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Attention in e-learning (part I)

E-learning in pandemic

Right now, I can probably guess what a teacher's worst nightmares is. Being thrust into the absolute logistical nightmare that is the pandemic and its effects on in person education, the current education climate (their best efforts not withstanding) is nowhere near its normal counterpart. And this likely stems not from the lack of effort and trying from the teachers, the messed up schedules, the lack of hands on and personal activities, or other vital necessities that normal learning provides, but rather something far more fleeting: a student's attention.



“How to balance between students’s attention and schoolwork itself?

A live example

Put a kid in a classroom like myself, and I will pay attention in class. Not because I'm an amazing student and want to learn, but rather because I have no choice. Dozing off in class, paying little attention, or playing games is pretty impossible in the in person setting, because it's blatantly obvious when I'm doing so. And this pretty much goes for every single kid in school. I can count on one hand the amount of people I know who show up to school actually 'ready to learn'. Most of us would much rather be on our phones, doing the things that teenagers do in our free time rather than learn the fundamental theorem of calculus, but since we physically can not, we have no choice but to pay attention.

However, the pandemic just had to go and ruin the previous precious balance between the student's attention and schoolwork itself. Now that everything is online, it is never been easy to completely forget about class. I can log into my zoom room, turn on my camera, and stare directly at it. To my teacher I'm present and ready to learn; in reality I'm watching clips of people playing chess and CS:GO. But they're none the wiser. How could they be? Ask me a question about what they just talked about, I'll respond saying that my internet cut out and didn't hear what they said, all while furiously texting my classmates what he was talking about earlier. They can't prove I'm lying, and as long as my grades stay stable and I turn in my homework, they also can't prove I'm not actually paying attention in class. Lectures, a staple of school culture and the cause of loathing in all students, myself included, have turned into a gaming session where I can completely tune out my teacher while hopping on Discord with some friends to run some quick matches. Common tactics to promote attention in a normal classroom do not apply over the internet.

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