Multitasking: Boon or Bane?
Respondents who believe the brain is incapable of multitasking engaged
in a spirited debate with those who see it as a vital digital age skill.
Evolve or Perish
The impact of the digital world on
digital natives is still unknown, as the
human species has never gone through
such an explosion of information. Overload is unavoidable, so the offspring
of this new world have to acquire the
skills necessary to deal with it. Maybe
in the process, the human brain (which
is “massively plastic”) will adapt to the
new environment, reorganize itself, and
become capable of multitasking.
Instructional Technology Specialist Candidate
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
To Each His Own
It depends on personality. I base this on
my own homegrown scientific experiment: my two kids. One does his homework while You Tubing, watching TV,
and texting; the other does it in silence
with headphones on. Their interests and
career trajectories will likely be quite different, but their grades are the same.
Director of Government Relations
Educational Testing Service
Washington, D.C., USA
Not Whether But When
The question is not whether multitasking is good or bad, but rather if we
know when it is productive and when
a more focused approach is needed.
Students aren’t widgets but are all different. Tasks are also different and
require different [levels of] focus. The
real skill we need to teach our students (and many of our colleagues) is
when to multitask and when not to.
Coordinator of Instruction
Endicott, New York, USA
At What Cost?
As a digital immigrant, although I am
not “media multitasking,” I am able
to prepare dinner, help children with
their homework, schedule a doctor appointment, and make sure that my dog
isn’t making a mess on my sofa. As a
teacher, I know it’s critical to be able to
navigate our multimedia world. More
kids are spending more time using
more media simultaneously than ever
before. The question is, at what cost?
How much are they learning?
Architect/Secondary School Teacher
Let Go of Your Fear
We need to teach our students how to
process and absorb information with
other stimuli going on. By the time
these students are adults, who knows
what jobs or tech tools will be available
to them. People need to let go of their
fears of this shift in the next generation.
Fourth Grade Teacher
Instructional Technology Specialist
Mansfield, Massachusetts, USA
Skill for an Imperfect World
Focusing on one thing is the best way
to complete a task. [But] very few people are able to work on a single item
from start to finish without having
to worry about distractions or other
deadlines. My students have seven
classes a day. I would have to ask how
easy it is to focus on a single item
when seven need to be completed, in
some cases with overlapping concepts.
Lakeland, Florida, USA
If you believe in the cognitive load
theory, you know it is impossible to do
[multiple] tasks simultaneously, and
there’s a high likelihood of diminished
performance in the quality of work.
Here are some scenarios that emphasize
my point: Have a student spell his name
out loud while typing a Shakespearean
sonnet, or send a 140-character text
while explaining the steps to find his
favorite song on an iPod.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Efficiency vs. Stupidity
There is a difference between
stupid multitasking and efficient multitasking. Our news media constantly
focuses on the dire effects of “stupid”
multitasking, such as driving a car
while texting. We have to put all this
media into focus. Millions of people
multitask everyday in a responsible
and professional manner. The business world thrives on multitasking
and rewards its workers with jobs
and raises based on their multitasking efficiency.
Rutherford, New Jersey, USA