News Release

TECH DAY: Students multitask in new and intense ways

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pratik Singh, senior business computer information systems major from Nepal

Pratik Singh talks to faculty and staff at TECH DAY '09. Singh is a senior business computer information systems major from Nepal.

Pratik Singh, senior business computer information systems major from Nepal Will Imholte, first-year student from Hermantown, Minnesota Karen Lindgren, a Career Services staffer, participates in TECH DAY '09 Chuck Dziuban, distributed education expert Dan Wildeson, director, Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning 

Some St. Cloud State students are living an intensely multi-tasked existence called "continuous partial attention."

Student panelists at a Jan. 8 TECH DAY session described how they use Internet and phone applications to tether themselves to steady streams of information.

Called "A Day in the Life of a Net Generation Student," the Atwood Memorial Center session featured students Will Imholte, Darin Ronne and Pratik Singh.

TECH DAY, a faculty- and staff-driven examination of technology use at St. Cloud State, included two presentations by Chuck Dziuban, director of the Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

In his remarks, Dziuban credited Linda Stone with coining the continuous partial attention concept. Stone is a consultant and former executive at Apple and Microsoft. Her take on 21st century multitasking:

"To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention -- continuously. It is motivated by a desire to be a live node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter."

Music is what matters to Imholte, a junior from Hermantown, Minn. He pulled from his pockets the mobile phone and two iPods he uses to listen to music, from the time he gets up until the time he goes to sleep. He described how he buys eyeglasses from Zenni Optical and computer gear from Tiger Direct -- online purchases at significant discounts, Imholte said.

Ronne, a senior from Grand Meadow, Minn., demonstrated his Apple iPhone, a "smart" mobile phone.

"The iPhone is essentially an extension of the computer," said Ronne. "A lot of the stuff I do on a PC I can also do on my phone."

As the audience followed along on a document camera/projection screen system, Ronne viewed maps, visited a music site, browsed an encyclopedia and read Associated Press news headlines. Access to headlines is important, Ronne said, because he does not read newspapers or watch television news.

Ronne showed how he can use his iPhone to do social networking on his Facebook profile, including updating his status ("I'm presenting at TECH DAY") and chatting with friends via instant messaging.

Net Generation students can afford a $300 iPhone and monthly service charges of about $90 because they do not incur telephone and cable television fees, Ronne said. They use mobile phones exclusively and watch television episodes across a free Internet connection in a campus computer lab.

Singh discussed SkyDrive, his 25 gigbytes of free, online, personal-file space on Microsoft's Windows Live Web site. The senior can access his files at work, at home, on campus or back in his homeland of Nepal. All he needs is an Internet-connected computer.

Singh also uses the Internet to order take-out food from the Chipolte Mexican restaurant in west St. Cloud.

TECH DAY was hosted by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, in partnership with President Earl H. Potter III, Provost Michael Spitzer, the Center for Continuing Studies, the Center for Information Systems and Learning Resources & Technology Services.

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