George Lucas Educational Foundation

21st Century Learning: Striking a Balance between Tech, Inspiration & Productivity

21st Century Learning: Striking a Balance between Tech, Inspiration & Productivity

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Studying in an ultrawired world is not easy.

You know too much for your own good. Your are hooked to information. You wouldn’t go so far as to call yourself an information junkie but you have a deep need to know what’s going on around you. You love browsing through your favourite magazines and reading articles by people you admire. You have a special thing for interviews; they give you a peek into the minds of people who have been game changers, which is inspiring for you. And Ted Talks have the power to uplift your energy for at least a few hours as you see the brightest minds in the world come together for interesting dialogues.

The student of the 21st century faces a unique problem -- an overdose of information and inspiration. So that the best of intentions often fail to translate into good academic performance.

Is there such a things as being high on learning new things? Or too much inspiration?


And it can affect your productivity.

Inspiration is great in small and regular doses but anything taken to the extreme is counterproductive.

If you face this problem of being addicted to reading new and stimulating articles and/or watching inspiring videos, you need to address this problem for what it is -- an addiction.

You are not alone though; many students are addicted to tech -- some for social networks, others for inspiration. But addiction is addiction and it’s not healthy.

Inspiration should help you, not get in your way. Read on to find out how you can make it a positive force in your life.

Make a List of Websites You Spend Most of Your Time On

There are websites that simply have us stuck on them. We don’t even realise how hours go by as we browse through them because they are oh so good!

Next time you are on such a website, make note of the time you spend on it.

The aim of this exercise is for you to become aware of your net consumption patterns (no pun intended!).

If you are spending a couple of hours or more on a website every single day, you have got a problem. If there are more than a few websites you are hooked on to, you’ve got an even bigger problem.

How Many Hours Should You Be Studying?

Next. make a list of your course assignments and decide how many hours (ideally) you should be spending on each of them every single day.

This is a bit like determining your ideal calorie intake when you are trying to gain or lose weight. It may look a bit daunting in the beginning but it’s a start. In fact, it’s where you should start if you want to see any good results.

Determine Your Study-to-Net Surfing Ratio

We all have things that we need to get done in a day. You must, too. In fact, for you deadlines should be sacrosanct. If you come dangerously close to missing them more often than not because you are too busy reading up on Einstein, you know you have a problem.

What is that problem?

Usually, it’s bad management of time. Or scratch that. Usually, it is not being able to do any better than waste loads of time. Yes, that’s right. Because each and every one of us knows it when we are wasting time!

So do some calculations and arrive at the ideal ratio of how many hours a day you should be studying (properly) and how long you should be spending on pointless, recreational, or even super-inspirational net surfing.

Why are we putting pointless and super-inspirational in the same category?

Because if it is not aiding your productivity, it is all the same for you at this point.

Once you have arrived at a good ratio, here are a couple of steps that will help you change the balance of things for good.

Start with the Frog for Breakfast

Or in simple terms, begin your day with that which you like the least.

Like studying, for instance. Get your study for the day out of the way before you switch to net surfing.

Think of net surfing as a treat, which you deserve once you have clocked in adequate number of hours studying on any given day.

If your smartphone automatically connects to wi-fi and keeps bringing you updates on Whatsapp or the sports team of your choice, go to the settings of your phone and opt out of auto connect to wireless networks. You don’t need constant news feeds to interrupt you while you are studying.

NOTHING is so important that it cannot wait till later on, when it’s officially time for you to indulge in net surfing. (Note that we used the word indulge.)

Visit Your Favourite Websites Every Other Day

This may sound a bit extreme if you are too ‘in it’ but works like a charm. Among other things you find out that the less you log in to a super-addictive website, the easier it becomes for you to resist it.

And let’s face it. You are very unlikely to be missing out on any earth-shattering news if you only browsed the net every other day. But think of all the things you would be able to get done in the meantime!

Turn to Apps That Can Boost Your Productivity

There are so many ways in which technology can help you improve yourself, that it’s criminal to let it waste your time.

How exactly are your habits holding you back? No matter what your problem, there’s an app to sort you out. Can’t sleep well because you’ve just moved to a new country to study? Download apps that will help you bring your sleep patterns on track. Have trouble speaking English? You’ll be surprised at the number of apps dedicated to help students overcome this problem.

Set reminders for yourself throughout the day so that when your mind starts wandering, a reminder will, well, remind you to bring it back on track. Apps can also help you battle ADD. Here’s a good list of technology that helps students combat distraction and focus on the right things.


It’s good to be inspired. In fact, it’s great to be inspired. But not at the cost of productivity. Otherwise, gaining inspiration is nothing but just another way of wasting time. Harsh but true.

We aren’t advocating that you completely go off the websites you love; in fact, you shouldn’t. Anything that inspires you is good and there’s a lot for you to learn from it. But life is all about getting your priorities right. And for a student, the priority should be good grades. That irresistible sounding talk by Steve Jobs on Ted Talks? Well, it can wait for another day.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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