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How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Digital distraction is emerging as a major problem for learners, whose attention is constantly diverted in a world of screens.

This may sound familiar: you sit down to prepare for an important exam but an hour into your studying you decide to check a video on Youtube. Suddenly you realise that you have spent an hour and a half studying cats reacting to being sprayed with water.

We live in a world where sustained concentration is becoming more difficult and increasingly rare. Gone are the days when you could just sit down and study, with no Skype messages, Facebook notifications, or breaking news alerts contending for your attention. American author Jonathan Franzen famously said that:

It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.

People’s tendency for distraction is higher than ever before because of technology and the unprecedented exposure to information all the time.

Why is multitasking a bad idea?

It is a fact that studying for the GMAT while checking your phone every other minute makes your preparation less efficient. Adam Gazzaley, professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, and author of the book ‘The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World’, claims that when we switch between tasks, we suffer a degradation of performance that then could impact every aspect of our cognition from our emotional regulation to our decision making to our learning process. Clifford Nass, the Stanford professor known for his research on the way people interact with technology, arrived at the conclusion that people are bad at multitasking because they are actually moving in and out of different tasks quickly, not working simultaneously, and nothing gets enough attention.

If you think that your ability to focus compensates for your tendency to multitask, consider this: filtering distractions is more important that focusing. According to Gazzaley, the highest level of performance while learning is dictated by how well you filter all the irrelevant information. He says that if you process information around you that is irrelevant to your goals, it will create interference.

The negative impact of digital distraction is not just on academic performance. Multitasking also has an emotional and psychological impact, including increased anxiety and stress.

How to tackle digital distraction?

Disconnect

Getting off the Internet can be hard, but it could be the most effective way to make studying more efficient. With no Internet, you don’t run the risk of being tempted by Buzfeed’s ‘39 Overly Adorable Kittens To Brighten Your Day’. The Web can be a great assistant in your work, but it is also an inexhaustible source of entertainment that can throttle your productivity.

Block social media

However, if you need the Internet for your studies, try an app that blocks specific websites, such as AntiSocial or a Google Chrome extension called Block Site. Bear in mind that there is a myriad of other websites that might tempt you, such as the BBC, Netflix, Amazon, etc. Analyse which websites interfere with your studying the most and just block them.

Quit social media

If blocking social media does not do the trick, try quitting, at least for the time until the exam. This step can be particularly hard because social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Vine, etc. are known to be quite addictive. However, research shows that most people find that living without social media is much easier than they initially expected.

Analog learning

A 2014 Princeton study shows that writing something down by hand is better than typing it on a laptop. People who take notes on computers are transcribing, and people taking notes by hand tend to be choosing more, says Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He says that:

An important part of learning is ordering things, and you do that more with note taking.

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Schedule study time

You may improve your concentration by planning in advance exactly when and where you’ll spend time doing studying. This could help you prepare mentally for a prolonged period of studying without any kind of digital distraction. You can schedule your study session before your favourite TV show or a football game that you want to watch. Instead of studying for a whole day with numerous planned and unplanned interruptions, try to allot three or four solid hours to a particular task, dedicating it your sustained attention. You can also consider making a to-do list. Lists help prioritise what must be done and when, enabling learners to stay on task during scheduled study sessions.

Exercise

This may sound like a strange piece of advice, but exercise has been credited with significantly improving brain function. A study carried out by the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise enlarges the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. There is plenty of scientific evidence that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are bigger in people who exercise versus people who don’t.

Practice self-restraint

No matter how many sites you block or where you hide your smartphone, all the measures you take will be in vain if you don’t have self-control. You may insulate yourself completely from the digital world, but without self-restraint you are bound to lapse into the harmful, distracting habit of checking your Facebook every 10 minutes. And remember, practising self-control will benefit not only your studying but also your life in general. Research at Duckworth Lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s positive psychology centre concluded that the people relying on consistency and grit came out as more successful than those relying on talent.

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

It is difficult to focus when there is so much technology around us vying for our attention. However, sometimes we have to show character and do what has to be done. Learning to focus and ignore distractions will help us achieve better results in exams, and, ultimately, have better lives in general.

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How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Digital classroom tools like computers, tablets and smartphones offer exciting opportunities to deepen learning through creativity, collaboration and connection, but those very devices can also be distracting to students. Similarly, parents complain that when students are required to complete homework assignments online, it’s a challenge for students to remain on task. The ubiquity of digital technology in all realms of life isn’t going away, but if students don’t learn how to concentrate and shut out distractions, research shows they’ll have a much harder time succeeding in almost every area.

“The real message is because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention,” said Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence and other books about social and emotional learning on KQED’s Forum program.

“Children I’m particularly worried about because the brain is the last organ of the body to become anatomically mature. It keeps growing until the mid-20s,” Goleman said. If young students don’t build up the neural circuitry that focused attention requires, they could have problems controlling their emotions and being empathetic.

“The circuitry for paying attention is identical for the circuits for managing distressing emotion,” Goleman said. The area of the brain that governs focus and executive functioning is known as the pre-frontal cortex. This is also the part of the brain that allows people to control themselves, to keep emotions in check and to feel empathy for other people.

“The attentional circuitry needs to have the experience of sustained episodes of concentration — reading the text, understanding and listening to what the teacher is saying — in order to build the mental models that create someone who is well educated,” Goleman said. “The pulls away from that mean that we have to become more intentional about teaching kids.” He advocates for a “digital sabbath” everyday, some time when kids aren’t being distracted by devices at all. He’d also like to see schools building exercises that strengthen attention, like mindfulness practices, into the curriculum.

The ability to focus is a secret element to success that often gets ignored. “The more you can concentrate the better you’ll do on anything, because whatever talent you have, you can’t apply it if you are distracted,” Goleman said. He pointed to research on athletes showing that when given a concentration test, the results accurately predicted how well each would perform in a game the next day.

Perhaps the most well known study on concentration is a longitudinal study conducted with over 1,000 children in New Zealand by Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, psychology and neuroscience professors at Duke University. The study tested children born in 1972 and 1973 regularly for eight years, measuring their ability to pay attention and to ignore distractions. Then, the researchers tracked those same children down at the age of 32 to see how well they fared in life. The ability to concentrate was the strongest predictor of success.

“This ability is more important than IQ or the socio economic status of the family you grew up in for determining career success, financial success and health,” Goleman said. That could be a problem for students in the U.S. who often seem addicted to their devices, unable to put them down for even a few moments. Teachers say students are unable to comprehend the same texts that generations of students that came before them could master without problems, said Goleman. These are signs that educators may need to start paying attention to the act of attention itself. Digital natives may need help cultivating what was once an innate part of growing up.

“It’s very important to amp up the focus side of the equation,” Goleman said. He’s not naive about the role digital devices play in society today, but he does believe that without managing how devices affect kids better they’ll never learn the attention skills they’ll need to succeed in the long term.

“There’s a need now to teach kids concentration abilities as part of the school curriculum,” Goleman said. “The more children and teens are natural focusers, the better able they’ll be to use the digital tool for what they have to get done and then to use it in ways that they enjoy.”

Some argue that the current generation of students grew up with digital devices and are much better at multitasking than their parents. But the idea of multitasking is a myth, Goleman said. When people say they’re “multitasking,” what they are really doing is something called “continuous partial attention,” where the brain switches back and forth quickly between tasks. The problem is that as a student switches back and forth between homework and streaming through text messages, their ability to focus on either task erodes. That trend is less pronounced when the actions are routine, but it could have significant implications for how deeply a student understands a new concept.

“If you have a big project, what you need to do every day is have a protected time so you can get work done,” Goleman said. For his part, when he’s writing a book, Goleman goes to his studio where there is no email, no phone, nothing to distract him. He’ll work for several hours and then spend designated time responding to people afterwards.

“I don’t think the enemy is digital devices,” Goleman said. “What we need to do is be sure that the current generation of children has the attentional capacities that other generations had naturally before the distractions of digital devices. It’s about using the devices smartly but having the capacity to concentrate as you need to, when you want to.”

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‘Monk mornings’, work sprints and withdrawal from social media helped Benedict Probst become hugely more productive

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How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Four years ago, I was working on a master’s assignment in the library of the London School of Economics. This is a place that offers almost perfect conditions for studying: no one talks, and nothing happens outside the window, except the occasional bird flying by.

Yet I found it impossible to focus. The distraction was in my pocket. What if one of my WhatsApp messages needed urgent attention while I was wasting my time on a climate change assignment?

Many of my friends reported similar feelings. “Whenever it gets too hard,” one told me, “I just take a quick digital break.” But this constant switching between tasks comes at a cost to concentration, which researchers call “attention residue”. In one study, it took participants around 15 minutes to get back to their original task after a digital interruption.

My response was to develop an approach that I call “deep agility”. This combines two powerful approaches (deep working and agile working) to boost concentration while keeping the process fun and flexible. It helped me to graduate top of my class at the LSE and to produce seven papers during my PhD at the University of Cambridge while not working past 7pm during the week and never at weekends.

It all started during a winter break, when I stumbled upon Deep Work, a book by Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University. Newport proposes that the ability to work deeply – on hard problems over extended periods of time – is critical to success in academia and elsewhere, but is eroded by digital technologies. His bold remedy: quit social media.

After reading the book over a week in the mountains, I returned to 500 unread WhatsApp messages. So I deleted WhatsApp. I also scrapped my Facebook account, which had more than 2,000 “friends”. More recently, I left Twitter.

It took my brain some time to readjust from years of constant distraction. Whenever I hit a mental roadblock, I was accustomed to turning to my phone, or checking my emails. Yet these moments are critical for learning hard skills, such as advanced programming. So I tried to put Newport’s advice into action: “Do not take breaks from distraction. Take breaks from focus.”

I installed Focus, a Mac app that blocks access to email and other time-killers, such as YouTube and news sites. I deleted the email app from my phone and deactivated all notifications from the remaining apps. I also told friends that they shouldn’t expect an immediate response.

That allowed me to immerse myself in what I call “monk mornings”: four hours of uninterrupted focus between 8am and 12pm that set the tone for the rest of the day. A 10-minute meditation session before starting helped to further sharpen my mind.

Yet embracing deep work risks isolation. And labouring in solitude might not be compatible with a normal office environment, even for PhD students. This is where agile working comes in.

This emphasises flexible project management, work sprints and quick feedback cycles. Instead of trying to specifically plan when to finish research tasks, I continuously pool all of them in Trello, a free piece of organisational software. I put them into categories depending on urgency. I also keep a “done” list; also known as burn charts, these give you a good feeling as you survey everything you’ve already done.

As it is difficult to exactly plan how long it will take to complete a specific sub-task, I use work sprints to make as much progress as possible on them in a set period of uninterrupted time. I aim to have 10 30-minute sprints per day, which I track with the Be Focused timer. After each sprint, the timer automatically gives you five minutes to rest, and the sprints’ relatively short duration reduces the willpower needed to get started.

Time limits force you to work with utmost concentration and to focus on the things that really matter. For instance, at the LSE I went to the university library without a laptop charger, which gave me only around four hours before my battery died. Stopping all screen activity at 7pm and focusing on friends, sports and other enjoyable things helped me to refuel for the next day.

Quick iteration is another important element of agile work. In his excellent book The Lean PhD, Julian Kirchherr – an academic at Utrecht University – recommends focusing on “minimum viable products”, which in the context of academia are papers that contain the main analysis but are rough in all other aspects, such as literature review and conclusion. For instance, for one paper that is currently under review at Nature Energy, I wrote a, frankly, quite messy first draft in less than two weeks and got quick feedback on it from my supervisors. This not only sped up the process of finalising it for submission, but also allowed me to focus on the most important elements. Not all supervisors are happy to provide feedback so early in the process, but other colleagues or collaborators may be.

Deep agility might not be for everyone, but it has not only transformed my own practice: friends have also reported huge improvements in their productivity by employing these same ideas in their PhDs.

In her book Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, the journalist Winifred Gallagher says: “I’ll live the focused life, because it’s the best kind there is.” My own experience couldn’t bear that out more emphatically.

Benedict Probst is a PhD student at the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance at the University of Cambridge.

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

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Abbie Hoffmann, the 1960’s counter-culture activist, once boasted that he could make unsympathetic news about his ‘Chicago Eight’ trial disappear from the front pages. The next day, he arrived at court doing handstands. The media loved it, he stole the headlines, the distraction worked.

Like Hoffmann, political and corporate leaders have always understood the power – and danger – of distraction. Industrial scale fake news from Russia and China is less about getting readers to believe the falsehoods than to divert attention from the real story.

The tobacco industry, in funding Nobel-prize winning scientific research on genetics, viruses, immunology and air pollution, was not making their case for cigarettes, but diverting attention from the debate altogether.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World suggested that we will be controlled through our distractions. As Claire Masson, FT|IE Corporate Learning Alliance’s head of learning impact observes: ‘We were warned that Orwell’s Big Brother would be watching us; but we’ve ended up watching Big Brother. The result may be the same.’

Today, it is easier than ever to be distracted—companies encourage it, and we are willing participants. The ubiquity of social media and the ease of an internet search allows advertisers to intrude on our online conversations and digital relationships. Recognising the diversionary overload (including the hyperlinks in this article), start-ups have now produced ‘read-it-later’ apps that help us organise our future distractions (assuming that we ever get round to them).

‘We were warned that Orwell’s big brother would be watching us; we ended up watching Big Brother. The result may be the same.’

The exponential increase in distractions may even be changing how our brains function. In a 2008 article, ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nicholas Carr asks whether the Internet is ‘chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.’ It’s becoming harder just to read a book, he notes. And it is surely no co-incidence that the US President rose through reality TV, crushing or circumventing the political establishment with a few 140-character tweets.

A time and a place to think

Senior decision makers are no less susceptible to distraction than are the customers they sell to. One recently promoted board member, when asked to explain what his new role involved, responded: ‘to work less and think more.’ This was no idle comment. He recalls an offsite training day designed to provide corporate leaders with the time and space to think deeply. It ended in chaos after a smartphone ban prompted a walkout, with one participant harrumphing: ‘I don’t have time for this.’

We don’t just need the time to think, we need a place too. Richard Branson reportedly walks around his private lake when he needs to reflect deeply. For those unlucky enough not to own one, it’s hard to find sanctuary. Open plan offices are full of annoying telephone chatter. Homes have noisy children. Cafés suffer the hell of other people’s conversation, not to mention roadside drilling and passing police sirens. Large parks are no good if it rains.

Could the solution lie in yet more technology? For example, virtual reality (VR) is often touted as an effective learning tool. But its value lies not in creating a believable practice world, but rather in eliminating real-world distractions. John Fecci, commercial director at elearning studios, reckons that users can learn a speech three times faster with VR because it commands their undivided attention. Will we come to rely on VR and other such technologies when we can no longer muster the power to think for ourselves?

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Share

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Copy the link

Abbie Hoffmann, the 1960’s counter-culture activist, once boasted that he could make unsympathetic news about his ‘Chicago Eight’ trial disappear from the front pages. The next day, he arrived at court doing handstands. The media loved it, he stole the headlines, the distraction worked.

Like Hoffmann, political and corporate leaders have always understood the power – and danger – of distraction. Industrial scale fake news from Russia and China is less about getting readers to believe the falsehoods than to divert attention from the real story.

The tobacco industry, in funding Nobel-prize winning scientific research on genetics, viruses, immunology and air pollution, was not making their case for cigarettes, but diverting attention from the debate altogether.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World suggested that we will be controlled through our distractions. As Claire Masson, FT|IE Corporate Learning Alliance’s head of learning impact observes: ‘We were warned that Orwell’s Big Brother would be watching us; but we’ve ended up watching Big Brother. The result may be the same.’

Today, it is easier than ever to be distracted—companies encourage it, and we are willing participants. The ubiquity of social media and the ease of an internet search allows advertisers to intrude on our online conversations and digital relationships. Recognising the diversionary overload (including the hyperlinks in this article), start-ups have now produced ‘read-it-later’ apps that help us organise our future distractions (assuming that we ever get round to them).

‘We were warned that Orwell’s big brother would be watching us; we ended up watching Big Brother. The result may be the same.’

The exponential increase in distractions may even be changing how our brains function. In a 2008 article, ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nicholas Carr asks whether the Internet is ‘chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.’ It’s becoming harder just to read a book, he notes. And it is surely no co-incidence that the US President rose through reality TV, crushing or circumventing the political establishment with a few 140-character tweets.

A time and a place to think

Senior decision makers are no less susceptible to distraction than are the customers they sell to. One recently promoted board member, when asked to explain what his new role involved, responded: ‘to work less and think more.’ This was no idle comment. He recalls an offsite training day designed to provide corporate leaders with the time and space to think deeply. It ended in chaos after a smartphone ban prompted a walkout, with one participant harrumphing: ‘I don’t have time for this.’

We don’t just need the time to think, we need a place too. Richard Branson reportedly walks around his private lake when he needs to reflect deeply. For those unlucky enough not to own one, it’s hard to find sanctuary. Open plan offices are full of annoying telephone chatter. Homes have noisy children. Cafés suffer the hell of other people’s conversation, not to mention roadside drilling and passing police sirens. Large parks are no good if it rains.

Could the solution lie in yet more technology? For example, virtual reality (VR) is often touted as an effective learning tool. But its value lies not in creating a believable practice world, but rather in eliminating real-world distractions. John Fecci, commercial director at elearning studios, reckons that users can learn a speech three times faster with VR because it commands their undivided attention. Will we come to rely on VR and other such technologies when we can no longer muster the power to think for ourselves?

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Douglas K. Duncan , Angel R. Hoekstra , Bethany R. Wilcox

Astronomy Education Review Volume 11 , Number 1 , December 2012 ISSN 1539-1515

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Abstract

The recent increase in use of digital devices such as laptop computers, iPads, and web-enabled cell phones has generated concern about how technologies affect student performance. Combining observation, survey, and interview data, this research assesses the effects of technology use on student attitudes and learning. Data were gathered in eight introductory science courses at a major university. Results show a significant negative correlation between in-class phone use and final grades, with use of cell phones corresponding to a drop of 0.36 plus or minus 0.08 on a 4-point scale where 4.0 = A. These findings are consistent with research (Ophir, Nass, and Wagner 2009, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” 106, 15583) suggesting students cannot multitask nearly as effectively as they think they can. While 75% of students reported regular cell phone use, observation suggests undergraduates typically underreport the frequency of their in-class use of digital devices. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)

Citation

Duncan, D.K., Hoekstra, A.R. & Wilcox, B.R. (2012). Digital Devices, Distraction, and Student Performance: Does In-Class Cell Phone Use Reduce Learning?. Astronomy Education Review, 11 (1), 10108. Retrieved June 22, 2021 from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/88569/.

Keywords

  • academic achievement
  • College Science
  • Correlation
  • information technology
  • Interviews
  • Laptop Computers
  • learning
  • Observation
  • science education
  • student attitudes
  • Surveys
  • Task Analysis
  • Telecommunications
  • undergraduate students

Cited By

Learning in the Age of Distraction

Karl Bernard Sebire, Sue Gregory & Michelle Bannister-Tyrrell, University of New England, Australia

EdMedia + Innovate Learning 2018 (Jun 25, 2018) pp. 467–472

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Is the world getting us more distracted? More often than not, it feels that way. Our digital devices are buzzing at all times, world news demands our attention 24/7, and there are countless entertainment opportunities than ever before. With that, it certainly seems harder to focus on what’s really important. While distracted driving can kill, understanding how to stay focused is exactly what it takes to get things done and get ahead.

The state of being distracted might appear more available than ever, but it is nothing new. Over 2,000 years ago, Socrates and Aristotle debated the nature of “akrasia” (pronounced uh-crazy-uh) our tendency to act against our better judgement. To the ancient Greeks, mere mortals were prone to distraction due to our weakness of will. Easy for them to say — Socrates and Aristotle never had to resist binge-watching “Game of Thrones.”

Can Distraction Be a Good Thing?

Is distraction a curse or a blessing? Not giving full attention to what we should be doing makes us miss deadlines, fail classes, and crash into other drivers. Being easily distracted has a price. Nonetheless, we love our distractions! Social media, spectator sports, movies, books, TV shows, the news, video games – what would we do without them?

Clearly, there are benefits to distractions as evidenced by the fact that nearly everyone on earth seeks them out. But why? Although they seem to pull us away from more important things, what purpose do they serve? And, when at times we seem to give in to distractions, how do we ensure they serve us well?

When are Distractions Destructive ?

Distractions can help us deal with pain. But what about the many products and services, like video games and social media sites, designed to be so good we want to use them all the time? Sometimes we have trouble limiting their use and find ourselves sucked into distractions.

Your ability to identify why and how you engage with personal technology can make the difference between healthy and destructive behavior. Take a look at your favorite digital activities. Look at how you use social media, video games, puzzles, television shows, podcasts, news, and spectator sports. Are you using them as tools to build strength, skills, knowledge, and self-efficacy for the future? Are you using them to be temporarily distracted to escape from an uncomfortable reality? If it’s the latter, you may want to reconsider the role these distractions play in your life. If the pain you’re escaping is permanent, no distraction will ever heal it. You must either learn new coping strategies or fundamentally fix what is broken.

How Can We Manage Digital Distraction?

Personal technology is getting more engaging than ever. There’s no doubt companies are engineering their products and services to be more compelling and attractive. But would we want it any other way? The intended result of making something better is that people use it more. That’s not necessarily a problem, that’s progress.

These improvements don’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to control our use of technology. In order to make sure it doesn’t control us, we should come to terms with the fact that it’s more than the technology itself that’s responsible for our habits. Our workplace culture, social norms and individual behaviors all play a part. To put technology in its place, we must be conscious not only of how technology is changing, but also of how it is changing us.

Still distracted? Check out our articles on digital distractions to better understand the underlying psychology and how to effectively manage digital distraction by putting it in its place.

Teaching in the Age of Digital Distractions

This is a replay – accessible in your own time, at any time.

DURATION

2 hours and 25 minutes

WHERE

On your computer or touchscreen device

SUITABLE FOR

This seminar is suitable for all primary and secondary school teachers and allied health workers working with kids aged 4-17 years.

Individual: $89 +GST

All Staff Pass: $1500 +GST

An “All Staff Pass” allows all staff members from your school to access the webinar, webinar replay and participation certificate.

ACCREDITATION

Completing Teaching in the Age of Digital Distractions will contribute 2 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Registered PD addressing Standards 1.1.2, 1.2.2, 2.6.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

YOU’LL GET:

// Access to the 2 hour webinar replay video
// PDF summary sheet
// A link to access the replay so you can watch as many times as you like
// A certificate of attendance (once you have watched the webinar live or replay and completed the quiz)

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Here’s a sneak peak of the webinar:

REGISTER NOW FOR IMMEDIATE ACCESS

Individual attendance

All Staff Pass

( Note all prices are in Australian dollars and exclude GST. When you sign up you will automatically be added to my email list where I’ll send you monthly (or thereabouts) updates .)

Need an invoice for your school?

Please complete the info below and an invoice will be generated for you.

Teachers are really concerned that today’s students are finding it harder and harder to pay attention, in the digital age. Attention is constantly diverted as kids have grown accustomed to tap, swipe, and jump in and out of apps with multiple web browsers open at all times.

Attention management is THE most CRITICAL SKILL students MUST develop in their screen-saturated world. (Without it, they’ll get seduced by the screen and their attention will be hijacked).

Many teachers accept that technology is here to stay (and can in fact be a valuable learning tool when used effectively), so digital abstinence is not the answer. In this seminar, Kristy will arm you with practical strategies you can use immediately in your classroom to minimise digital distractions and empower your students to form healthy tech habits so they’re in control of their screens not a slave to them.

This webinar is designed for primary and secondary teachers and allied health professionals working with students aged 4-17 years. Dr Kristy Goodwin, a former teacher, lecturer at Macquarie University and Notre Dame University, author and digital health, learning and wellbeing expert will debunk the myths to deliver the latest research-based facts about students’ waning attention spans.

This 2 hour webinar is designed for both primary and secondary teachers and covers:

// Why it’s so difficult for students to pay attention today (hint- tech has been designed to prey on their psychological vulnerabilities, caters for their three most basic human psychological needs and causes students to experience neurobiological changes)

// How screens are compromising students’ attention spans

// Why attention management is THE most critical 21st century learning skill

// Practical and easy ways to stop screens from hijacking students’ attention spans in the classroom and at home.

This 2-hour webinar has been designed for primary and secondary teachers and allied health professionals working with kids aged 4-17 years. Dr Kristy, a former teacher, author and digital health, learning and wellbeing expert will debunk the myths and arm attendees with research-based information about students’ waning attention spans. Kristy will arm teachers with a wealth of practical strategies that they can immediately implement in their classroom to minimise digital distractions and empower kids to form healthy tech habits (where they’re in control and not a slave to the screen).

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

  • Posted May 31, 2018
  • in Digital Employee Experience, Digital Workplace, Internal Communications, Operational Communications, Publishing

Today, we consume information and entertainment at lightning speed. We’re hooked on snackable media like YouTube, Instagram, and our favorite news apps. And while this is happening, more, and more workers are remote and disconnected from corporate headquarters. How do we communicate in this world of new expectations and low employee engagement?

Leadership is changing

Employees are demanding more authenticity, more transparency, and more directness. Our new Video Like a Boss series is for leaders and communicators who understand internal communications is at a crossroads. It’s time to evolve or get left behind.

This is a no-bullshit guide based on three years of trying, sometimes failing, and ultimately perfecting the techniques we use ourselves. Now it’s time to share. Ready to be awesome?

What is the age of distraction?

Attention spans are at an all-time low while distractions are at an all-time high—the average person checks their mobile phone over 150 times a day . Work happens between a string of interruptions—from Buzzfeed chatter on Slack or Facebook to the constant buzz of notifications from Twitter and Instagram. With all this noise, it’s hard for your team to pay attention to you.

Like it or not, this is the world you must lead in. But it doesn’t have to be a losing battle. You can be heard. You can get your team’s attention. You can keep everyone on the same page. But you’ll need to make your communications more succinct, more compelling, and more consistent. The one way we’ve found to actually pull this off is video. It’s the only way you can truly get their attention in the Age of Distraction.

Who the hell are we?

I am the founder of SocialChorus, a platform for modern employee communications. We are revolutionizing how companies connect with their employees with an app that they actually want to use every day.

My co-creator, Edmundo Oretga is a partner at Sequitur, a strategic branding firm. He helps companies, large and small, align their leadership and employees around the things that matter most to their customers.

Together we’re experts in telling good stories and getting teams excited, motivated, and aligned.

Why did we make this?

We saw a problem. Great leaders aren’t using their most effective tool to communicate because they feel intimidated, afraid to fail, and unsure of how to do it right. Sound familiar? Read on.

Why video?

Digitally native bosses need to communicate frequently, authentically, and in the channels where their employees actually live. As workers become more consumerized, that means reaching out weekly, via video, and on mobile—the places where they actually pay attention.

Who should do this?

Anyone who leads a team of ten people to ten thousand people (or more), especially if you’re not in one office.

Do it for your team

Nobody wants to read another email. People want easy. They want quick. They want sound bites. They want to consume. In today’s connected yet distracted world, a video is the one medium that cuts through all the noise.

Do it for yourself

The skills required to make a good video— condensing your message into a short, compelling, and emotionally connected moment—are exactly the things you need to get recognized, get heard, and get ahead. You should use these same techniques and templates in your all-hands meetings, video conference calls, and board meetings!

How long will it take?

After 3 hours for the initial learning curve, it should take about 15 minutes per video – or even less after you have done a bunch.

Some interesting stats*:

  • Video has 3X higher CTRs than other types of content.
  • Video contributes to keeping 53% more employees remaining active after their first 30 days.
  • Video contributes to getting 60% more users to come back to the app twice or more a week.

*2017 SocialChorus User Data

How to learn effectively in the age of digital distraction

Our POV

This is not about making the once-a-year, big-deal, announcement with teleprompters, hot lights, and a video production crew. This is about getting to the point where making your own weekly video is so routine that it’s nearly effortless.

This is about B+ is better than A+. Especially since if you aim for A+, you will never actually get the video done – or maybe you can make A+ a couple times a year – but that’s the old way. Don’t be that leader.

Your goal should be to make a good video that actually gets done, not a perfect video that costs loads of money, requires specialized talent, and takes forever to finish.

To us, a good video is not defined by its production quality. You can easily make a well-produced video that still sucks to watch. A good video is one that successfully communicates your message and feels authentic, timely, and relevant to the viewer, regardless of the lighting or camerawork.

What you should worry about

Nothing. Seriously. Almost everyone who attends our workshops feels intimidated because they’re worried about what to say, how they’ll look on camera, or how good their video will turn out. This series is all about overcoming those issues by providing you a foolproof recipe for creating a good, easy-to-make, and watchable video.

We are inspired by the millions of videos that ordinary people make every day on social media. These are not expensive, overproduced, or professionally shot affairs. But they are short, engaging, and easy to watch.

With this blog series and a little practice, you’ll be making videos like that too and connecting with your team like never before.

In my next installment, I’ll explain my TWIN strategy for creating the best topics for videos. And if you can’t make our next in-person event, download our Video Like a Boss webinar recording now.