As we went through the session, some of his pointers made sense and helped me make better use of the Collaborate session. His point was about multitasking (and I suppose attention-wandering).
He described having "attention probes" in a class or lecture situation - devices to ensure that attention is where it should be - for achieving concentration, mindfulness and metacognition. This is an important point since if attention is not there, learning is not going to be there. We have tried some experiments with this (having computer stations facing back wall with swivel chairs, or "close screens: commands for laptops) but ultimately it is the learner who should be monitoring their attention. What techniques are there for use in classrooms? Any ideas?
Rheingold used the term Infotention for this type of attention to task. Here is his list of points for training yourself and others for improving this skill (his point is that though multitasking is difficult, combat pilots and others do it, so it is a matter of training and it becoming instilled):
- Make better, faster microdecisions:
- Ignore or attend?
- Open a tab for later?
- Tag or bookmark for much later?
- Match attention to toolset:
- Spatial arrangements
- Keep goal(s) visible (piece of paper in a visible place, even)
- Start small, cultivate habits
"Attention to intention is how the mind changes the brain" says Rheingold. It worked for me.