Attentional Literacy as a New Literacy: Helping Students Deal with Digital Disarray
Keywords:Attentional literacy, mindfulness, digital literacies, digital disarray
When students learn online, they do so within a wider context of digital disarray, marked by distraction, disorder and disconnection, which research shows to be far from conducive to effective learning. Specific educational issues include a lack of focus, linked to information overload in an environment characterized by misinformation and disinformation, as well as a lack of connection to the self and others. Arguing that today’s growing focus on digital literacies in education already serves as a partial response to digital disarray, this evidence-based position paper proposes the concept of attentional literacy as a macroliteracy which interweaves elements of now established literacies with the emerging educational discourse of mindfulness. Through attentional literacy, students may gain awareness of how to focus their attention intentionally on the self, the relationship with others, and the informational environment, resulting in a more considered approach to learning coupled with an appreciation of multiple shifting perspectives. Armed with this developing skillset, students stand to benefit more fully from digital educational experiences. Considerations for continuing research in this area include the need to adopt a critical stance on mindfulness, and the need to operationalize attentional literacy for the classroom.
Barbezat, D. P., & Bush, M. (2014). Contemplative practices in higher education: Powerful methods to transform teaching and learning. Jossey-Bass.
Beck, J. (2017, Mar. 13). This article won’t change your mind. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/this-article-wont-change-your-mind/519093/
Berg, M., & Seeber, B. K. (2016). The slow professor: Challenging the culture of speed in the academy. University of Toronto Press.
Berila, B. (2016). Integrating mindfulness into anti-oppression pedagogy: Social justice in higher education. Routledge.
Berthon, P. R., & Pitt, L. F. (2019). Types of mindfulness in an age of digital distraction. Business Horizons, 62, 131-137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2018.10.003
Bonnardel, V., Biddington, T., May, B., Jones, R., & Roffey, S. (2018). Toward the implementation of contemplative practices in higher education. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6(3), 3-13.
Boulous Walker, M. (2017). Slow philosophy: Reading against the institution. Bloomsbury Academic.
Brown, M. (2017, Oct. 5). A critical review of frameworks for digital literacy: Beyond the flashy, flimsy and faddish – Part 1. ASCILITE TELall blog. http://blog.ascilite.org/a-critical-review-of-frameworks-for-digital-literacy-beyond-the-flashy-flimsy-and-faddish-part-1/
Burrows, L. (2018). Safeguarding mindfulness in schools and higher education: A holistic and inclusive approach. Routledge.
Bush, M. (2011). Mindfulness in higher education. Contemporary Buddhism, 12(1), 183-197. https://doi.org/10.1080/14639947.2011.564838
Caballero, C., Scherer, E., West, M. R., Mrazek, M. D., Gabrieli, C. F. O., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2019). Greater mindfulness is associated with better academic achievement in middle school. Mind, Brain, and Education, 13(3), 157-166.
Couros, A. (2019). #77 – Attention literacy with Alec Couros. [Interview by W. Richardson.] Modern Learners. https://modernlearners.com/77-alec-couros/
Creese, A., & Blackledge, A. (Eds.). (2018) The Routledge handbook of language and superdiversity: An interdisciplinary perspective. Routledge.
Darghan Felisoni, D., & Strommer Godoi, A. (2018). Cell phone usage and academic performance: An experiment. Computers & Education, 117, 175-187. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.10.006
Dobelli, R. (2020). Stop reading the news: A manifesto for a happier, calmer and wiser life. [Trans. C. Waight.] London: Sceptre.
Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (2013). Digital literacies. Pearson.
Durlak, J. A., Domitrovich, C. E., Weissberg, R. P., & Gullotta, T. P. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of social and emotional learning: Research and practice. Guilford Press.
Edwards, L. (2016). Combining biofeedback and mindfulness in education. Biofeedback, 44(3), 126-129. https://doi.org/10.5298/1081-5937-44.3.01
ELI [EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative]. (2019). 7 things you should know about … digital literacies. https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2019/7/eli7169.pdf
Ergas, O. (2014). Mindfulness in education at the intersection of science, religion, and healing. Critical Studies in Education, 55(1), 58-72. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2014.858643
Ergas, O. (2017). Reclaiming ‘self’ in teachers’ images of ‘education’ through mindfulness as contemplative inquiry. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 14(3), 218-235. https://doi.org/10.1080/15505170.2017.1398698
Ergas, O. (2019a). A contemplative turn in education: Charting a curricular-pedagogical countermovement. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 27(2), 251-270. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681366.2018.1465111
Ergas, O. (2019b). Mindfulness in, as and of education: Three roles of mindfulness in education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 53(2), 340-358.
Ergas, O., & Todd, S. (2016). Introduction. In O. Ergas & S. Todd (Eds.), Philosophy east/west: Exploring intersections between educational and contemplative practices. Wiley Blackwell.
Fairclough, N. (2015). Language and power (3rd ed.). Routledge.
Forbes, D. (2019). Mindfulness and its discontents: Education, self, and social transformation. Fernwood Publishing.
Forte, M., Jacobson, T., Mackey, T., O’Keeffe, E., & Stone, K. [with additional contributors]. (2020). 2018 metaliteracy goals and learning objectives. [Last updated Feb. 27, 2020.] Metaliteracy. https://metaliteracy.org/learning-objectives/2018-metaliteracy-goals-and-learning-objectives/
Frith, U. (2020). Fast lane to slow science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 24(1), 1-2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2019.10.007
Gee, J. P. (2017). Teaching, learning, literacy in our high-risk high-tech world: A framework for becoming human. Teachers College Press.
Gethin, R. (2013). On some definitions of mindfulness. In J. M. G. Williams & J. Kabat-Zinn (Eds.), Mindfulness: Diverse perspectives on its meaning, origins and applications (pp. 263-279). Routledge.
Goleman, D., & Davidson, R. J. (2017). The science of meditation: How to change your brain, mind and body. Penguin.
Hadar, L. L., Ergas, O., Alpert, B., & Ariav, T. (2020). Rethinking teacher education in a VUCA world: Student teachers’ social-emotional competencies during the Covid-19 crisis. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 573-586. https://doi.org/10.1080/02619768.2020.1807513
Hanson, R., & Mendius, R. (2009). Buddha’s brain. New Harbinger.
Harari, Y. (2020, Apr. 1). Homo Deus author Yuval Harari shares pandemic lessons from past and warnings for future. [Interview by L. Lew.] South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/3077960/homo-deus-author-yuval-harari-shares-pandemic-lessons-past-and-warnings
Harford, T. (2017, Mar. 11). The problem with facts. Financial Times: FT Weekend Supplement – Life & Arts, p. 18.
Hauck, M., & Kurek, M. (2017). Digital literacies in teacher preparation. In S. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Language, education and technology (3rd ed.). Springer.
Helm, F., & Guth, S. (2016). Telecollaboration and language learning. In F. Farr & L. Murray (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of language learning and technology. Routledge.
Helm, F., Guth, S., Shuminov, E., & Van der Helden, B. (2020). Erasmus+ virtual exchange. Internationalisation of Higher Education, 1, 91-109.
Helmer, K. (2014). Disruptive practices: Enacting critical pedagogy through meditation, community building, and explorative spaces in a graduate course for pre-service teachers. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 49(2), 33-40.
Hockly, N. (2016). Focus on learning technologies. Oxford University Press.
Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020, Mar. 27). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. EDUCAUSE Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning
Hodgson, N., Vlieghe, J., & Zamojski, P. (2017). Manifesto for a post-critical pedagogy. In N. Hodgson, J. Vlieghe & P. Zamojski (Eds.), Manifesto for a post-critical pedagogy (pp. 15-19). Punctum Books.
Hyland, T. (2016). On the contemporary applications of mindfulness: Some implications for education. In O. Ergas & S. Todd (Eds.), Philosophy east/west: Exploring intersections between educational and contemplative practices. Wiley Blackwell.
Jennings, P. A., DeMauro, A. A., & Mischenko, P. (2020). Cultivating awareness and resilience in education: The CARE for teachers program. In I. Ivtzan (Ed.), Handbook of mindfulness-based programmes: Mindfulness interventions from education to health and therapy (pp. 219-230). Routledge.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation (revised ed.). Piatkus.
Khng, K. H. (2018). Mindfulness in education: The case of Singapore. Learning: Research and Practice, 4(1), 52-65. https://doi.org/10.1080/23735082.2018.1428120
Langer, E. J. (1993). A mindful education. Educational Psychologist, 28(1), 43-50.
Langer, E. J. (2000). Mindful learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(6), 220-223.
Langer, E. J. (2016). The power of mindful learning (2nd ed.). Da Capo Press.
Langer, E. J., & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). The construct of mindfulness. Journal of Social Issues, 56(1), 1-9.
Lauricella, S. (2014). Mindfulness meditation with undergraduates in face-to-face and digital practice: A formative analysis. Mindfulness, 5, 682-688. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-013-0222-x
Law, N., Woo, D., de la Torre, J., & Wong, G. (2018, Jun.). A global framework of reference on digital literacy skills for indicator 4.4.2. Information Paper no. 51, UIS/2018/ICT/IP/51. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/ip51-global-framework-reference-digital-literacy-skills-2018-en.pdf
Levy, D. M. (2016). Mindful tech: How to bring balance to our digital lives. Yale University Press.
Lillard, A. S., & Erisir, A. (2011). Old dogs learning new tricks: Neuroplasticity beyond the juvenile period. Developmental review, 31(4), 207-239.
List of incidents of xenophobia and racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (2020, Oct. 20). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_xenophobia_and_racism_related_to_the_COVID-19_pandemic
Melo, C., Madariaga, L., Nussbaum, M., Heller, R., Bennett, S., Tsai, C.-C., & van Braak, J. (2020). Editorial: Educational technology and addictions. Computers & Education, 145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103730
Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2017). The enigma of reason: A new theory of human understanding. Allen Lane.
Miedema, J. (2009). Slow reading. Litwin Books.
Moldoveanu, M. (2016). The construct of mindfulness amidst and along conceptions of rationality. In S. M. Fatemi (Ed.), Critical mindfulness (pp. 25-43). Springer.
Mortlock, J. T. (2020). Audio-guided Mindful-Based Social Emotional Learning (MBSEL) training in school classrooms: The inner explorer program. In I. Ivtzan (Ed.), Handbook of mindfulness-based programmes: Mindfulness interventions from education to health and therapy (pp. 251-263). Routledge.
Nascimbeni, F., & Vosloo, S. (2019, Aug.). Digital literacy for children: Exploring definitions and frameworks. Scoping Paper No. 01. UNICEF.
O’Dowd, R., & Ritter, M. (2006). Understanding and working with ‘failed communication’ in telecollaborative exchanges. CALICO Journal, 23(3), 623-642. https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/CALICO/article/view/23162/19167
Ovadya, A., & Bienstock, H. (2018, Nov. 8). Is your company ready to protect its reputation from deep fakes? Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2018/11/is-your-company-ready-to-protect-its-reputation-from-deep-fakes
Owen-Smith, P. (2018). The contemplative mind in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Indiana University Press.
Page, K. (2019). College mindfulness training: Reducing student life stress and improving academic performance. Routledge.
Page, S. E. (2017). The diversity bonus: How great teams pay off in the knowledge economy. Princeton University Press.
Palalas, A. (2018). Mindfulness in mobile and ubiquitous learning: Harnessing the power of attention. In S. Yu, M. Ally & A. Tsinakos (Eds.), Mobile and ubiquitous learning: An international handbook (pp. 19-44). Singapore: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-6144-8_2
Palalas, A. (2019a). How can we connect mobility with mindfulness? In M. Pegrum, Mobile lenses on learning: Languages and literacies on the move (pp. 118-119). Springer.
Palalas, A. (2019b). Mindfulness for human-centred digital learning. Argentinian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 110-125.
Pegrum, M. (2014). Mobile learning: Languages, literacies and cultures. Palgrave Macmillan.
Pegrum, M. (2019a). Digital literacies in language education. [Interview by J. da Silva Cardoso.] Matraga, 26(47), 462-469. https://doi.org/10.12957/matraga.2019.44077
Pegrum, M. (2019b). Mobile lenses on learning: Languages and literacies on the move. Springer.
Pegrum, M., Dudeney, G., & Hockly, N. (2018). Digital literacies revisited. The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL, 7(2), 3-24.
Purser, R., & Loy, D. (2013, Aug. 31). Beyond McMindfulness. Huffpost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/beyond-mcmindfulness_b_3519289
Rainie, L., & Anderson, J. (2017). Code-dependent: Pros and cons of the algorithm age. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/02/08/code-dependent-pros-and-cons-of-the-algorithm-age/
Reavley, N. J. (2018). Mindfulness training in higher education students. The Lancet: Public Health, 3, e55-e56. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30241-4
Rheingold, H. (2009, Apr. 20). Attention literacy. SFGate. http://www.sfgate,com/cgi-bin/blogs/rheingold/detail?entry_id= 38828
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. MIT Press.
Ridsdale, C., Rothwell, J., Smit, M., Ali-Hassan, H., Bliemel, M., Irvine, D., Kelley, D., Matwin, S., & Wuetherick, B. (n. d.). Strategies and best practices for data literacy education. Knowledge synthesis report. Dalhousie University. http://www.mikesmit.com/wp-content/papercite-data/pdf/data_literacy.pdf
Schoeberlein David, D., & Sheth, S. (2009). Mindful teaching and teaching mindfulness: A guide for anyone who teaches anything. Wisdom Publications.
Schwartz, J. M., Stapp, H. P., & Beauregard, M. (2005). Quantum physics in neuroscience and psychology: A neurophysical model of mind-brain interaction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 360(1458), 1309-1327.
Scida, E. E., & Jones, J. N. (2017). Navigating stress: Graduate student experiences with contemplative practices in a foreign language teacher education course. The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, 4(1), 207-228.
Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Astin, J. (2011). Toward the integration of meditation into higher education: A review of research evidence. Teachers College Record, 113(3), 493-528.
Sherretz, C. E. (2011). Mindfulness in education: Case studies of mindful teachers and their teaching practices. Journal of Thought, fall-winter, 79-96.
Shi-xu. (2005). A cultural approach to discourse. Palgrave Macmillan.
Sloman, S., & Fernbach, P. (2017). The knowledge illusion: Why we never think alone. Macmillan.
Spring, M. (2020, May 27). Coronavirus: The human cost of virus misinformation. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-52731624
Stone, L. (2009, Nov. 30). Beyond simple multi-tasking: Continuous partial attention. Linda Stone. https://lindastone.net/2009/11/30/beyond-simple-multi-tasking-continuous-partial-attention/
Stosny, S. (2017, Feb. 6). He once called it ‘election stress disorder.’ Now the therapist says we’re suffering from this. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/02/06/suffering-from-headline-stress-disorder-since-trumps-win-youre-definitely-not-alone/
Tobin, K. (2018). The role of mindfulness in harmonising sustainable lifestyles. Learning: Research and Practice, 4(1), 112-125. https://doi.org/10.1080/23735082.2018.1435039
Van Dam, N. T., van Vugt, M. K., Vago, D. R., Schmalzl, L., Saron, C. D., Olendzki, A., Meissner, T., Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Gorchov, J., Fox, K. C. R., Field, B. A., Britton, W. B., Brefczynski-Lewis, J. A., & Meyer, D. E. (2018). Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(1), 36-61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617709589
Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6), 1024-1054. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870701599465
Wallace, B. A. (2006). The attention revolution: Unlocking the power of the focused mind. Wisdom Publications.
Ward, A. F., Duke, K., Gneezy, A., & Bos, M. W. (2017). Brain drain: The mere presence of one’s own smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 2(2), 140-154. https://doi.org/10.1086/691462
Wardle, C., & Derakhshan, H. (2017, Sep. 27). Information disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. https://edoc.coe.int/en/media-freedom/7495-information-disorder-toward-an-interdisciplinary-framework-for-research-and-policy-making.html
Ware, P. (2017). Technology, new literacies, and language learners. In C. A. Chapelle & S. Sauro (Eds.), The handbook of technology and second language teaching and learning (pp. 265-277). Wiley Blackwell.
Wenger, C. I. (2019). Teaching attention literacy: A case for mindfulness in the composition classroom. Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 19(1), 53-78. https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-7173752
Whelan, E., Najmul Islam, A. K. M., & Brooks, S. (2020). Applying the SOBC paradigm to explain how social media overload affects academic performance. Computers & Education, 143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103692
WHO [World Health Organization]. (2020, Sep. 23). Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy behaviours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation. Joint statement by WHO, UN, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNAIDS, ITU, UN Global Pulse, and IFRC. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/23-09-2020-managing-the-covid-19-infodemic-promoting-healthy-behaviours-and-mitigating-the-harm-from-misinformation-and-disinformation
Wong, J. C. (2020, Apr. 28). ‘There is no absolute truth’: An infectious disease expert on Covid-19, misinformation and ‘bullshit’. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/there-is-no-absolute-truth-an-infectious-disease-expert-on-covid-19-misinformation-and-bullshit
Zajonc, A. (2006). Love and knowledge: Recovering the heart of learning through contemplation. Teachers College Record, 108(9), 1742-1759.
Copyright (c) 2021 Mark Pegrum, Agnieszka Palalas
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under an International Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (CC-BY-NC 4.0) that allows others to share the work for non-commercial purposes, with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.