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3 ways to integrate mindfulness in your online class, inspired by @marcparry’s “You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help.”

David Levy at University of Washington guides students in meditation before each class and integrates practices like the ’email drill’ to support learner mindfulness.

How many “Om”s does it take to power online student success?

If you haven’t yet read You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education you’re in for a treat.

David Levy’s course “Information and Contemplation” engages students in mind-training exercises like an email drill where learners practice doing nothing but email for 15 minutes of time. Activities like this help students tune in to the overlap between their attention and intention. From both metacognitive and a wellness perspective, this makes sense.

Integrating mindfulness in education isn’t a surprise to followers of Howard Rheingold who has been encouraging educators to integrate ‘netsmart‘ literacies including attention, participation, collaboration, “crap detection,” and “network smarts.”

You don’t have to look far these days to see integrations of mindful practices such as mindfulness and yoga in face to face education…

but how can we use this in online education?

“Mindfulness is... #TP456

“Mindfulness is…  (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

Here are three ways you can easily integrate mindfulness in your online class.

  1. Make them stretch – Add a “hands on/minds on” activity to the instructions of a challenging activity. Utilize Vanderbilt University’s Desk Yoga Practices .pdf with option to share an artifact after – perhaps to the course hashtag, G+ community, or FB group.
  2. Help them breathe – Integrate full brain breathing into audio narrations, podcasts, YouTube videos/screencasts, and synchronous webconferencing events. Simple cues like “Relax. Breathe deeply.” or “So let’s just breathe for a moment as we take that in” can help students take in more breath during learning. What is the cumulative effect of all of your learners brains getting more fresh blood and oxygen? In case you didn’t know it, breathing is something we don’t tend to do well while online; read more about email apnea. Not only does deep breathing increase brain power, it also reduces stress. How can educators get familiar with breathing (known in yoga as pranayama) practice? The best way is to practice it yourself.
  3. Create a virtual relaxation roomShare your favorite chillax YouTube clips in a playlist for your learners. There’s more to YouTube than cats and educational videos, right? Find some relaxing clips, add them to a playlist and share in your course. I started with this loving kindness meditation for college students – maybe you’d pick a relaxing beach or zen garden. Perhaps you’d ask your students to contribute resources for the relaxation room.

Whichever ideas you explore… talk about your integrations of mindfulness to your learners in your course. Encourage discussion of their ideas and thoughts about information, work, health and technology. Perhaps sharing some articles about David Levy’s course will be a nice segue into this topic with your learners. Most of all? Don’t get too attached to what students do with the resources you put out there – just share it with good thoughts and consider it an offering.

You can read more about meditation, yoga and education in these articles. Enjoy!

Morning Yoga class

Morning Yoga class (Photo credit: J P Davidson)

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