Rebecca Coleman, Canadian arts marketing expert and blogger, is asking a very interesting question at her blog today: “Social media: a distraction or an enhancement in the classroom?” She describes such phenomena as participating in two classes at once by attending one and following the Twitter stream of another, and sharing what she learns at a conference with her Twitter followers in real time.
My hackles go up at the thought of students following and participating in another class while being in my classroom. My instinct and the research I’ve heard suggest that what we call “multi-tasking” is really just “doing a half-assed job at more than one thing at the same time.” But I’m not an expert in these matters and I’d love to hear what you all think.
I long ago gave up battling with my students about putting their phones away. I let them use laptops and don’t hassle them about texting, but I’ve always been convinced (and told them) that the students who learn best are those who put away their toys, or at least use them strictly for notetaking or looking up pertinent material. Am I wrong?
Note that the question of whether a tool like Twitter can be used directly as a learning tool is a slightly different, albeit interesting, one. My question, and Rebecca’s if I understand it, is more about whether the benefits of using such a tool to share info or participate in outside activities might balance out its detriments as a distraction.
Go read the post! And comment here or comment there, but let me know what you think.