Clickers and Other Digital Media in the Classroom: Watch out for the Thin Line Between Constructive and Distracting Technologies!

Posted: October 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

One important questions that constantly came to my mind in thinking about the digital tools for this week was how to differentiate between distracting and constructive technologies, when it comes to applying multimedia in teaching. This reminded me of digital performance and installation art practice. Many times using more modalities, if not created as well as the others can be distracting and can take away from the piece. For instance if the piece is centered around an expansive experimentation with the haptic technology and spatial audio, adding visuals to the piece can take away from the strength and sharpness of the piece. It would take away from the focus of the audience members on what truly is important. Plus, the visuals most likely would not be powerful enough and properly interactive with the other modalities, and therefore, would weaken the piece and the perceptual attention of the audience members.

The same thing can be seen in teaching using multimedia. If a technology is not appropriate or is applied without addressing the right issue, it can frustrate the students and distracts them from the core of the subject. For instance, some times using clickers in a classroom can create chaos and take the students’ attention to an insignificant question. It can also distract them by bringing their attention to the other students’ responses and the percentages for every option, which in spite of being interactive and motivational in a few cases, can be distracting in many other cases and take away from the cohesive and productive discussion or interactions in the class. Therefore, even though no technology is necessarily distracting by nature, it can be rather destructive if not applied properly.

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