Learning How I Learn

So as I am now nearly halfway through the PIDP program at VCC, perhaps it’s time for another post!  I really can’t believe how much I have learned so far, and how much I now question because of this program.

As part of Media Enhanced Learning, we are required to engage in an online forum discussion (my nightmare, but, you know, I get it).  Someone started a discussion about laptops in the class, and most people agreed that it was distracting for students and teacher alike.

So I had to disagree.

I have always struggled to maintain my attention and focus in any situation where I have to sit still and listen.  I hate long meetings, used to fall asleep during any video presentations in classes, and simply wouldn’t go to lectures if I’d determined that I could get the same content out of the text on my own time.  I loved my chemistry teacher in high school because he would let me colour during class (like, I actually brought a colouring book and pencil crayons to class).  I contributed during discussions, helped other students, and had the highest grade in the class.  But while he was talking, I was colouring.

One thing that I’ve realized over time is that I work better when a little bit distracted.  What I used to do out of desperation to keep myself awake during class, I now do on purpose to help myself listen or learn.  In meetings at work I doodle:

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1882127,00.html

http://nypost.com/2014/02/22/why-doodling-is-a-habit-you-dont-need-to-break/

When I’m working on administrative tasks at work, or a reflection (or this very discussion post) at home,  I listen to:

https://coffitivity.com/#research

My personal feelings on laptops/smartphones in the classroom is that – if people are facebooking or texting or whatever, it could be that they are just taking a short and necessary mental break or they are providing themselves with a distraction that actually helps them.

Or, maybe they are bored.  And isn’t chronic boredom in class a symptom of a bigger, but fixable problem?  On the flip side of classes that I fell asleep in, there were classes that I wouldn’t miss, that I loved so much – there was even one that I used to make sure I attended the lecture, and then I would listen to it again later on my ipod!  I think that if we do our best to create lessons that are genuinely engaging, issues with technology being distracting will be minimal.

I tried to find research that might explore whether the benefits of doodling might extend to other types of distractions in the classroom but couldn’t find anything.  Maybe I’ll go back to school and run that study.  But I did find this little blog post that I enjoyed (read all the comments too – what a battle of opinions, it’s really interesting to see all viewpoints!):

http://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=1925038

This is one of the wonderful side effects of being in this program – I am learning how I best learn.  Now please, everyone – speak up, talk among yourselves… I have a paper to write.

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