Will Multitasking become a 21st Century Skill?

This week we are encouraged to think about the idea of multitasking and question how productive we are when we multi-task. The following video is a spoof on multitasking that encourages us to actually think about life while multitasking (if we can focus on this one task of watching a video that is).

My life as a mother, wife, teacher and grad student is about as ‘multi’ as it comes. I really cannot imagine what life would be like if I was to ‘single task’ as I would fear for everyone’s safety and health. I really don’t think I could step back and only focus on one task at a time. I truly can’t imagine what a ‘one tab’ life would look like and how it would feel like at this busy point in my life.

The reality for me is, I feel that multitasking is a skill that students need to learn how to manage. Although when looking at the question ““Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?,” I think we can agree that the answer to this question can swing in both directions. Yes, it can be a distraction and yes it can be a productivity tool based on how we are educated to use it. In her blog post this week Kelsey mentioned three things that I find so fitting for teaching students how to be productive when using the internet. She shared that students need to learn self-discipline, time management, and self-awareness in order to use online tools to their fullest potential. If we fail to teach these skill the internet will instead become a distraction rather than a tool.

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As presented last week in the presentations, we learned about the many productivity tools that the internet has to offer. When looking at many of these tools it is easy to see that they overlap in some area of another. It seems that if we were to use these tools to their fullest potential that we would have to multitask to some extent. It is important that students understand how all of these tools can work together to help them further their learning. In order to successfully use these tools, their full potential students will need to learn to multitask in order to move from one program to another.

I wholeheartedly agree with Kyla this week when she shares that it all comes down to finding a balance. She shares, “We cannot over-rely on the internet but we also shouldn’t underutilize it”. I couldn’t agree more. We need to teach students to find a balance that allows them to utilize the internet to its full potential but where it is not overwhelming them and causing a distraction. It is our job as teachers to prepare our students for their future by helping them to build the skills they will need to be productive members of society. Having the ability to multi-task without being distracted I feel is no doubt a skill that students will need to work on and build in school.

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Teaching students how to multitask is a skill that will help with their digital skills. In the article “Can Kids Multitask” it is evident that our kids are growing up in a multitasking generation. They share that in order for students to be wired for the web they need to have multitasking skills. When kids are on the web they are bombarded with many messages, information, and data that they will have to learn to sift through at a quick pace. Multitasking allows students to quickly surf websites scanning and sorting information deciding if this website is worth reading fully or if they should move on to another. The article states, “our brains get better and better at synthesizing and evaluating information at lightning speeds. This is an important skill in the digital age and is useful a lot of the time.”

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I feel that multitasking is a skill that is useful for students. I feel that the reality of focusing on a single task at a time is no longer a sustainable reality. In order for students to be successful in our ever-changing fast-paced world, they will, in fact, need to learn how to use the internet as a productivity tool while avoiding the multiple distractions online. Focusing on teaching and building self-discipline, time management, self-awareness, and balance will help students navigate this world successfully. As teachers, we have a responsibility to help students build these skills so they can be successful with completing tasks that they will likely need in order to be successful in the future. Will multitasking make the list of 21st-century skills? I feel that in the future this word could hit the list of those key skills.






About cdegelman

Grade 3/4 teacher at Douglas Park School in Regina, Saskatchewan
This entry was posted in EC&I 833. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Will Multitasking become a 21st Century Skill?

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing the article “Can Kids Multitask?” I found it especially interesting to read about the results of the performed study. The group of students who were not allowed access to the internet during the lecture performed better on the comprehension assessment then the group of students who were allowed access. I suppose the group of students who were allowed access to the internet did not have the self-discipline skills that we are suggesting the next generation of technology users should have. It would be interesting to make a concrete list of skills and practices that we need to be teaching students when considering tech usage and productivity.


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