A playDUcative use of distraction

engaging: #TEDxHH
exploring: tweeting during a conference
learning:  distraction can help you focus

01. June 2011 by Bea Beste

When I was a little girl in primary school, I had the habit to draw during the lessons, scribble things in my notebooks or on my desk. My teacher didn‘t like that, and she used to hit me with a ruler directly on my fingers, which was, in the 70s in Romania, a total normal reaction of a teacher to what they thought to be bad behavior. However, she didn’t make me change this habit. I kept drawing in lessons despite further constant trouble with teachers convinced that this was distracting me from learning. But at a certain point they gave up, because I was good in school, and tested good. Even now, as a grown-up, I need to do something with my hands while listening – it helps me to focus, although it intrigues sometime the people with whom I‘m together... They think I'm too distracted to listen.

Béa Beste playDUcation Scribbles

When I started my playDUcative journey in February, I had basically no clue about Twitter and how it works but wanted to find out. I got some practice and insight, I was able to connect various interesting people, to get information and ideas like from no other media - but it really made click for me just last Tuesday during TEDxHamburg. It’s as simple as that: If in an audience of almost 500 people just two handful are busy tweeting and using the hashtag, and you’re one of them, you try to get the essence of what is said, including the bon-mots, as quickly as possible. You have to limit your message to 140 characters. You follow the stream and you’re part of it.

I found myself in the situation of competing with a couple of others for the best expressions. Sometimes they were quicker and had the better words and the quicker tweet for what was said. Then, I gave in and retweeted it. A few times, I managed to get an idea quicker and better, so others retweeted me, which made me proud. Finally, what I knew to be considered a distraction and a nuisance was welcomed: Interacting with your pad on your lap or typing into your smartphone was encouraged. On three huge LED-Walls, for each tweet to #TEDxHH a light ball faded in – a nice optical play. Now, after a couple of days after the conference, I realize that I have the most vivid memory of what was said and presented – by far more that I ever had after a conference. I think that tweeting helped me better focus and remember than anything else.

TEDxHH playducation

There are around the world several innovative educationalists who use Twitter to enhance their lessons and the learning experience of their students, like Monika Rankin, who has published her „Twitter Experiment“ already in 2009. There is a playDUcative principle behind that: Don‘t go against the distracting offers that the world has, just go with them, accept them and incorporate them into learning. Your brain runs on fun!

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