Cognitive Offloading, Media Multitasking, and Artificial Intelligence

Media Multitasking

Have you ever felt a sense of discomfort while trying to multitask on a computer? Have you ever lost your focus because something distracted you at a crucial moment? The world can be a distracting place that demands a lot of the brain's attention. The brain has a limited amount of attention that it can give to various tasks, and the more we try to do, the less we tend to achieve. This is especially true during the learning process, when the brain can be at its busiest while processing and encoding a lot of information. The cognitive demands on the brain can impact how well we learn, and are thus a major issue in education. A way to help the brain manage distractions is a concept known as cognitive offloading. Cognitive offloading is the use of physical action to reduce the information processing requirements of a task. Cognitive offloading can take such forms as movements of the body to effect a stimulus for memory and taking notes of ideas in order to delay thinking about them until a more appropriate time. While cognitive offloading can facilitate multitasking, such as when employing GPS while driving a car, it is important to remember that cognitive offloading does not actually make people better multi-taskers. However, because multitasking is becoming a regular state for many people, being able to cognitively offload is an increasing necessity. Artificial intelligence may play an important role in increasing human’s opportunities to offload more to computers, machines, and the world. Yet, how much can be offloaded and we remain humans as we know now? Further research will need to more deeply explore the boundaries between cognition, learning and what technology can make possible.

 

Further Reading:

Yang, X., Lin, L., Wen, Y., Cheng, P.-Y., Yang, X., & An, Y. (2020). Time-Compressed Audio on Attention, Meditation, Cognitive Load, and Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 23 (3), 16–26. Lin. L., Parsons, T. (2018). Ecologically valid assessments of attention and learning engagement in media multitaskers. TechTrends 62 (5): 518-524. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-018-0311-8

Uncapher, M., Lin, L., Rosen, L., Kirkorian, H., Baron, N., Bailey, K., Cantor, J., Strayer, D., Anderson, D., Parsons, T., & Wagner, A. (2017). Media multitasking is associated with cognitive, psychological, neural, and learning differences. Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. pp. s62-66. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-1758D

Lin, L., Mills, L., Ifenthaler, D. (2016). Collaboration, multi-tasking, and problem- solving performance in shared virtual spaces. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. DOI 10.1007/s12528-016-9117-x. Impact factor: 0.9 in 2014 & 2015. Lin, L. & Bigenho, C. (2015). Multitasking, note-taking, and learning in technology- immersive learning environments. In L. Rosen, M. Carrier, & N. Cheever (Eds.). The Handbook of Psychology, Technology and Society. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 420-435. Lin, L. & Lipsmeyer, W. (2015). The environmental and technological factors of multitasking. In A. Mesquita (Ed.). Human Behavior, Psychology and Social Interaction in the Digital Era. IGI. pp. 1-20. Lin, L., Cockerham, D., Chang, Z., & Natividad, G., (2015). Task speed and accuracy decrease when multitasking. Technology, Knowledge, and Learning. DOI 10.1007/s10758-015-9266-4.

Lin, L., Cranton, P., & Lee, J. (2015). Research methodologies for multitasking studies. In V. Wang (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Scholarly Publishing and Research Methods. IGI. pp. 329-348. Uncapher, M., Lin, L., Rosen, L., Kirkorian, H., Baron, N., Bailey, K., Cantor, J., Strayer, D., Anderson, D., Parsons, T., & Wagner, A. (in print). Media multitasking is associated with cognitive, psychological, neural, and learning differences. Pediatrics (Note: The official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics is the world’s leading pediatrics resource, the most cited journal in the field, and it is among the top 100 most-cited journals in all of science and medicine. My role was to review, develop and revise the draft, and approve the final manuscript). Impact factor: 5.473 in 2014 & 2015.

Lin, L., Li, J., Wircenski, M., & Wircenski, J. (2013). Multitasking and career skill requirements: Implications for career technical education. Workforce Education Forum. 36(1), 1-20. Lin, L., Bonner, D., & Nimon, K. (2013). Do Gender and ADHD Affect Media Multitasking Attitudes and Behaviors? In Leping Liu & D. Gibson (Eds.). Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2013. SITE. pp. 135-140. Lin, L. (2013). Multiple dimensions of multitasking phenomenon. International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction, 9(1), 37-49.

Lin, L., Nimon, K., & Bonner, D. (2012). Parents’ influence on adolescent children’ media- multitasking attitudes and behaviors. In Cleb Maddux & D. Gibson (Eds.). Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2012. SITE. pp. 127-132. Lin, L., Nimon, K., & Bonner, D. (2012). Parents’ influence on adolescent children’ media- multitasking attitudes and behaviors. In Cleb Maddux & D. Gibson (Eds.). Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education 2012. SITE. pp. 127-132. Lin, L., Nimon, K. & Bonner, D. (2012). Parents’ influence on adolescent children’ media- multitasking attitudes and behaviors. In P. Resta (Ed.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2925-2930). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Lin, L., & Bigenho, C. (2011). Note-taking and memory in different media environments. Computers in the Schools, 28(3), 200-216. Lin, L., Robertson, A., & Lee, J. (2012). The impact of outcome intentions on reading and multitasking performances. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 5(1), 77-94.

Lin, L., Lee, J., & Robertson, T. (2011). Reading while watching video: The effect of video content on reading comprehension and media multitasking ability. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 45(2), 183-201. Impact factor: 0.67 in 2014 & 2015.

Lee, J., Lin, L., & Robertson, T. (2011). The impact of media multitasking on learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(3). 1-11. Impact factor: 0.759 in 2014 & 2015.

Lee, J., Lin, L. & Robertson, T. (2009). Does media-multitasking interfere with learning? In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 974-978). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

Lin, L., Robertson, T., & Lee, J. (2009). Reading performances between novices and experts in different media multitasking environments. Computers in the Schools, 26(3), 169-186. Robertson, T., Lin, L., Lee, J. (2009). Parent in the driver’s seat: When goal intentions affect multitasking outcomes. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2096 - 2099). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

Lin, L. (2009). Breadth-biased versus focused cognitive control in media multitasking behaviors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Official Journal of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA 106: 15521-15522. Impact factor: 9.674 in 2014 & 2015.

Lin, L., Lee, J. & Robertson, T. (2008). So much to learn, so little time: The study of time-critical multitasking behaviors in a multimedia environment. In K. McFerrin et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1897-1901). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

Lin, L. (2008). Can multitasking be learned in a multimedia classroom environment? In K. McFerrin et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2707-2710). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.