Technology, Part Two

Smartphone Technology

Smartphone Technology

This is a very brief follow up on ‘Technology, Part One‘ which was posted a month or so ago. I spotted this article on the BBC which discusses research out of the US which suggests that ‘students cannot multitask with mobiles and study’. The study, entitled ‘Mobile Phones in the Classroom’, looked at 145 undergraduates and examined the effect of facing interruptions from their phones while they had to watch a video lecture and take notes/answer questions from the video. There was a substantial fall in effectiveness in those who were using their phones. An interesting line at the end of the article says that other research suggests that it is low-achieving pupils who are most likely to be distracted by phones.

So, what does this mean for deaf people? Well on one level, its a no-brainer. I mean, in a teaching environment, if I take my eyes off the lecturer/interpreter (or whatever) to check my phone then I’m paying even less attention to what’s going on than a hearing person listening with half an ear. In a teaching environment, the phone goes on silent and stays in my bag.

But what about outside of a teaching environment? What about when you’re watching a video with subtitles, with the pause button available, or you’re taking notes from a book you’re reading, or trying to write something? Then, deaf people are operating on the same level as hearing people … with the same problem when it comes to interruptions from phones, social media and the like. It becomes important that you’re able to exercise a little self-control and not look at your phone to allow you to focus on whatever it is that you need to do at that point.

So. Here are six suggestions for this:

1) set a timer. This works well for revision-type tasks, where you should only really study in short bursts anyway (research has shown that revision done this way is more effective). This is popularly known as the pomodoro technique – if you google that, you’ll find lots of how-to sites on that technique. You can also do this with a set task, rather than a time, which isn’t too long and you know roughly how long it’ll take. e.g. read through and do notes for a chapter, or a set number of pages.

2) allied to this is making a plan for the day – work through your plan diligently, taking your breaks, and try to vary the kind of work you do – or at least, vary where you do them, or how you do them. When memorialising something, for example, stomping up and down and chanting is a tactic that works, even if you do feel a bit stupid (probably best NOT done around annoying little brothers).

3) put your phone on the other side of the room, or in a different room altogether. Out of sight, out of mind.

4) turn it over/down/away on your desk, so that even if a message does come in, you won’t see it.

5) give it to someone else! Parent, partner, friend. that way they can keep an eye on it and tell you if a super important email comes in, but ignores everything else.

6) if you really cannot be without your phone – e.g. you’re waiting for an important email – consider turning off notifications, or worst comes to the worst, actually removing apps like facebook and twitter from your phone for the duration. There are also vibrating apps like Good Vibrations which you can apparently use to tailor your phone’s responses to various things – so you can set it to vibrate when you get a text message from superduperimportant person, but blank everything else. I haven’t tried this myself though, so please take this recommendation with a large pinch of salt.

Oh, and it goes without saying: if you’re struggling with phone interruptions, and you’re trying out these techniques, DON’T have facebook/email etc. up on your computer while you work! Be disciplined – shut that stuff down!

Short moral of the story? Make your phone work for you. Don’t be ruled by it! Technology is great, but only if it helps, rather than harms.