Does technology always help us to learn?

My sat-nav certainly doesn’t help me to learn about navigation.  Whereas I would ponder over maps, comparing the merits and weaknesses of various routes, I now type in postcode and follow the directions almost without interest in the route it’s commanding me to follow.

I used to be able to do mental arithmetic.  I suppose I’m not too bad at it now.  But I wonder if calculators have hindered our ability to convert litres per kilometre to miles per gallon in our head.  I suspect it might be the case.

And using word processors has not helped my ability to spell, although my trpyings improved.

Cutting and pasting may not help me learn much either.

I get the feeling that there are occasions in which technology helps us to learn about technology and may actually distract us from deeper learning.  If I ask my students to write a blog, when they could quite happily submit their work as a word processor file, then does that help their learning? They would learn about blogging I suppose.

I remember being taught how to use a phone – that might betray my age.  However, I never really considered that I was interacting with the phone – I was interacting with the person on the other end of the line.

If we’re using technology to facilitate learning interactions, we might need to beware of the technology getting in the way. When it’s used appropriately however, it seems to be able to transform learning. I guess that depends on who’s learning (e.g. their ability to use a phone) as well as what they’re learning.

So there’s a lot to learn in how to learn using technology…

 

Professor John Fothergill

About these ads
Leave a comment

3 Comments

  1. Chris Webster

     /  June 28, 2011

    Many of the relatively new technological aids may not help us learn directly – your example of cutting and pasting is one – but they help me learn by saving me time and therefore allowing me to have more time for more ‘productive’ learning activities. I can write a report, make notes, record ideas, etc. much more efficiently. Time is finite – I would rather be, as this last weekend, visiting the archaeological dig at Burrough Hill and listening to the talks there, than handwriting and editing and re-writing a complex report, which takes far less time on my p.c.

    Reply
  2. bdra

     /  June 28, 2011

    One could create a learning activity around a SatNav, such as “Follow the map and predict the SatNav’s suggestions before they are made”. So I would look at how we could use a technology, rather than what it is designed for, or how it is usually used.

    Paul Rudman, BDRA

    Reply
  3. As I have said before, we need an Indian equivalent of HHMI. I also think we
    should encourage thesis by publication for research students because whether
    like it or not, publications matter. We should encourage more and more
    internships from high school on so kids can see what the daily drudgery of
    research is and how we love science in spite of all that.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 685 other followers

%d bloggers like this: