April 27, 2016

Video Lessons Aim to Capture Children’s Shrinking Attention Spans

By Erin Flynn Jay, Contributing Writer | Literacy Resources

Teachers don’t have much time to hold a child’s attention span, which seems to get shorter every year. Today’s students start losing interest after about five minutes, says Marc Carver, founder of a new company that creates animated instructional videos for elementary-age students.

“Sustained attention span is what produces the most consistent learning results over time,” Carver said. “And a recent study by psychologists has determined that over the last 10 years, our average sustained attention span has fallen from 12 minutes to just five minutes.” That means when teaching our children something new, we have about five minutes of focused, sustained attention to make it stick.

Carver’s company, called FutureSoBrite, was launched in January 2016. Its first product is called “FUN Grammar 4Kids” — a series of video lessons that help give younger students a foundation in nouns, verbs, sentence structure and overall writing skills. Each of the videos averages around five minutes long.

An option for lectures and one-to-one teaching

"Nouns" is one of the videos in the "FUN Grammar 4 Kids" series.“FUN Grammar 4Kids” gives teachers an engagement tool/primer for either grammar lectures for the whole class or for one-to-one instruction. The videos, which supplement curricula, also can be a boon to parents seeking home-schooling lessons and materials.

Carver says the program is designed to capture attention and deliver information simply and effectively. The videos contain colorful graphics, voice narration and comical characters that engage students and inspire multiple viewings. It really can make the entire learning process a fun experience that children look forward to.

It also enables teachers to maximize the effectiveness of in-class assignments. Teachers can customize lessons/assignments for each student, focusing on the areas that may require more attention on a student-by-student basis.

For example, Carver said, one student may be having difficulty with punctuation skills, while another is not quite grasping sentence structure. Each of these students can access their relevant lesson on their own, working at their own pace (with the guidance of their teacher as necessary), thereby most effectively using classroom time to work on any areas where kids need help.

Tapping the value of blended learning

“This type of blended learning program, utilizing a multichannel information delivery method (visual media combined with live teaching), captures the students’ attention, piques their interest and reinforces the teacher’s words. The end result is maximum knowledge retention,” said Carver.

“FUN Grammar 4Kids” is so new that there’s no statistical data on its effectiveness yet. But it has received strong reviews and comments from educators and parents. There is some data on the effectiveness of blended learning, however.

“A study by schools that have utilized at least some elements of a blended learning curriculum (digital, online learning programs combined with traditional face-to-face teaching) in language arts, math and science have reported increases of up to 27 percent in student proficiency over a non-blended curriculum,” said Carver.

More learning videos on the way

“FUN Grammar 4Kids” is the first program release in the “FUN Learning 4Kids” educational series. Programs focusing on math, science and social studies are in development.

“Any school, whether public, private, or home-based can benefit from the kind of engaging learning programs being developed at FutureSoBrite. So really there are no limits,” said Carver.

It’s not easy to improve attention span, but the most important thing we can do is to remove — or at least limit — the distractions that we’ve all come to take for granted in our everyday lives (noise, interruptions, devices, etc.).

“Learning requires attention, attention requires focus and focus requires concentration. And all of these require a freedom from distractions,” said Carver. “At FutureSoBrite, we believe that every child deserves a bright future, and that education makes all things possible.”

Erin Flynn Jay is a writer, editor and publicist, working mainly with authors and small businesses since 2001. Erin’s interests also reach into the educational space, where her affinity for innovation spurs articles about early childhood education and learning strategies. She is based in Philadelphia.

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