George Lucas Educational Foundation

Multitasking with Technology--Harmless or Distracting for our Students?

Multitasking with Technology--Harmless or Distracting for our Students?

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My school piloted a 1:1 laptop program with our middle school students. We just received some parent feedback from a survey, and while most of the feedback was positive, we received some comments that created an interesting discussion during our staff meeting. Some parents were worried that, while their children benefited from having their laptops for homework in the evenings, students were often multitasking during their homework time. They switch from typing to doing research to checking Facebook throughout the evening. They ask, "How can they focus and complete their work when they have ten things going on at once?" Indeed, this style of multitasking is very different from the traditional homework time of the past that involved sitting down at a desk with a textbook for hours without distractions. With work on a computer, it is common to have multiple windows open and programs running at once. Some might even argue that multitasking with computers is a developed skill, and it is one that the younger generation that grew up with this technology has picked up effortlessly. My question: does multitasking during homework time prevent students from really focusing on their work, or has the younger generation developed an ability to successfully multitask and still be productive and focused? Also, if we require students to use laptops, should we also be teaching students how to responsibly resist the temptation to check Facebook and surf the internet when they should be working? Thanks for your thoughts!

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