harder or Easier for Students to Focus on Studies?

Published on 27 May 14

When considering new technologies in the learning environment, we are standing on an abyss in respect to wholesale belief in âSmart techâ. Recent movements counter the efficacy of technology as a replacement for traditional study. Cognitive studies on new technologies show that there is some evidence offering contrary opinion to the consensus that learning tools and apps make us smarter. Here we would like to explore the question, âIs technology making it harder or easier for students to focus on studies?â
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Does technology interrupt or expand our focus?

If information technologies and devices are making us dumber, the single most obvious reason is that electronic gadgets interrupt thought. Students interrupted by a mobile phone or other technological device actually score proportionally lower on standard cognition tests than those who are not interrupted. Concentration is poor when students are interrupted by phone calls, alerts, or messaging and this can lead to a more difficult time whilst studying. The potential for a student to lose critical learning time to digitally enhanced devices is so high as a matter of fact, that most schools and higher education institutions require shutting off all devices during class.

Even the slightest ping or pop will potentially distraction a student enough to reduce productivity. If we know this to be true in the workplace, this is certainly also the case in school. The argument that smartphones are ubiquitous due to the tech-driven multitasking they afford is really only part of the story. True: smart apps support us in task management of email, SMS txt, and social media relationships, why not learning activities?

Can technology make us think faster?

The paradigm that learning technologies and tools are vastly improving student scores on standardized tests has been evidenced. Yet, there is still the issue of student involvement with other applications not necessarily relevant to the task at hand. The rapid succession of tasks enabled by new technologies access also has the brain moving along at a pace never known before to man. With online services like this free Spanish resource for teachers you can be sure that our educators will be on the frontlines of positive technological use.

The momentum involved in the applications themselves, coupled by the switching from one app or tool to another ultimately results in what business operations managers call âswitching costsâ. This concept of switching costs is likely to catch on. If a studentâs mind is immersed in a game or chat session, the device can interrupt the mind with a âbeepâ after the user has already moved onto another task like testing or simulation rounds on the computer. Students also tend to replace class discussion with mobile devices. Distraction from lecture or peer-to-peer facilitation can radically alter a studentâs test score or course grade. Finally, the overestimation of student abilities, where artificial intelligence is accorded personal problem-solving capabilities can lead to dependency, rather than thought.

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