Today in The Teacher’s Lounge: The Myth of Multitasking

I count myself as being among the Window’s Generation.

By that I mean that I am among the generation of people who grew up watching words like icon, window, system, menu, and multitasking be given new and graphic meanings that will forever link those terms to a computer. None of the terms listed were new words prior to 1984-ish, and for sometime afterwards, no reasonably informed person connect those words in any way unless the restaurant’s “menu” was posted in the “window” and gave the price of their unique and “iconic” food specialty. However, since the advent and acceptance of the Windows Operating System and the universal acceptance of GUIs (graphic user interface, pronounced gooey) as the primary means of humanity communing with their computing machines these words have become not only part of the technology lexicon, but also an organizational lens through which we view other areas like psychology, sociology and learning. The word of particular interest to students and learning in this podcast episode of The Teacher’s Lounge is “multitasking”. 

Since the introduction of Microsoft Windows and Apple’s graphical operating  system we have been told that productivity and efficiency is achieved through accomplishing multiple tasks at once. We can be word processing while entering data into a spreadsheet and then create visual charts to effectively communicate the data results in an electronic slide show. The more tasks that can be accomplished at once the more efficient and effective we can be. After 30 years and many more ever-shrinking yet more powerful electronic devices we believe the hype. The learning implications of multiple intelligences theory have both come and gone from the mainstream. We have filled our schools with devices loaded with programs, apps, extensions, resources, etc. and then wondered why our students seem to have a higher incidence of ADHD. We have believed the message that multitasking is the means to better teaching and learning.   

In this episode of The Teacher’s Lounge Ross, Bryan, and I talk about re-examining the idea of multitasking and how it effects students in our classrooms. We discuss how people have created multitasking environments, but how that environments does not always apply to students. We discuss as teachers how we must be mindful of limiting the number of mental “tabs” we expect students to keep track of in our classroom. Finally, we talk a bit about what research says is going on in our heads when we believe we are multitasking.

Check out TL004 The Mythical Multitasker




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