Monthly Archives: April 2015

Student Distraction–Could Technology Help Fix That?

Inside Higher Ed published this article on anti-distraction software that seemed to help students focus on course work. Here’s a link to the actual research article. The researcher used a “commitment device, which enables students to pre-commit to daily time limits on distracting Internet activities; a reminder tool, which generates an on-screen reminder that is triggered by distracted web browsing; and a focusing tool, which allows students to block distracting websites for up to an hour when they go to the course website” (Patterson, 2014, p. 2).

This struck a chord with me–for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been informally surveying undergrad visitors to the Playground. My primary question is–on your mobile phone, on which apps have you turned on notifications? Next, I ask them do they respond to those Notifications when they are studying? Here’s a breakdown of the responses:

  • text messages (by far the biggest response, everyone seems to stop what they’re doing and check their devices),
  • email (the second most popular response),
  • social media apps (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, GroupMe, Trivia Crack–in that order)
  • ESPN,
  • and various other apps (Apple Updates, Reddit, Google+, Weather, Words With Friends, TimeHop, AmberAlerts, Google Rewards, Podcasts).

A research question would center around applying Patterson’s commitment device and reminder tools to keep students on-task while they’re trying to study. Thoughts?

Drop by the Playground to chat with us or leave us a comment below.



Teachable Moments

Sometimes when we teach, we leave the beaten track of content and discuss relevant topics of interest–sports, politics, or maybe current events. When we can, we prefer to learn something from these discussions, to be more aware, involved, or active.

This week, I shared a personal story with my undergraduate preservice teachers about the recent bomb threats at the Stillwater Middle School and Junior High School. We discussed the situations, my responses as a parent, and what they thought their reactions might be when they’re a parent and as a teacher in their future classrooms. The majority of students stated they would prefer to keep their own children at home after a threat like those here in Stillwater–safety was the prime motivator. The overwhelming response when I asked them what they would do as a teacher was one of adamancy–they want to be in the classroom with their students should anything like these events occur, they want to be the familiar face for their students in a time of crisis. They were focused on their relationships with students…I was very proud of their responses! I asked them to reflect on these events and our discussion–what we can learn from them, how we might react to future events.

What teachable moments have you had recently in your classes? What was the reaction from your students? Drop us a comment below or come by the T.E.C.H. Playground to chat about it!