Can We Have Your Attention, Please?
Let’s talk about attention spans. Are they shortening? Studies suggest that attention spans have shortened considerably over the last few decades.
Why is that? Think about it: as adults, when was the last time you had an entire day completely free from digital distractions? No text messages, email notifications, social media, or aimless internet browsing.
These days, most of us live our lives tethered to our computers and smartphones, which are resourceful but offer unending sources of distraction, too. Sometimes, it can feel impossible to concentrate intensely on anything for any significant length of time.
Now, think about that from a student perspective. Students of all ages learn from adults. With the demand placed on educators and other working professionals, is it possible that the rise of the internet and digital devices has affected students’ attention spans, too? Likely so. Are there ways to utilize technology for good and combat this? Yes, absolutely.
Multitasking works for specific projects but doesn’t work well for learning. The brain needs to be able to hone in and genuinely focus on the topic at hand so it can internalize and retain the information. Students should not multitask in their learning process; instead, they should focus on one thing at a time. A scaffolded curriculum allows students to build their learning one block at a time.
Studies show that Micro-learning is effective for a wide variety of learners as it delivers education in small, bite-sized learning units, typically allowing students to control their learning at their own pace. Again, this will enable students to focus on one thing at a time through a digital platform.
Technology provides educators and their students with many opportunities. Who would have ever thought that a student sitting in a rural classroom across the country could take a virtual field trip and tour The Smithsonian? Remarkable things can happen when technology is implemented into learning strategies. However, there is nothing wrong with unplugging from digital platforms, too. Offering a variety of instructions that is multi-sensory based, promotes conversation and inquiry, or gets students outside (if possible) is essential as well.
No two students are alike, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to shorter attention spans, especially when there are other issues that a student might be struggling with. However, differentiated instruction is crucial because, as a whole, students learn differently and have varied attention spans. Offering diverse instruction methods through various platforms will help students at all learning levels while aiding in keeping their attention.
Written By: Meredith Biesinger
Professional Writer/ Education Specialist
Meredith Biesinger is a licensed dyslexia therapist in Mississippi, in addition to being an experienced classroom teacher and K-12 administrator. Meredith also works as a consultant, where she bridges the bridge the gap between K-12 school districts and ed-tech organizations. With a passion for literacy, she is also a professional writer and syndicated author. With a M.Ed in Educational Leadership and a B.S. in English Education and Creative Writing, she has had rich and diverse opportunities to teach students and education professionals in different parts of the country as well as overseas.
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