Monday, March 9, 2009

Super Student!: The Art of Multitasking

On any given evening you will find me on my computer while watching television. I’m usually talking to friends on MSN while also working on online assignments. There’s also a good chance that I could be texting back and forth with either my sister or one of my best friends. The funny thing is that most of the time I don’t even realize how many different types of technology that I’m using.
If you watched the video “A Vision of Students Today” mentioned a couple of posts ago, you’ll know that that students don’t have enough time in one day to cram everything in that we’re supposed to do. This is why we have to multitask. It’s the only way we’ll come close to accomplishing everything. I want to be able to chat with my friends on MSN but I also have to find books for essays, write blog posts and comments, and type up assignments. I have to do all that, plus my favourite television show is on (I’m a rare breed of student since I still watch my television shows on an actual television).
Most students with laptops won’t bat an eyelash when they sit down to watch a movie and have their computer with them, either to do homework or to just surf online. Students become so accustomed to making sure that they get everything done that they (at least in my case) can’t quite slow down enough to just do one thing at a time.
There is the question, of course, of whether or not multitasking is actually beneficial. Some would say that trying to do four things at once will actually take more time than if you only focus on one thing at a time. Do students think about that? I didn’t really. I think that my belief seems to be that if I am using technology to do all these different things, than it must be faster and more efficient. I am probably completely wrong, especially is this article is to be believed. They say that doing many things at once actually slows us down. Once I read that I realized that when I try to do homework and watch a television show at the same time I am actually taking more time to do that than if I watched the show and then did my work afterwards. It definitely makes me feel more productive though if I have some sort of work with me when I’m watching television or a movie even though I am barely getting anything accomplished.
There’s also the question of students suffering from shorter attention spans because of the multitasking they frequently engage in. I don’t really think that’s the case, especially not for university students. We’re not working on a ton of different things because we just can’t concentrate; we’re multitasking because we have that much to do. I think part of it has to do with the way our lives are currently structured. We have five classes (usually) that we are supposed to keep up on while also trying to maintain some semblance of a life. Just trying to attend all of our classes and do all the work required means constantly shifting from one class mindset to another. Can anyone really blame us when we have so many things on the go at once?
I think technology definitely plays a part in how we multitask. Most people have cell phones or other devices that sometimes require constant attention. Laptops allow us to bring our work (or play) with us everywhere so we can access it when we need to. Once we’ve brought our laptop with us we can do work using several different programs, depending on your assignment, go online to play games, talk with friends, or do research, and we can play music on our computers as well. As great as all this technology is in assisting us with our work, I think there is something to be said about just doing one thing at a time and focusing our efforts.
Almost every single student is guilty of multitasking. I do it frequently. Right now I am finishing this post, talking on MSN and watching a rerun on television…what was I saying again…?

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