Skip to content

Social norms, expectations, attention, a game?

The ASTD Big Question for October is: What are the New Methods & Skills for Learners and Presenters in a multitasking world? Given that during a presentation, people are on their laptops, blackberries, iPhones – participating in social media, checking email or just doing something else – other than paying attention – what can we do as learners and presenters?

Initial thoughts:

  • Wireless communications have untethered our social norms
    • Sherry Turkle observed how we have become tethered to our virtual identities via cellphones and other devices.
    • What used to be considered rude – answering the phone while talking face-to-face with someone – is now the norm (in most of North America)
    • I don’t know what the social norms are in other countries/cultures.
    • Establish a new norm in your learning environment – via ground rules or other means. Discuss and create the norm up front.
      • Discuss how the backchannel can be used. What appropriate to say and not.
      • Give a list of web sites related to your topic for those who will want to surf the web (if laptops are allowed.) Have people surf in areas related to your topic.
  • Presenters need to change their expectations.
    • Don’t expect full attention – design with this in mind.
      • Tell the learners what to pay attention to – keywords
    • Expect the back-channel conversation – bring it to to the foreground occasionally during the presentation or have someone moderating it and bring it up. Give the audience the #hashtag so you can let them know that you  know and so that you can follow. Give them the venue for the backchannel.
    • Stop presenting – let the audience engage with each other, either face-to-face table talk or just via the backchannel.
    • Or if you want to be authoritative and have the power – ban latops and blackberries from the room. I’ve seen this done in corporate settings. But you know, people might resort to passing notes.
  • Partial-attention learners
    • Initial research into attention and performance showed that even when people are performing other tasks, they would still hear a message when primed to listen for a target word. (Treisman, 1964 Attenuation Theory). Does this mean we should be keying our learners for target words?
    • Perhaps as learners we should learn how to better target our attention and learn when to switch
    • Perhaps presenters should provide break points, pauses that allow for the swtiching.
  • Treat the presentation like a game
    • What if we were to treat the presentation like a game?
    • The presenter sets the rules – back-channel rules, front-channel rules
    • The presenter sets the goals – prize to indivdual or table group that can complete a task within a certain amount of time or that answers the quiz at the end.
    • Points for the best answer…
    • Have to think about this one more.

Just some initial thoughts on changing/setting expectations and skills we can learn and sharpen. The game has changed in intensity, lets change with it.

Addtional note (added later 10/14/09): there are two types of attention under current research: top-down attention (attending to a task such as looking for keys or listening to a presentation) & bottom-up attention (automatic attention to something salient or attention-grabbing, such as a fire-alarm or key words) . See full blog post from Scientific American: link.

Posted in ASTD big question.

Tagged with , , , , , .

6 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. TypeKally says

    Other variant is possible also

  2. Rani H. Gill says

    Hi TypeKally – not exactly sure what you mean by other variant? ..rani

  3. denDED says

    чтобы добавлять свои статьи, обязательно ли регистрироватся?

  4. Rani H. Gill says

    Hello –
    I am not sure what you are asking. Are you asking how to add comments? Or if this site requires registration. I must approve comments before they appear. Does this help?

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Presentation Backchannel Multitasking | Inventions Blog linked to this post on October 30, 2009

    […] Gill: Social norms, expectations, attention, a game?  also has some great […]

  2. Presentation Backchannel Multitasking linked to this post on October 30, 2009

    […] Gill: Social norms, expectations, attention, a game?  also has some great […]

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.