As I said yesterday in The 21st Century Search Skills every Teacher should Know about, todays post will be cover another literacy skill as included in Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. Howard named this skill ' attention ' or ' infotention' which is the attention we pay to information.
Learning to stay focused with the maximum attention on a certain task is very hard to attain especially with the flood of stimulants coming from social media and the craving one nurtures for these outlets. As a result , we started talking about multitasking and some wrongly think that this is an advantage for learners but scientific studies and researhces have clearly proved that multitasker pay a huge mental price. According to a study done by reseachers in Stanfod University, it is impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The brain just can't do it. People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attentionn, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as thoses who prefer to complete one task at a time.
Howard has provided some great tips for you to stay focused on your tasks and regain back your attention. Here is a list of what he mentioned in page 246 in Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.
1- Our hormones reward us for information seeking and social contact; they also trigger fight-or-flight physiological responses, although the stimuli that trigger the alarms are not actually threatening. Letting our attention and reactions to social media go uncontrolled can be harmful to our health.
2- Breathe , and ask yourself where your attention is directed. These two simple acts, taken together, are your first steps, and powerful levers for bringing your social media attention under control.
3- Mindfulness and metacognition are about becoming aware of how you are develoying yur attention, online or off
4- Attention to intention is how the mind changes the brain. When you repeat mental patterns, you stimulate networks of brain cells and organs to coordinate in ways that strengthen those circuits ( neurons that fire together wire together ), and make conscious sequences of actions into automatic ensembles-like learning to read- except that now you are learning to manage attention in the face of social media opportunities for distraction. To say that social media affords distraction is not to say that technology has to be in control of your awareness, you can take control back, through repeated conscious efforts.
5- Like meditation, mindful use of social media begins with noticing when your attention has wandered, and then gently bringing it back to focus on your highest priorities, like training a puppy.
6- To establish new attention habits start small, find a place in your routine for a new behaviour, and repeat until paying attention has become habitual.