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Pay Attention!

How do you handle students/colleagues who are actively handling email, twittering, facebooking, and whatever-else-ing while you are conducting a class or attending a meeting? Some educators adopt a “it’s the student’s choice” attitude, while others require learners to be present.
Howard Rheingold posits attention as a form of literacy:

I want my students to learn that attention is a skill that must be learned, shaped, practiced; this skill must evolve if we are to evolve. The technological extension of our minds and brains by chips and nets has granted great power to billions of people, but even in the early years of always-on, it is clear to even technology enthusiasts like me that this power will certainly mislead, mesmerize and distract those who haven’t learned – were never taught – how to exert some degree of mental control over our use of laptop, handheld, earbudded media.

Related: PR 2.0 tackles attention from the perspective of the consumer, suggesting advertisers/organizations follow the eyeballs and “compete for attention where and when it’s captivated.”


  1. Iain wrote:

    Students, especially at the beginning of their academic career, need to have signposting so they can recognise them as being important and add meaning, and what is more crucial to this process than having the need to learn the skill of paying attention?

    Monday, April 27, 2009 at 2:38 am | Permalink
  2. Chris Lott wrote:

    Howard is spot-on. Control over one’s approach to– and use of– the affordances of technology is a key part of information fluency and at least a facet of literacy.

    This is where the “Google is making us stupid” crowd is recognizing the symptoms of a real problem, but completely mistaking the source and the most productive ways to deal with it.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink