“The mere presence of a mobile phone was a distraction among infrequent internet users. However, among frequent internet users, the device might have served as a spatial cue from which their visual system starts searching the target.”
I taught at a college for twenty solid years. My first years were a big learning curve for me but eventually it settled down into a fairly predictable routine. I was pleased that I had built into my classes the opportunity, if it arose, for exploring side-interests as they came up either for the class content or events in the current moment world.
I taught four classes. Two for the Masters students, one for the middle undergrads and one Intro class to the new freshman class.
One year, to my dismay, the new freshman class could not be taught. They could not focus or sit still. If you made eye contact with one, you had the attention but all the others pulled out their phones. The Intro class was a lot of lecture and facts and history; this group of students were incapable of concentrating for than five minutes.
About a week or so into this new semester, we had an impromptu faculty meeting outside of our offices. Entitled! Brats! Some students almost went feral when confronted, snarling. Jerks! All of us were confused at this new thing. I was as upset as everyone else, what can I do to a class that can not keep any focus at all?
One teacher spoke and we listened. He explained that these kids have been raised in a multi-tasking world. They are used to flipping from phone to Facebook to homework to music very very fast. It is our job to teach them, we will have to change the way we teach.
We have to engage them, one on one. Lecturing in a large classroom will not work anymore. Speaking for ten minutes to draw that final conceptual conclusion is gone!
It was a shock. I went to my Dean and asked if my class could be split into two. I’d double my teaching if I could have a smaller class size. I started to do much more small group stuff so I could address groups of three and I’d rotate around the room while they worked on projects. It was a trip.
I’d like to say that as these students matured over the years in college and that they got better at focusing but the truth is that we changed the way we teach, so I’ll never know. The next year, the new freshman class — well, we were ready to cope with the constant distractions.
Today, I notice that very few of our raiders are under thirty years old. Certainly we have no teen-agers. Part of that is who we are, the education level in our raid group is pretty high; our resto shammy is a medical doctor. Almost everyone has a college degree or is in college. So, kids might not get into the groove with us, I can understand that.
And, really, the infamous WoW learning curve means that most of the gamers are pretty sharp even if their characters are flawed! Trolls with quick wit, that is what we have in WoW.
Can that distracted generation raid?
Can the under-thirty crowd who’ve been raised in a social media world play a game that needs extended attention and focus?
Could it mean that a game like the World of Warcraft is a haven for the “mostly adult”? How will the game itself evolve to serve it’s audience? Could it be that Mythic Plus speed runs were designed exactly for the younger mind-set?
What do you think?