Improving Students Attention Span with Educational Technology
Do you know that humans attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish (eight seconds against nine)? In the age of social media and technology, humans lose their attention easily. Every day we are exposed to so many stimulations that are attacking us from many sources that when it comes to focussing our brains don’t know what to do anymore.
Phones, tablets, computers, TV, the internet and social media are overwhelming. It’s simply difficult to make things done. Obviously, blaming technology is the easiest way to explain the lack of attention span we experience. But is technology really responsible for our focusing problems?
Benefits of technology in the classroom
Technology enhances the learning experience in many ways. Undoubtedly it can be treated as a major distraction, but educators should look at it as a support, not a foe.
By cutting off the technology in the classroom teacher can cause more harm rather than good. Many teachers refuse to use educational technology since it’s considered a disturbance. In fact, the Pew Research Centre in America found that 77% of teachers think that the internet had a “mostly positive” impact on students’ research work, while 87% felt modern technologies were creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans”.
Although, it’s not the phones fault that students don’t study. Educational technology can bring plenty of benefits in the teaching and learning processes. Starting from a personalized approach that enables each student to find its own way to learn successfully, to more flexible access to study materials, to easier tracking student’s progress.
When it comes to improving the attention span educational technology can help rather than decrease it. Teachers just need to find proper tools and make sure that students use them properly.
Teaching about focusing
Before educators introduce any type of educational technology in the classroom it’s essential to set rules and boundaries regarding using it. Many students watch TV and stay online while doing their homework. That is why it’s important to train them when it’s necessary to turn off the Internet, phones, and TV.
First off, students should look at their devices as powerful educational tools. Teachers should make sure that all students value phones, tv, and computers beyond entertainment. This small switch in the approach will change their thinking that a computer or a phone is equal to watching funny videos and chatting with friends. Once their mindset change, they will approach technology with a different attitude.
Another thing is the importance of teaching about “cognitive control”. Human’s brain is set to constantly looking for new information rather than following it through. In the classroom, educators need to find time to discuss time management, prioritizing activities, and how to stay self-motivated.
Once it happens, technology can be very useful. It’s not only the best friend of modern students but also an attractive and engaging tool to help out.
Apps for extending the attention span
There are plenty of apps that can improve and strengthen the length of the attention span. Below we described a few that can be used in the classroom:
The name of the app simply explains its formula! When using the browser it’s extremely difficult not to check out other website or open any links. Freedom is an amazing blocker that allows setting when and what pages are inaccessible. It simply blocks distracting domains so you can focus and get things done. The extension works on Macs, PCs, iPhones, and iPads, and it assures the freedom from all the possible distraction.
Focus me is an alternative to Freedom. It works in a similar way: you control which websites can’t be used when being online. Blockers solve the struggle of teachers that are worried about students using social media in the classroom. As a teacher you can blacklist particular domains during the school hours, so even if some student restarts the device the access won’t be possible.
The tool is a great way to measure the attention span of your students. It estimates how much time they spend on a particular website and on each application. After realizing what app/platform is distracting your students you can blacklist them with other apps.
The app is a great tool to manage attention during teamwork. Among the many task management features, HeySpace offers chat features that enhance collaboration. The software provides students with boards, tasks, to-do lists and deadlines. The variety of features helps to stay organized, and bring attention to the particular task without switching between other apps and chats.
This app is another great task manager. It allows to prioritize the tasks, categorized them, set the due dates, and specify who is responsible for each task. The software can be used both by a group and an individual student. Practiced consistently Todoist can measure the performance, keep students motivated and organized.
Being constantly exposed to all information that flows from websites steals students attention. Sidebars are full of articles or funny posts that can simply distract and influence the work. Pocket to rescue! The software is a great way to save any articles that students come across. All content is kept in a user’s pocket and accessible after the task is completed!
As teachers, you need to remember that increasing your students’ attention spans means teaching them to have better self-control. Educational technology is taking over teaching and learning processes and by implementing EdTech you will take a positive step towards the better educational experience of your students.
Undoubtedly, technology has its pros and cons. It can be distractive and shortens the attention span, but used wisely it can work on a teacher’s favor and increase the time of remaining focused.
There are many apps and software that are created for teachers to measure and manage students productivity. As an educator the best thing you can do it’s to experiment and try to find what is the most effective in your classroom!