Academia 2.0

Feb 14, 2008 by

I stumbled across this great video tonight – a follow-up to Michael Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today. The video is documentory/mashup-style and is suprisingly insightful – called Academia 2.0. Sit back and enjoy a thought-provoking 10 minutes.

Is it a problem of attention-span and multi-tasking? Or is it a problem of relevance?

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    Wow, the people in Kansas sure are doing some good YouTube productions. I also enjoyed the one about who are students are, the one in which students hold up written statements (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o). I liked it so much that I used the format for a Project Access session at the 2007 AMATYC Annual Conference in Minneapolis.

    With regards to this video, I have concerns about two ideas presented in it: (1) attention span for our current students is less than in the past and (2) our current student is better at multitasking. For both of these ideas, early interpretations of the results from the recent brain research have some input.

    First, I’m not sure that TV is to blame for the perceived reduction in people’s attention span; maybe TV has been tinkering with spot to place advertisements for so long that they’ve stumbled on the optimum time rather than created the time span. Maybe our brains are hardwired with attention spans that can only last for a short period of time. Just think, if it’s 10,000 years ago, I wouldn’t want to be sitting out in the open engrossed in reading a David Brin novel and a predator sneaks up on me. So, the ability for keeping on task for an extended period of time was not the best survival strategy. I wonder if it’s that TV has just discovered this attention span of people years before the brain researchers had the technology. So, it’s not TV that is causing it; just that TV is taking advantage of the situation.
    Now, I don’t have a big concern if people want to claim TV is the cause of this; either way, we have people’s attention for short periods of time. It’s not like one person’s claims that if we make the material relatable to students that they can have attention spans lasting hours. The researcher is claiming that we have a much more difficult task; how to get students’ attention on a regular basis instead of just once at the beginning. I think the person in the video is making a statement more about connecting material to students’ lives and interests, which increases students’ motivation to engage in the concepts. (So, I’m not really disagreeing with the task that teachers’ have, just the fine points.)

    Second, the ability for multitasking is not necessarily a good thing. It’s being discussed that multitask actually creates stress in a person. The constant shifting between tasks increases the time it takes to do the tasks and reduces the quality. So, again, this creates a huge burden on the instructor; how to get the attention of the student and hold it.
    And I wonder, in my day, the distraction during lectures was doodling on the page; because of the availability to communication technologies, has the amount of doodling by students in a class decreased. I wasn’t trying to multitask when I doodled; I was just trying to pass the time during a class that I wasn’t particularly interested in. Just now, students can say that they are multitasking when caught; when in my day, my doodling wasn’t perceived as something productive.

    pat averbeck
    email: patrick.averbeck@edcc.edu

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