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9-12 | Science & Tech | Online community tools

My Classroom Innovation

One of the boldest claims that my high school students make is that they are way more talented at multitasking than people from my generation. I admit that I’m terrible at multitasking, but that still doesn’t convince me that they are any better at it. I watched Frontline’s Digital Nation and had an idea. My classroom uses Moodle as a classroom management tool, but it also includes a full classroom chat feature. I had my students open the chat window on one side of their screens, and the streaming version of Digital Nation on the other. We watched and chatted simultaneously while Digital Nation talked about teens who think they are good at multitasking. The chat window was filled with distracting comments (many from me), as we backchanneled the video. Afterwards, I had them blog everything they could remember about the content of the video. Their blogs were practically empty. I proved to them, with the help of Digital Nation, that multitasking decreases focus and retention. I would say that by asking students to multitask while watching a video about multitasking is innovative because it emphasizes the importance of slowing down and focusing on the job at hand.

How Students were Engaged

When students are excited about a project, they don’t talk. However, with this project, the task was to talk! The backchannel, similar to one on a sports television show or an MTV reality show, was filled with student comments. They were really excited about the show, and were eager to comment on the video. They really wanted to prove me wrong, but weren’t expecting me to ask them to recall content. They fell into my trap, which was a great way to have the lesson about multitasking stick in their heads.

PBS Program/Content Used

Frontline's Digital Nation