Organizational problem solving around digital distraction

Vincent Cho ( Boston College Chestnut Hill United States )

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Publication date: 3 March 2016



As digital devices (e.g., laptops, tablets) have become increasingly ubiquitous, so too has students’ potential for digital distraction. It is yet unknown how teachers and schools might effectively handle such challenges. Accordingly, this study explores educators’ encounters with digital distraction among students, including their work toward addressing the problem.


This mixed-methods case study drew upon interview and survey data. Data were analyzed to describe educators’ encounters with and problem solving around digital distraction. This included the use of social network analysis. Specifically, a core-periphery model helped illuminate patterns in collaborative problem solving.


Students’ distractions included online entertainment and sending messages. This added to an overall atmosphere of distractedness in classrooms. Rather than collaborate around digital distraction, teachers tended to handle these issues on their own. If teachers did talk to others, these instances were more likely complaints to leaders than peer-to-peer collaborations.

Research limitations/implications

This study provides a descriptive account of one school and its problem solving around digital distraction. Building upon this study, future research might address the effectiveness of approaches for handling distraction, the influence of network structures on problem solving, and the factors influencing educators’ collaboration around technology.


Digital distraction is a new challenge in schools and in society. This study lays groundwork for understanding and addressing this issue. It also demonstrates one way to apply core-periphery analyses toward understanding problem solving.


Cho, V. (2016), "Organizational problem solving around digital distraction", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 1 No. 2.

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