Possibilities and limitations of digital multitasking for school homework
Palabras clave:ICT, Digital multitasking, Hypertextuality, Working memory, Computer literacy, Internet use, Academic achievement, Digital entertainment, Reflexivity
The digitisation of the classroom and the increased use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) at home offer ways to improve students’ educational performance. Yet misuse of the Internet and increased digital multitasking at home, where academic study and entertainment intersect, could create barriers towards academic achievement. Based on the concept of “Cognitive Load Theory” and taking a qualitative approach rooted in Critical Communicative Methodology (CCM), this study aims to examine this topic in more depth. After interviewing four focus groups consisting of 40 students from 5th and 6th grade Elementary and 1st and 2nd Grade ESO (“Educación Secundaria Obligatoria”/Compulsory Secondary Education), results revealed that students are accustomed to using computers in environments where digital study and digital entertainment are both available. Students see learning possibilities on the screen in front of them, but are also aware of the distractions in this kind of mixed, instantly available environment. This study suggests that multitasking skills should be taught formally in order to avoid students pursuing a syncopated mix of online work and social media use. Faced with this reality of how students work, the study proposes that instead of teachers focusing exclusively on formal instruction, they should offer a measured/controlled approach to multitasking activities within a reflexive, hyperlinked environment. This is the first tentative conclusion from what will be a wider, more detailed investigation involving teachers, administrators and families all within the same school in Barcelona.