Keeping ADHD College Students off of Netflix

Technology based schoolwork is encouraging distraction and academic dishonesty.


Pen and paper assignments are a thing of the past in colleges and universities today. Big publishers like McGraw Hill and Pearson are rolling in money from students forced to buy online access codes for electronically graded homework assignments and quizzes. While I can see that a lecture professor certainly does not want to grade 100 homework assignments every night, they take advantage of Blackboard and make their students spend hundreds of dollars on e-books and access to homework online. With technology blazing a trail through modern work along comes a burst of attention problems because suddenly a student has Netflix or Hulu on one tab and their homework on another and I’m sure we all know which one wins. Additionally, without time limits on assignments or quizzes, it is phenomenally easy to open a new tab and google every single answer.

Abusing Blackboard

Professors love blackboard quizzes because the computer grades them and automatically inserts the grade into the system. This is great to be able to view your grade as soon as your submit the assessment but it probably took the student an hour if not more to answer the 10–15 multiple choice or matching questions. This happens because it takes time to find the answers on google of course, and also because their phone probably lit up a few dozen times with notifications from iMessage, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about that new artsy photo of their Starbucks cup or group photo with everyone looking dysfunctional holding red solo cups in someone’s basement. Professors may in fact be making things easier for themselves but the quiz scores are not indicative of the students’ knowledge of the material and without a time limit to pressure them into focusing they spend way too much time on their phones and laptops distracted.

McGraw Hill Connect

The connect program run through McGraw Hill is used by many science professors because the Learnsmart program adapts to the students. An article in the Wall Street Journal mentions “College enrollments [into the connect program] have continued to grow, while teachers and students have become more tech-savvy,” (Nolan). The program partnered with Blackboard and schools across the country are using the interactive Learnsmart homework and pictographic quizzes because the grades transfer right into the gradebook and they believe it is a better learning device than a physical textbook or in-class assessments. What I find interesting about Nolan’s claim is that teachers are becoming more tech-savvy. As a college student, I never can grasp the idea that the person lecturing me has at least one PhD but can’t figure out how to make a YouTube video go full-screen. Professors assign all this homework online but if it glitches, they are no help to the student because they are not able to use the program themselves. I would have to say I disagree with Nolan and I believe professors are not willing to adapt to the technology they are making their students use.

Surge of ADHD Diagnoses

Giving students easily accessible distractions through online homework and other assignments is slowly making that the social norm. Focusing on one single thing is no longer considered normal because the community thinks that multitasking is more efficient. In “Attention Deficit: The Brain Syndrome of Our Era” Richard Restak discusses the way the recent burst in technology has caused society’s brains to evolve and compensate for the addition of it. He describes the inefficiency of multitasking by saying “Whenever you attempt to do “two things at once,” your attention at any given moment is directed to one or the other activity rather than to both at once,” (419). You’re actually expending more energy trying to switch back and forth from one thing to another rather than focusing on one thing then moving on to the next thing. It is much easier to focus on pen and paper homework because unlike online assessments and exercises, there are no funny videos or advertisements popping up on the paper. Online it’s more than tempting to open another tab and end up online shopping for a new Michael Kors phone case while also “doing chemistry homework.” In reality, at any given moment you are only doing one thing or the other; never both. Multitasking is inefficient and results from online educational activities causing distraction and more energy spent than needed.

Liar, Liar

Academic Dishonesty is considered any type of cheating whether it be plagiarism, googling answers, or even working with other students. With professors posting quizzes online as an assessment of the students’ knowledge of the material its encouraging cheating. A group of students can sit together and work together toward an answer and all type in the same thing. The convenience of copying and pasting a question into the search bar to find the answer makes online quizzes an inaccurate measure of what the students know. In class quizzes and exams are traditional and they are effective because they actually give an idea of what the students have learned. Online quizzes only encourage dishonesty and make it easy to cheat the system.

Works Cited:

Nolan, Kelly. “Who Needs Textbook? — — McGraw-Hill Expands Multimedia College Offerings.” Wall Street Journal Oct 28 2009, Eastern edition ed.: B.5A. ProQuest. 20 Apr. 2015 .

Restak, Richard. Attention Deficit: The Brain Syndrome of Our Era. 2013.Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers. By Barclay Barrios. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 411–23. Print.

Picture Credits:

http://imgbuddy.com/netflix-logo-black.asp

https://elearn.une.edu/webapps/portal/execute/tabs/tabAction?tab_tab_group_id=_1_1

http://www.technapex.com/2013/01/mcgraw-hill-education-launches-suite-of-adaptive-learning-products/

http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2012/11/02/york_university_prof_enlists_student_snitches_to_battle_digital_distraction.html

http://idesign.tbr.edu/drupal/resources/academic-honesty

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