In this episode of The Learning Network's Community & Family Studies Podcast, I am joined by Dr Kristy Goodwin for a conversation about digital Wellbeing!

Listen along as Kristy explains why she doesn't promote digital detox or "digital amputation" and how can we use technology in healthy and helpful ways. 

Technology can cause so much harm but, in today's society it has tentacles in every part of our lives, meaning we cannot be effective teachers, nor can our students effectively learn, without it. Kristy dives into the biology which sees human fulfillment gained through physical and psychological means & the ways technology can be used in congruence with this neurobiology. 

This conversation is so timely for us as teachers being bombarded by technology as well as our students & so many things that Christie shares are practical, not only for our students, but for us as educators navigating this digital world that completely surrounds us.

Show Notes 

Visit Dr Kristy Goodwin's website HERE and learn more about her book, Raising Your Child in the Digital World, HERE!


Looking for CAFS resources to help you & your CAFS crew thrive this term? Check out my Groups in Context resource booklets & other CAFS resources HERE!

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The Learning Network

Since 2004 I have been teaching PDHPE and Community & Family Studies. I love learning. It lights me up. I am so passionate about supporting you to be the best educator you can be.

My Purpose
To grow a lively and connected community, where Community & Family Studies teachers can network, learn and share with each other.

My Mission
To build on the knowledge, understanding and skills of Community & Family Studies teachers to set their students up for success with confidence.



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Show Transcription


Episode Intro - Kelly:

Hey everyone, and welcome back to episode number 26 of the learning network podcast. In this podcast episode, I am joined by Dr. Kristy Goodwin. And this conversation is so timely for us as teachers being bombarded by technology as well as our students. And I think a lot of things that Kristy shared with us today are practical for our students but also for us as educators navigating this digital world that is completely surrounded by us. Dr. Kristy Goodwin studies what it takes to thrive in the digital world. As a former teacher and teacher educator, Kristy translates the science of how the brain and body operate in a digital world into realistic strategy so children and teens as well as us can thrive online and offline. She shares brain based insights into the impact of digitalized childhoods, and adolescents on students physical health, mental well being and learning. Dr. Kristy is an author researcher, and he's frequently called on by the media for her expert opinion on how technology is shaping our focus and wellbeing without proposing digital abstinence. Having presented to Australian and global audiences Kristy provides research based yet realistic strategies to boost students learning and well being in an always on World creasey will decode the new neurobiology of the digitalized lives so our kids and teens can thrive in the digital world. You have my promise that this episode is going to be super insightful. Kris, he shares so many practical strategies for us to support the students in our classroom and their well being, as well as the digital well being of us as educators. constantly surrounded by technology. I feel completely blessed to call Kristy  a friend. She's super smart. She makes research really practical, and every conversation I've ever had with her over the last one is I just, I just love and I know that you're going to love our conversation today about digital wellbeing. So CAFS group please enjoy this episode with Dr. Kristy Goodwin.

Podcast Intro - Kelly:

Hey, I'm Kelly Bell. Welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. I guide Community and Family Studies teachers, newbies and experienced, through best practice to improve knowledge, increase empowerment and alleviate stress, to help you and your students to make meaningful connections across the course. I will share strategic and purposeful applications from my 16 years experience in the classroom that I have adopted to increase student motivation, enjoyment, engagement and results. Together, we will grow and transform your CAFS crew to the next level without impacting your sleep and wellbeing process. To join my free how to improve writing and fast track results webinar, head to So tune in, get inspired and let's connect, learn and grow together. 


Kelly: Hey everyone, and welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. Today we are joined by a very special guest. Dr. Kristy Goodman is joining us today to talk about all things digital well being both of us as teachers as educators, but also for our students. So you've heard her official bio. Kristy, welcome to The Learning Network Podcast.

Kristy: Thank you, Kelly, great to be here with you.

Kelly: Would you add to it in a nutshell to tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and about your journey, starting from obviously, as a teacher, and now on to the space that you're working in?

Kristy: Sure. So I'd love to pretend that I had a really clear career trajectory mapped out but I didn't and I, to be honest, fell into this work by accident. So I've been an educator for 14 years, predominantly in primary schools. And then I experienced what I call as life's greatest equaliser and I became a parent for the first time, and I had been delivering a lot of seminars, studying my PhD, looked at the impact that technology was having on children and their brains and they're learning. And then it wasn't until my first son was born. And he was born six months after the first iPad came out. And that's important for this particular story. That's not how I normally do his chronological age. But we went to our local health care clinic nurse for the six month developmental check. And then the nurse asked me all the regular questions. Was he having tummy time was he babbling had he started solids and then she turned and asked me what screentime he was having. And I was a little bit bamboozled. I thought, well, he's six months of age, he's not having anything. And I remember Joan leaned a little closer and She wagged her finger and she did the Skippy sound and she said, she said Kristy, he really should be having some screen time everyday should be watching some baby einstein DVDs, and he should be learning his colours, shapes and numbers on The iPad. Now as a researcher in this space, I was flabbergasted here we had an allied health professional giving out factually incorrect information.

We know you know, there's no evidence whatsoever that tells us the dunking young kids in the digital stream too early has any benefits whatsoever. If anything, the research now is slowly emerging to tell us that it can have a detrimental effect. But being a first time mum, and I'd foolishly taken the 9am appointment. I know now why no one ever takes the 9am appointment. I hadn't been caffeinated and I was flabbergasted. I just couldn't come up with a coherent response. I couldn't understand why this health professional was telling me that I should be using technology with my young children when I knew the research suggested otherwise. So I went home outraged, gathered my thoughts put my son down for his nap. And he had an enormous you know, the naps, we they sleep for a really long time and you go in and you check that they're breathing, and then you commando crawl out. He slept for four hours that day wasn't what he normally did. But knows four hours, I did two things. The first thing I did is I shared a social media post about babies needing laps, not apps. And it went viral. And the irony isn't lost on me that I was sharing it online. And the second thing I did, I opened up a Word document and I thought I'm going to write a book about this topic because I knew as a researcher, I had access to lots of facts and information about how technology was impacting the brain and the body and learning. But I knew firstly, as a former teacher, he never get time to read academic journals, we never go to conferences where all this information is being disseminated.

So I thought, I'm going to write a book to share what I know in this space. So I open the Word document, I did not write the book in his four hour nap, please do not be deluded into thinking I had superhuman powers. But that was the catalyst for me to start to say I want to be a conduit between what I knew as an academic, what I knew as a researcher about how technology impacts children and adolescents, and what people on the ground need to know what parents need to know what teachers need to know. And so I sort of fell into this work. And it sort of happened around the time when iPads and BYOD programmes were being rolled out in schools. And so I had a lot of school saying, can you come and talk to us about the impact technology is having on children. And so I did that for about eight to 10 years. But in the last three years, things have broadened. And I think we've all realised that none of us adults included are immune to the digital pool. Many of us are slaves to the screen. So my work in recent years has expanded. And I'm looking at the impact technology is having on adults, because we are we're struggling to tame our tech habits. So that's the long story to how I accidentally fell into this sort of work that I now do.

Kelly: And I've heard quite a few of your stories before and if you haven't, if you don't follow Kristy already on social media, that the gems that you share with, you know, teachers, parents, people, you know, it all of us as adults working and we families, it you know, I think it has really shaped a lot of conversations and like you said, you know, one of your posts went viral, those important conversations, I think that people weren't having in the early days and thinking that it was okay, like, technology is surrounding us. But we're kind of not keeping up with you know, I think, you know, like your focus is now on about digital wellbeing and I think coining that term that we need to look after ourselves. And we're really lucky in our CAFS space that wellbeing is the umbrella concept that filters across all of our syllabus. It's like the foundational aspect of our core. So I think maybe if a syllabus rewrite got got changed, it might include this idea about digital well being because it is about balance and having that that time away from screens. But also, if we can't kind of shy away from it, it's not going away. It's you know, it's becoming richer and richer. And obviously, for us as educators COVID really changed that. You know, and I think for us as teachers now moving forward, working out how we can kind of protect ourselves. And I talked to my teachers about protecting your time and well being and I think a lot of the things that I've done to help them do that. But I think that we then throw technology in the mix and then kind of shake things up a lot. 

Kristy: Can I just say it technology really has crept into every single crevice of our lives. There's few aspects of our personal and professional lives that haven't been touched or transformed by technology in recent years. And it's it's an integral part of our lives. So I often say this is why I don't promote digital detoxes or I call it digital amputation banning technology because the reality is it's here to stay. What I focus on for students and adults is how can we use technology in healthy and helpful ways? And I think the best way we can do that is by examining our humaneness. And I say we have to work within our biological constraints. We have as humans, some biological, a biological blueprint that we cannot avoid, we have some fundamental needs that need to be fulfilled both physically and psychologically. And we have to use technology in ways that is congruent with our neurobiology. And to be really honest, many of us are working against our neurobiology, we're multitasking, we're spending hours in front of a screen, we're not getting enough natural sunlight, we're more sedentary than we've been. We're on screens before we go to sleep, and all of these very subtle, but almost accepted digital habits have a profound impact on our well being. And as you said, wellbeing underpins everything and without it. We cannot be effective teachers, our students cannot learn. But it's, as I said, it's it's got its tentacles in every part of our lives, but it's not going away.

Kelly: Yeah, I think COVID told us that that's not going away, if you. And I think I think that's part of you know, I don't want to make a whole big conversation that code. But I think that's what a lot of us as teachers really struggled with. But if you hadn't already use technology in your classroom, that's why you might have felt really behind or you're feeling so stressed because you had to learn the technology, but also then have that, you know, that educators spin on it and teach quality teaching. 

Kristy: Can I just pick up there, and I think COVID really did, um, amplify some of our digital habits. So we know, research told us that during the pandemic, adults were spending an average of 13.28 hours a day on screens, over more than 50% of our waking hours online. And this is why we started to see a lot of people said my sleep changed during the pandemic, and they may have still been getting the same volume of sleep. But a lot of people say I just felt exhausted. And I know I've worked with a lot of teachers recently. And they said, I love this term. They said this term felt like term five, it felt like I was just wiped out I was exhausted. And part of the reason is I think we we were using technology in those incongruent ways. We were we weren't moving. When we move we make a whole lot of neuro chemicals like endocannabinoids, and dopamine and serotonin that make us feel good and regulate our circadian rhythms. We have the outdoor sunlight, again, that reset our body clocks. And so many people weren't getting the right volume of sleep. And because we had exposure to more blue light, ie the light coming from our laptops, and phones and tablets, that blue light, increased blue light exposure meant that we weren't making the same amount amount of melatonin, which is our sleep hormone.

So not only did it mean we it took us longer often to fall asleep. If we were lucky enough to fall asleep at roughly the usual time, what we know is that our deep and our REM sleep stages shrunk. Because when we don't make adequate melatonin, we don't get into that deep restful restorative sleep, this was happening to us. In the pandemic, a lot of us have recalibrated. But what hasn't happened is that hasn't shifted for our students, our secondary students that are on their devices, right up to the minute they fall asleep, this is a huge impact on their learning and their mental health. We know screens are just having a really detrimental impact. So I just sort of wanted to deviate there.

Kelly: No, that's great. And look, you know, as teachers of high school, we see our students in lots of different capacities and trying to teach them at nine o'clock in the morning period, one is often very difficult, because they, you know, probably have had a really rough night, you know, devices, who knows what's happening with them, I think that that side is not up to us, we can't control what's happening at home, you know, but obviously, as, as educators, we can kind of sneak a few of those little life lessons into our classroom. And look, our course does cover that we cover a whole unit called social impact of technology, which is like, you know, and this was developed a really long time ago, a unit of work. And I think a lot of it was more about machines and robots and that type of thing sneaking in, but it has really, you know, captured a lot of a lot of the content that now our students do study. So if we're looking at our beautiful students in front of us, and we're trying to help them, you know, grasp really, you know, really difficult concepts and we're trying to tackle this idea that they're not getting enough sleep as educators what can you know, what can we do kind of to help them, our students in the classroom be supported? Maybe with that kind of that balance of technology?

Kristy: Yes. So one of my strategies and again, it applies to all of us, but particularly our students is to avoid bookending our day with technology So I'm talking about it being the first thing we reach for in the morning. And the last thing we look at before we go to sleep. What happens is in the morning, if it's the first thing we reach for, what happens is we actually activate the limbic part of our brain. That's the almost like the emotional hub of our brain. And so you only need to see one upsetting email, maybe you've been told you've been allocated an extra period to cover or an additional playground duty or a colleague sending you a bit of a terse email, your students only need to see one upsetting social media comment or one nasty message. And that limbic brain is already on, what we have done is activate the stress response. And so we end up in this elevated stress response. And what happens is, I believe that technology, the alerts, the pings, the dings, the reminders, These act as little micro stresses, and these micro stresses accumulate throughout the day. And so when we start off the day already, in an elevated stress state, what happens is this constantly builds equally, the hour before we go to sleep, ideally should be screened free. Now I know that's a near impossibility for adolescents. What I do say is that if they have to be online, particularly if they're doing homework, or let's be honest, the last minute assignment that has to be submitted before midnight, I recommend they invest in blue light blocking glasses.

So I can share a link to a product that I personally use and recommend Baxter blue and give you a nice little discount code. But that blue light blocking glasses actually stopped the eye from absorbing that blue light. So hopefully, their pineal gland still makes that melatonin that we need to help them to fall asleep. So that would be a key one. Another thing that I say to students and I often say the basics work, if we work the basics, if we go back to our biological blueprint, one of the things that we need that we cannot avoid that will help our students focus two things. The first one is sunlight. So if you can encourage your students, if you can put you know open the blinds in the classroom, if you can sort of move some of their desks if you've got the opportunity to go outside into an open outside learning space, we want to encourage them to get as much natural natural sunlight, because sunlight helps them to increase their focus, it helps them to pay attention. Ideally, all of us should be exposed to natural sunlight or if you are an early bird and wake up while it's dark turning on artificial lights is okay. But we need to be flooded with as much light as we can within the first 30 minutes of waking up. That sends clear signals to our brain that we need to start to focus and we turn on our prefrontal cortex. So exposure to sunlight. We also know interestingly, that in the last couple of years, we have seen a huge surge in diagnosed myopia, which is nearsightedness. Now, our first conclusion will probably be it's all the screen time. It's actually not we don't actually think it's from directly from looking at a screen it there could be a hereditary factor that might contribute to that risk factor. But what we know it is, is that young people aren't getting enough natural sunlight. The developing eye needs at least two hours a day in natural sunlight spread throughout the day.

So 10 minutes here, half an hour here to help offset myopia. We're not quite sure if it's the vitamin D that's elongating the eye, or is it that when you're outside in sunlight, you have to look at things further away to develop that depth of vision. So I would encourage them as best you can to get that sunlight, preferably in the early hours of the day. And the third strategy is get the moving. We know that when we move as I mentioned before we make another thing in our brain called BDNF and BDNF are basically like fertiliser for our brain when we move and it doesn't have to be a 30 minutes, you know PE lesson beforehand. It can be little micro movements, some squats, some lunges, some some wall sets and chair dips, any sort of micro movement that gets the moving will also help them to focus because as humans, we were biologically designed to move we weren't designed to sit, so they'd be my three not bookending your day with screens, getting exposure to natural sunlight, ideally two hours a day and thirdly, getting them active to try and help them to focus.

Kelly: Very good tips and I think lucky most of us as CAFS teachers, our PHP teachers anyway. So I think that we have a wealth of tips up your sleeve, I'm sure for those micro movements. And I think even something that I've tried to encourage my teachers is you might not want to do that. You know that the depths or the squats or the wall sets, but you can actually have classroom activities that are encouraging the kids to move. So I think gallery walk, having student work around your classroom, moving the furniture away or even just getting the kids to turn that on. You know, in their spot walking around the room engaging with an activity or a quote, or some sort of stimulus, possibly getting them to do something like four corners where you might have some sort of discussion or debate and say, Okay, if you strongly agree, go to that corner. Agree, disagree, strongly disagree in the other quarter, just I think kind of getting the kids up and moving. Even if it is for that tiny, you know, that five minutes, m&a activity is better than nothing. Something that I introduced when I worked at a senior school was 10 updates, and we had a bit of some money left over in our budget, and I got some desks for our classroom, they went really well, they went really well for my pay boys. But with the girls, they were really reluctant to use them at first, but I think the boys were active anyway. And they really liked it. A lot of the girls like, Oh, nice, some of them even wanted to change classes, because we had standup desks in our 50 minutes.

Kristy: So, it's interesting you say that about boys. And I want to explain why why do boys move more than girls? Why do they appear to be restless or you know, fidgeting. And the reason is, their brains make dopamine by moving. So they are the kids that are sitting in class, like shaking their legs and kicking and moving and nudging each other. That's why they would have loved the stand up desk, they would have got to be active. And when they're active, they make dopamine. Dopamine not only makes them feel good, dopamine in the right quantities helps them to focus. So it's so interesting that you saw what again, working with our natural biology, not to say that girls don't need to move, but they do. But they don't need that movement to create the dopamine in the way that boys do.

Kelly: It's really interesting. And because I had the talent, what was a pool of talented development class, whatever. Basically, I had about 15 athletes at both state or national level in our classroom, and I was their PE teacher just you know, stage six. So we had football player, we had a sprinter, we had a shotput soccer play out quite a few soccer players. But you could see like the boys just need that time and that space and you could you know, they were able to actually concentrate one of our elite football players who plays for the roosters. Now, you could see he was so much better than stood up and he had you know, he wasn't the most studious kind of kid in the world. But you could say that focus it was like, yep, game on, I'm here. I'm ready to go. I even said to them once. Human human teamwork. He was a sprinter. They weren't. They just weren't sent. So can you guys just stand here for two seconds. We're just trying to get through to see the whole mess. You know, though, I don't know what though, why there were so excited that days and go for a run, go from home and come back. So they did two laps around the kind of our block in the classroom. And it was all of the others. We were laughing at them as they kind of ran past and kind of gave us a wave on their way past. Yeah. 

Kristy: And I think also being outside, I can talk about green time to balance our screen time. And we've got research that tells us that just 40 seconds in nature will reduce our cortisol levels, the light, and often, these are really just basic things that we've often forgotten to do. So again, you know, going outside, teaching them breathing techniques, we know breathing techniques is one of the surest quickest ways to regulate their nervous system so that students and us can pay attention. So there's really simple things again, when we work within our neurobiological blueprint that we have.

Kelly: I love that and I think, you know, you said before, using outdoor spaces, if we don't have outdoor spaces at our schools, schools aren't, weren't developed like that. Maybe a lot of the new schools are but even if you have a concrete jungle, like I did, you know, in a Big Sandy campus, only just so recently, going out to the picnic tables or going out to eat or going to the yarning circle. And you know, having a lesson outside like that, and it's not always as good as well, it's going to be when you're in the classroom, for some reason the kids get distracted. They want to chat amongst themselves when you're outside. But if you can set up a different type of activity outside and have that once a week, like imagine that once a week and have your you know, for periods or five periods for that week. You know, the kids will thank you for that. And I think for us, a lot of our students are girls, not boys in community Family Studies for some unknown reason that causes for everyone, but we still have like literally 90 or 98% of our students, our candidates are girls. Wow. But yeah, we can do lots to help our students. It was to really regulate us that type of thing. So what about teachers who are reluctant to use technology in the classroom? Because if they kind of say, well, they use it all the time, we don't need to use it. I'm going to I'm not going to use that their device whether it be a laptop or a phone even iPad as a means for learning, what's your kind of take on that, because that's a conversation that many, you know, high school teachers do have that they have that are not enough, we're not going to implement that in into our classroom.

Kristy: I have an interesting take on this. And I think technology is an amplifier. If you're a really great teacher, if you've got good pedagogical practice under your belt, then technology if it's used intentionally, and if it's used in developmentally appropriate ways can certainly amplify and strengthen your teaching. But equally, if you're not a good teacher, if your pedagogy is a little bit wobbly or shaky, it can certainly amplify that. And so I often see technology as just another tool in your toolkit. It's not the silver bullet. I know, I, you know, Apple would love for me to say that iPads and laptops, they're the silver bullet, they change learning. They don't change learning if there's not good pedagogy wrapped around it. So I like to use the analogy that it is just another tool in your toolkit. So I encourage teachers to only ever use technology, where the technology adds value, does it allow the students to learn in more innovative ways, let's say you're teaching some complicated scientific process or function of the body, then using an animation would be a brilliant tool to allow the students to learn in ways that a textbook or a verbal explanation just would not suffice.

So I think we have to be very careful about forcing technology in so that we can tick the box in our programme that said, we integrated technology, I see some very artificial, some very superficial uses of technology where it isn't necessarily adding value. And the good old fashioned pencil and paper task, or the class discussion, or the plenary session would have been a far better choice. So I think it comes back to I use it often use the three, imagine three concentric circles. One circle is your curriculum, you've got to know your content really well. The other circle that you've got to know is your pedagogy, but didn't know how to deliver that curriculum. And the third sector is technology. And the sweet spot is where those three sectors naturally roll, you know, crossover, and I just I'm concerned in some ways that a lot of teachers feel pressure to use technology. Again, going back to how is the best way I can deliver this content? What is the best tool for this particular task and mapping it that way? I think we then make better decisions rather than artificially or using technology in a contrived way.

Kelly: Yeah, got some great advice. I think I often kind of say technology for technology's sake, probably isn't the best way to go. And we need to think about, you know, for me working out where you know, what we're teaching. So the syllabus working out what our learned, we have learned to learn about steel in our in our syllabus, working out what where that is, and where they were like where it was going. And working out your teaching and learning activity rather than the other way around. Many of us go, here's a really great fun activity. But okay, well, how's this fitting in with the big picture of our course, throw technology into the mix, and it kind of does then, yeah, maybe not deliver the message that you wanted to live with the kids? Yeah, on this the same kind of topic as technology embedded into your classroom. So our students are essentially sitting there. HSC. CAFS is a HSC subject. So we have our HSC exam at the end, something I often have a conversation with teachers about is that there's supposed to be parts of this textbook rewriting from the textbook handwritten or even, you know, typing it out rewriting that part of it. And then also, you know, getting the kids to just copy notes down from the board or even copy notes down into into their laptop, that type of thing.

My kind of taken it has been recently that I would really encourage my teachers to maybe not give the kids the notes. But let's focus more on that application of knowledge and understanding. I think, rather than just giving, you know, giving the kids a textbook and say copy this as a whole lesson, I think we can really use a power of technology to start to work mainly on some ways that we can get the kids to start applying it, you know, their understanding. So things like Google Docs is a love. You know, Google, I know that. Not everyone's a Google person, but using the power of like a Google Drive with your students and you know, them keeping their kind of content or their notes or whatever you're doing in class to kind of have that sitting in there. Can you provide any advice around you know, systematising or organising work, that type of thing?

Kristy: Yes, so let me just share some insights because teachers often find this interesting. I think we instinctively and intuitively know it. We have got multiple studies that tell us that students and adults will we'll retain far more information. If we handwrite it as compared to if we type it. When we handwrite it, we use muscle memory. And we also have to paraphrase and synthesise, if, if we're not copying directly. If we're sort of taking notes from a lecture or from a video or from an animation, we then paraphrase that information. But because our students are such proficient type, as most of them, when they type information, they're often typing it verbatim. And they don't get the same muscle memory. Because when I write the letter A there are particularly particular muscles and muscle memory that is activated. But when I type, it is the exact same muscle memory like I am just pointing with more, perhaps multiple fingers. So that is an important thing to consider. In terms of our students ability to organise information, I think many teachers are quite flabbergasted at some of the very rudimentary basic computer skills that a lot of students develop and demonstrate, I think we've assumed well, they're digital natives, they've grown up in this world. And their file management systems and their capacity to take notes are not there. These are skills that have to be explicitly taught. And there's often not a specific subject area that is responsible for teaching these skills. And I know from cross faculty meetings, a lot of teachers are flabbergasted to see just how poor some of those skills are.

What I also want to speak to is a game where technology can step in is we now know that students, most students preferred mode of learning is visual, because they are consuming so much visual content in their leisure time, tick tock Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube Gaming, we know that they're part of their brain, it's called their occipital lobe. That process is what we see. It has a preference for visuals. So can we use visuals in our lessons? Can we create a flowchart? Can we present the information as an infographic, instead of getting them to copy, you know, notes or type up notes? Could they label a diagram? Could they create a flow chart? Could they do something visually to convey what it is that they've learned? And again, tapping in if they do love using technology? Can we get them to connect and collaborate with their peers? Like they like chatting online? Could you have a post and encourage them share your your thoughts and insights? So trying to tap in and say, Well, hang on, what is it about social media and their, you know, leisure pursuits? It's so appealing? How could I perhaps take some of this and apply it in my classroom to engage them? Again, not using technology in a superficial way, but sort of tapping into their preferences and predispositions that way?

Kelly: Yeah, that's interesting. You talk about that. Because I think, because there's this misconception and I have had literally standard arguments with my students in class. I remember the first time I came back from sorry, the second time I came back from maternity leave. So when I came back from leave with Lex, I came into a class it was HSC would say that the assignment in you in turn for her this Janet conversate argument with a tape we've heard another student talking about. She said to me, we just want the notes. I'm like, No, this is not about these, you need to actually apply your understanding to our content. If I just give you the notes, you're not going to there's not much learning happening there. It's just you know, here it is, here's regurgitating that information from the textbook or whatever else. But I think there's still conversations and that was, you know, 10 years ago, fast track only a couple of years ago, when I stood in the classroom having conversation with the kid saying, No, we're not just taking the notes, you 12 It's not just about taking the notes, and you have to apply your understanding. I think a lot of HSC teachers still think that if my students don't have the notes in their book, or they're not hanging on their notes, or they're not copying and pasting something from, you know, wherever, you know, Canvas or wherever else and putting it into the notes, they're not going to learn it. And I think, you know, HSC results, you see that this is why you can't just, you know, expect kids to remember information off by heart, they actually have to apply it to a situation or whatever.

Kristy: I totally agree. Yeah, I really agree. And we know that that superficial copying doesn't necessarily lead to long term retention. It's just often a skill of regurgitation. And we know that moving into the 21st century that we are going to I think one of the biggest threats facing us all but particularly our students is a concept called info obesity, this idea that there is just so much information to consume. And our brains have a finite threshold. We've got a cognitive capacity that like your computer has a hard drive that only has a certain storage space. So to do Is your brain. And so our brain is very efficient, it figures out what is relevant to retain. So getting students as you said, Kelly, getting them to actively apply their knowledge. One of the things I'm very cautious about is a lot of teachers are saying, Oh, I embedded technology, they watched a video or showed them an animation. And that is just as passive as sitting there consuming information, reading the notes, you then have to do something with that. Is it paraphrasing the video? Is it doing up a T chart with the for and against arguments that came out of that video. So as you said, really encouraging our students to be active users, especially with the technology as well, I think it's just such an important skill, because there's going to be a threshold as to how much information they can retain.

The other thing too, I love when I run workshops with teachers, I do a little experiment, and I won't do it now. But we know our brain is really efficient. If it recognises I'm not going to remember things. And this statistic terrifies teachers, but we know the brain remembers the beginning. And the end of lessons. It forgets the missing middle. We call it the premacy and the recency effect. Think about the last movie that you went and watched. Could be on Netflix could be in the movies, I bet you can recall the opening scenes and the closing scenes with a fair degree of clarity. But our recall of the middle is a little bit blurry. Did that happen before that? No, no, no that that that scene happened there. And so our brain says I want to remember the beginning. And the end, as a teacher that is so powerful, how you open and how you close your lessons, really is the crux of what your students will remember. And that's why I often say to teachers, our students aren't actually designed. I don't know if most of your students are still having 4050 minute periods. Some I know how longer 70.

Yeah, our brain and students attention spans we know should roughly be their chronological age, plus or minus one. So a 15 year old, less likely to take a 17 year old, they're in their final year of study, they should have a 16 to 18 minute attention span. That is it. So expecting them to sit there for 17 minutes and pay attention to you or the interactive whiteboard or copying notes is completely unrealistic. That's why we need to have more risks. And we need to chunk down our lessons. Again, when we do that we actually create more beginnings and endings. Our kids will remember more information. So there's really simple brain based strategies that we can apply. Again, when we work within our biological constraints.

Kelly: It's such great advice. And I know that we could probably sit here all day talking about strategies, and I think, yeah, I think just looking at small little tweaks, I say this to my teachers, small little tweaks can have a really big impact on the kids, even us as educators, but us as adults, and you know, the way we use our devices. So I think if you were if you were to change one thing that happened in schools at the moment around technology with our kids, what what would that look like, do you think?

Kristy: This is one that I know teachers would appreciate students would appreciate and parents as well. And that is changing the deadline for assignment submission. I see so many schools who have you know, the deadline is 11:59pm. As teachers, we know your students are often starting that assignment at 9pm. Let's be honest, a lot of our students are. And so I think again, just a really simple tweak would be adjusting those assignment deadlines so that kids aren't staying up later using devices. The other thing related to that would be and it's not related to technology. But my big concern is, as you said at the beginning today, Kelly period, one for most students is really challenging. We know as young people hit puberty and adolescence, their circadian rhythms change, and they naturally fall asleep later. This is now fueled by technology because they're online and that remember that blue light afoot delays the onset of their sleep. So I would love and I know some schools in Victoria have experimented with it, I would love to see some more flexible start times, particularly for our adolescents. That's a really big ask and I'm told that it has huge implications for our transport systems. That's why it will be a no but I think where we can making some some adjustments to those times will have a profound impact on our students sleep and their capacity to learn. So I snuck into wishes there. 

Kelly: That's all right, two wishes is fine. Teachers would like to connect with you further and hear more about your programmes. Follow on socials where can they find you?

Kristy: So I'm at and I share bite sized bits of information on Instagram, Facebook, and also on LinkedIn if you're after more professional kind of content.

Kelly: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Kristy. 

Kristy: Pleasure.

Kelly: I know our teachers are going to get a lot out of today.

Kristy: Thank you!



All right CAFS crew. Let me know how many strategies you took from today's episode. Kristy is amazing and makes those that research really practical. And I love that and I wish more researchers, lectures included, made the, you know, made their findings, so much more easier to unpack. So this is a really important conversation. Technology isn't going away. But we know the impact of it. And I'm pretty sure during COVID, many of us felt the pinch with 1000s of emails, Google Classroom notifications, text messages from our colleagues asking us how to do things, phone calls from people from school, even our own children if we're a parent. So it's really important that we protect our well being a digital well being and our like I said in our episode, I think if the syllabus, if there is a rewrite, it might look a bit different. It might include digital well being in there. So please let me know what you thought of today's episode. I know that it's super practical. And these are the sorts of conversations that we have inside the CAFS collective my CAFS membership, and Kristy was one of our first guest experts in the CAFS collective. So if you would like to learn more about the CAFS collective and some really practical things that you can support, your CAFS journey but also your journey as a teacher, head over to the Ford slash CAFS collective to check my membership out 

Thanks for joining The Learning Network, I'd love to hear what connected with you most about today's episode. Take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram and Facebook, @thelearnnet. If you'd like to know more about my courses, MasterClasses, Coaching and Mentoring and Membership, you can DM me over on Facebook or Instagram or head to Don't forget to stay connected by subscribing to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and if you love today's episode, I would be so honoured if you could please leave me a review. See you again next week. Let's continue to connect, grow and learn together to make a huge impact on the students we teach. 

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