Méditer pour mieux fonctionner dans l’univers numérique

Suite à un article d’Affaires universitaires, nous vous avions parlé en août 2012 d’un mouvement pour l’éducation contemplative qui cherche à sensibiliser les étudiants à des notions de pleine conscience proches de la méditation, afin d’améliorer leurs apprentissages, de lutter contre la dispersion intellectuelle associée au multitasking et de développer chez eux des vertus humanistes.

David M. Levy, un professeur de sciences de l’information à la University of Washington, enseigne un cours qui s’intitule Information and Contemplation: « a unique class designed to raise students’ awareness about how they use their digital tools. […] Participants scrutinize their use of technology: how much time they spend with it, how it affects their emotions, how it fragments their attention. They watch videos of themselves multitasking and write guidelines for improving their habits. They also practice meditation—during class—to sharpen their attention. »

L’article du Chronicle of Higher Education qui rapporte ce cours décrit le type d’activités pédagogiques que Levy présente à ses étudiants:

« ..It began with an assignment that required students to spend 15 minutes to half an hour each day observing and logging their e-mail behavior. The idea, an outgrowth of meditation, is to note what happens in the mind and body.

Can they notice the initial impulse to check e-mail? What are they thinking and feeling at that point? What emotional reactions do they have the moment they set eyes on the inbox? How does their posture and breathing change as they e-mail?

After observing their own behavior for a week, students write a two- to three-page reflection on what they saw.

In the process, they tend to discover what works for them. They learn how strong their attention is at different times. They see how e-mail provokes pleasure, anxiety, even hatred. »

L’article inclut aussi des références au concept de l’attention partagée, alors que les nombreuses distractions que peuvent apporter une mauvaise utilisation des technologies numériques nuiraient à l’apprentissage:

« All of that carries implications for teaching. The cost of classroom multitasking, he says, can be a failure to learn.

Say a professor presents new concepts. To understand the ideas, students need to link them to things they already know, creating a network of associations that Mr. Mayr describes as « a rich knowledge structure. » That happens only if they pay attention and think about the lesson.

If a student listens to the professor with one ear while surfing Facebook, Mr. Mayr says, « I’m 100 percent certain that that critical process of creating new knowledge structures is not happening in the student’s head. »

What’s tricky is that someone who does surf the Web while listening to a lecture will very likely have the impression of doing just fine, Mr. Mayr says. That’s because our minds lay a trap. All content in long-term memory is represented in two ways: « as a sense of familiarity on the one hand, and whether or not you truly understand it. »

People often mistake familiarity for understanding. They open the textbook after getting home from a lecture, and they recognize the material. They think: I get this. Then they take a test—and bomb it. »

Pour David Levy, on peut s’éduquer à focaliser notre attention pour gérer l’infobésité ambiante.  Il se place effectivement au-dessus du débat entre technophiles et technophobes.  L’ensemble du cours Information and Contemplation vise donc à éduquer les étudiants à mieux utiliser les outils numériques.

Le professeur Levy prépare un livre qui s’intitulera Mindful Tech.


Parry, Marc, « You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help », The Chronicle of Higher Education, 24 mars 2013

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