Multitasking: learning to text and teach at the same time

Dennis Baron debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU
Fri Jan 22 03:14:48 UTC 2010

There's a new post on the Web of Language --  Multitasking: learning  
to text and teach at the same time

Most of my students belong to the digital generation, so they are  
proficient multitaskers. They take notes in class, participate in  
discussion, text on their cell phones, and surf on their laptops, not  
sequentially but all at once. True, they’re not listening to their  
iPods in class, and they may find that inconvenient, since they like a  
soundtrack accompanying them as they go through life. But they’re  
taking advantage of every other technology they can cram into their  
backpacks. They claim it helps them learn, even if their parents and  
teachers are not convinced.

Recently one of my students, a college senior, added to this panoply  
of technology an older form of classroom inattention: while I explored  
the niceties of English grammar, he was doing homework for another  
class. When I asked him to put away the homework and pay attention, he  
replied that he was paying attention, just multitasking to maximize  
efficiency. “I can multitask too,” I said, taking out my cell phone  
and starting to text as I went on with the lesson....

You can multitask too, by reading the rest of this post on the Web of  
Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

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