Teacher Apps for Fighting Digital Distraction and Managing Online Time

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March 29, 2016
In his pioneering book 'The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction' , Alan Jacobs
described the 21st century as The Age of Distraction and he was completely right. We are living in digitally focused environments where we try to attend to every little buzz coming from digital media. This undermines our sense of attention and focus and threatens our overall productivity. As an example, compare online reading with print-based reading. While the latter promotes a linear and deep reading, the earlier is more convenient for scanning and skimming because to read a lengthy block of text on screens without being distracted  becomes as challenging as reading Odyssey or ILiad.  Nicholas Carr has eloquently captured this reading dilemma in his popular book ‘The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing to Our Brains’ and here is what he said about his personal experience with reading:
"Over the last few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I feel it most strongly when I’m reading. I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or a lengthy article. My mind would get caught up in the twists of the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel like I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle. I think I know what’s going on. For well over a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet." (Kindle Location, 142)
In the face of this increasing digital encroachment into our personal life, it behooves us to be aware of how we spend our time interacting with the digital world and work toward developing a critical consciousness that would allow us to wisely tackle these distractions. Ironically enough, one way to do so is through the use of technology itself. There are now a wide range of apps you can use on your iOS operated devices to help you keep track of how much time you spend on your tasks and activities. Below are some of our favourite apps we recommend for teachers and educators for more options , check out this page:

1- Pomodoro

'Pomodoro is a very simple yet powerful time management tool to help you enhance your productivity. Pomodoro is a timer that enables you to set specific blocks of time for each task you want to work on. The principle behind Pomodoro is that things are done more effectively when taken in short bursts.'

2- Timely

‘Timely is a simple and beautiful way to keep track of how much time you spend on tasks and projects. You can plan ahead and then log how much you spent working. It's scheduling and time tracking, simultaneously. By integrating your iPhone calendars into Timely, all your meetings will automatically be imported as well.’

3- DropTime 

DropTime is a countdown timer designed for the Pomodoro Technique. It sets up a loop sequence of timers and records how much time you spent on a task.The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals. It’s a productivity method that helps you to stay focused on your task.

4- Glass Planner

‘In Glass, you manage your tasks right in your calendar, where you can schedule them into your day. And when it’s time to get things done, Glass shines. Just touch the ACT switch, and Glass transforms your calendar into a streamlined action list. You see only today’s appointments, and only those upcoming tasks you can act on now, all sorted by priority. All other distractions are eliminated. It's an automatic, intelligent life planner that lets you think months ahead or sharpen your focus to the next few hours.’

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