“Attention span is the amount of time that a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted.”
I have noticed that my attention span has dramatically decreased in the past few years and often while I am watching a video clip or listening to an audio book I suddenly find myself reading or writing an email or browsing the web, sometimes triggered by what I was watching or hearing.
For me the main reason for this is that there is an overflow of information, the majority of which is either not very engaging nor very interesting for more than a few minutes, and secondly we are getting used to multi-tasking all the time instead of focusing on just one thing at a time.
With all the real-time news and input we now receive throughout the day through various devices and sources, I think we are slowly becoming immune to much of the content unless it is really different and has something to keep us focused for more than a few minutes.
Daily life and mainstream news and content are one thing, education is another. How are we going to keep children, teenagers and young adults focused on learning by educating them using traditional books and methods when they have grown up with interactive and engaging content in games, for example?
Educational material needs to be engaging, social and fun!
In 2012 Apple launched a new version of iBooks, which introduced “Textbooks” aimed at the educational space and to encourage the development of rich and engaging applications for learning.
One of the main differences using the current tablet computers instead of traditional PCs is that you have to focus on one application at a time (unless you have notifications switched on, that is), which for me has improved my attention span significantly as long as the content is engaging and interesting.
So if educational material such as a textbook is turned into an engaging social experience where learning is fun and perhaps even competitive or social and hence something everyone would like to do anytime throughout the day, like the functionality of “Words with Friends” and “DrawSomething” for example, I am confident we will be able to significantly enhance the educational system and not least the skills of people around the world.