Is Multitasking truly possible?

I had a colleague challenge me that multitasking was truly impossible. The ‘appearance’ of multitasking my exist, but the ability for the human brain to actually follow the definition of multitasking may not exist.

I include a link for your commenting pleasure:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_multitasking

Have a nice day,

Al

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About allandlowrie

School Principal, married 29 years, have four children, 2 married and one more getting married in October.
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8 Responses to Is Multitasking truly possible?

  1. lbechard says:

    Allan, I’m not sure which side of the argument I’m on these days, as I find myself doing school work, watching a TV show and making dinner all at the same time (right now). Perhaps I’m not doing any of it as effectively as I could if I only concentrated on one at a time (hope I don’t burn dinner because I’m writing this reply!) I think some of the arguments in from this site are relevant where the cognitive load required to multitask is staggering. I know that some tasks/projects I’ve been working on for months are still not finished because multitasking helps me lose focus rather than concentrating on a project and getting it done (and because no one is putting pressure on me to get them done.)

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4181/is_20051129/ai_n15871071/

  2. A previous class that I took around technology explored several issues around its uses. Your question reminded me of a PBS documentary about this very subject. Here is the link to the article about multitasking as well as information about the documentary: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/01/scitech/pcanswer/main6161888.shtml
    If anyone can help me here, how do I add a link to a comment? Thanks.

    I am unable to multitask. I grew up with one channel (CTV) and no video games. I can’t follow the chat box and listen to Alec at the same time. I have tried to listen to the videos while reading blogs on google reader. I end up with a headache and very little understanding.

    Although I think my students would deny it, I think that they are the same way. If I put too many jobs into one class, the students generally end up not being able to focus on even one task. Three tasks is my limit for students; I find that they end up being the most productive this way.

  3. reenielarson says:

    Hi Al,

    Great question. i’m inclined to say that it depends on the complexity of the tasks. I believe I can do a good job of vacuuming while listening to a podcast and I couldn’t bare to just do laundry.

    Or, is it because these tasks are mundane and that there is no chance of deviation from the set pattern.

  4. The big challenge is from Linda Stone – see Continuous Partial Attention http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_Partial_Attention

  5. Sarah says:

    I think teachers are amazing multi-taskers, you take attendance, sing O’Canada, discipline students with your eyes etc. Everyday I find myself doing multiple things at once. I do agree that if I was attempting to complete one task at a time, I might be more focussed and productive but often, I don’t have the choice.

  6. Pingback: Where’s the Beef? « Mutterings and Musings of a Mere Mortal Muggle

  7. I was going to say that I think everyone multi-tasks most of the time perhaps often without even realizing it. But after reading the wiki definition for Continuous Partial Attention that is more likely what most of us do.

    And I have to tell you that after 50 if you are multi-tasking you run into the problem of not really know what the heck you are doing or where you are going half the time.

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