Can Students Multi-task and Learn

College teacher!!  Do you ask students to put their laptops down?  Their cell phones away?

There seems to be a difference of opinion in this area.  If you are interesting, they will pay attention.  If you are not, they will surf the Web.  But how do you create a community in a room where only a portion of the students are engaged in any one moment?  Where do the threats of “this will be on the exam” end and the real learning begins?

More research is coming out on students inability to multi-task in the classroom.  To learn and run other important daily tasks.   If you have the time, here is a great blog post detailing some of the research:  The Age of Distraction: Getting Students to Put Away Their Phones and Focus on Learning.

Skills vs. Knowledge in College Classes

One of my favorite peers, when teaching college students often tells his students that you “need skills to pay the bills”. With the demands on graduating students to pay their bills, his statement rings true on many levels.  At the same time, we want to produce students who can analyze, problem solve, and reason their way through challenges.  Does teaching the latest platforms benefit them in the long run?  Will their first jobs get them up to date on the latest platforms or proprietary software?  How do we strike the balance?

I am sure this question is running through the mind of most professors designing new classes or teaching marketing classes in the spring.  A search for the right balance continues but I am certainly devoted to having students create and measure digital content in my digital media class this semester.  Let’s see where it leads…