Attending to multiple streams of information and entertainment while studying, doing homework, or even sitting in class has become common behavior among young people—so common that many of them rarely write a paper or complete a problem set any other way.
Online training technology company Mindflash on Tuesday announced a new feature called FocusAssist for iPad that uses the tablet’s camera to track a user’s eye movements. When it senses that you’ve been looking away for more than a few seconds (because you were sending e-mails, or just fell asleep), it pauses the course, forcing you to pay attention—or at least look like you are—in order to complete it.
Sound kind of creepy, even Big Brother-y? Mindflash doesn’t think so. Donna Wells, the company’s chief executive officer, writes in an e-mail: “Our focus is making sure trainees get all the information they need to do their jobs well, not penalizing learners.” Trainers do not receive any reporting on individual users’ attention spans, but they are supplied with information on which content isn’t engaging trainees.
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