Brittney Stewart

Special Education Aide, education

This conversation is closed.

An emphasis on technology actually reduces the amount of learning.

Some of the leaders of Google and Silicon Valley are sending their children to schools that are bereft of technology. Their children use pen and paper and are surrounded by books at school. Technology is seen as a tool that would hamper the learning process rather than enhance it.

It seems to qualify itself when the engineers of these products and ideas would prefer their children not be exposed to technology until they're in 8th grade and beyond.

  • Oct 25 2011: To some degree, computers and computer programs did interfere with personal, face-to-face interactions, limiting them and reducing the number of social-life meetings. But, they also rapidly increased a person's direct communication to their own thoughts, ideas, and visions, from their brains and minds into "real pictures" and products and bringing practical applications to the world.

    Technology and its advancement, requires learning. The use of technology or how it is used, is another thing. Where I live, people think the computer is a toy. They call Instant Messenger a game. They say they played "it" over the weekend. Most of what they do is play games on-line, email and that is it. The malls are filled with computer type "arcade games" that are for the youngest of people but adults play them all the time and think they are great and that they used a computer. Games with arcade music and a touch-screen board to pick out the shapes that are the same. The difficulty is the time frame. Very simple. Everyone scores and almost never loses.

    This is not because of technology. It is a matter of their educational system, their government and their institutions. This mirrors virtually all countries especially the U.S. where the dumbing-down of the populace has been going full bore for decades. Everything we use is the result of technology which is an extension of human beings, their minds, brains, education, desire to help and improve life for many and it will need to improve, develop, create and continue to help us all. We really need to see that people are our greatest resource and by helping us become more intelligent and capable, we develop smarter humans who can make better decisions that positively and constructively help and affect us all.

    I do math in my head, with a pencil and paper and a calculator. Many today cannot but they can use a calculator in ways and speed that I can't. Someday, this won't matter. Calculators weren't for not thinking but to improve it
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    Oct 27 2011: Here is informative article that discusses the harm that excessive use of technology can create for the young learner.
    See: "The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains" http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/ff_nicholas_carr/all/1
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    Oct 27 2011: There are pros and cons to everything. Technology can be very tricky in situation like these. To what extent should it be used? In my opinion the initial schooling years shouldn't use any kind of technology. Children need to be taught to rely on themselves before they start relying on technology for answers. Brain is a muscle which also needs to be exercised daily for better use.
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    Oct 26 2011: It's true. Using technology further scatters our brains and makes us think we can "multitask" when, in fact, we really cannot. I watched a video in my Electronic Multimedia and Society class last year about technology in classrooms. The video is called: "Digital Nation: Life on the Digital Frontier" and the link: (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/)there was a topic brought up about a Stanford (or Harvard) study done with students who thought they could multitask.
    The study proved that even though the students thought they could multitask well (read while watching TV or listening to music; or read while facebooking and listening to music) they, in fact, could not.

    It's smart for the technology leaders to do this because kids today, in some well-off schools, provide their elementary students with iPads. It's great to learn these technologies when you're at a young age so you'll be well-off and familiar with the technology when you're older; at the same time, it opens up this Pandora's Box of chaos that can ultimately affect the child's learning capacity, ability and maybe even creativity.

    At that age, their mind is still developing and I believe that is why a large number of kids these days are ADD or have ADHD. They sit for hours at the computer, playing games of various sorts, browsing their favorites social media site and probably listening to music and or reading while they're doing it. But I digress...

    I remember when I was a child, I had Legos to play with. I felt like I was an engineer of sorts, because I would very seldom build according to the instructions. I loved to see what I could create with just my imagination. I would build spaceships or rockets or boats or cars just with what I had.
    I think children and young adults are hampered by their computers or gadgets because it requires a heavy time investment on our part to keep up with the tec
  • Oct 25 2011: Exactly, excessive use of technology taking children away from basic way of doing things which play important role in development of brain.
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    Oct 25 2011: a short and simple answer: no
    why?
    because learning (as I understand it) is more the replication of facts.
    it is facts and figueres and knowledge in action.
    it is about reflection and motivation.
    those things are best learned in an supportive, human and loving environment - which is not very much dependent on technology, but on emotionality, hospitality etc.
  • Oct 25 2011: Technology is a fact of life today. To ignore it is to put yourself at a disadvantage. If this school teaches the students ho to think for themselves without letting technology think for them, then I agree with it. If it teaches them the value of hard word, persistence, diligence and quality of product then it is doing them a real service. However, some of these lessons can be learned with technology assistance as well. For example, not everyone can visit the pyramids in Egypt, but to see a well done documentary on the subject might be a very effective learning experience. Use of a pen and paper to teach children how to write before they can type is a great idea. Taking children to places and letting them experience things, tell stories, give speeches, do presentations, learn about the libraries and know the old techniques is worthwhile and should broaden thier learning experience. However, technology has its good points as well. Perhaps the parent should moderate how much is done by each technique to make sure the work ethic lessons are in place by the time the child becomes an adult.
    • Oct 25 2011: Robert > Yes, technology is a fact of life today. Learning to integrate the use of ever advancing concepts through media connectives is a must for societal advancement. The groundwork however has to be developed firmly before properly utilizing new technologies.
      My path started 40 years ago, and despite small adventures into the vastness of internet space, my own training came from within. Only in the last few months, have I allowed myself the luxury of expanding into the global collective knowledge base.
      The basis for my learning was a strong determination to remain quiet, observe everything and then meditate upon this information gathered. The path to my own 'enlightenment' was firmly based in the knowledge of a higher source of communication and assistance. I had to make myself believe that any fear or doubt would only serve as roadblocks to my search for truth and wisdom. I later discovered that the addition of approaching all learning through the lens of humility and love, becomes the key to better understanding.
      If Children dive into the tech world with no firm human basis, the end result will be enslavement not enlightenment. (imho) A holistic approach of a wholesome diet, meditation, exercise and a strong family bond will aid our children in utilizing this new global collective. One cannot advance past a certain point if one harbours hatred or unforgiveness within their own mind. When one sets oneself free of conceived ideas, and opens up to limitless possibilities; the impossible can indeed become probable.
      The key is love of learning combined with faith in ones' dreams and goals. If one just wants to 'entertain' themselves, then that's what will always be true to them. If one decides to advance oneself, then with proper determination and an unrestrained spirit, one will indeed fullfill their deepest desires.
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    Nov 6 2011: Stephen Hawking can probably attest to that.
  • Nov 4 2011: Why does it seem to qualify itself ?!
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    Nov 3 2011: True. Technology is killing our intellectual mind and is making us dumb. There were times when you had to remember a certain date or information, keep it in your head for days, and make sure to never forget it. Now we have iphone and android apps for things like that. People don't even bother to remember. They just write it down and that's it.

    Its the same thing with kids. They are exposed to technology way too much,
    and that is killing their education. They aren't being creative anymore.
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    Nov 3 2011: No, we cant confuse the tool with the application or use of that tool. Technology is a set of tools, usefull for some tasks very well defined. Learning is a human virtue. Technlogy could be from stone age, or from silicon age,,,the same.
    • Nov 3 2011: Very well put.

      Expecting the technology to teach the material is silly. Using it as a tool to do so is not.

      Thinking that technology itself is the issue and not the people who misuse it is dangerous.
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    Oct 31 2011: When I see toddlers at the supermarket playing with their parent's smart phones, I don't find it amusing...I wonder how their brains are being wired. What opportunities are they missing in the world to smell the produce, feel textures, and smile and communicate with their parents.

    We home-schooled our boys and chose not to have a television. We provided lots of open ended toys and materials for them to use their imagination and create.

    One of our prized moments in parenthood happened when our first born son who is presently 17 said " I've never been bored a day in my life!". He has never relied on external stimuli to entertain him, but has instead chosen to use his imagination to create. Both are boys use the computer now that they are older and the younger one definitely began earlier than the older one, simply because he was copying behavior.

    I am a firm believer in lots of exposure to nature, and real world experiences. However, if the options are dull worksheets over well thought out technology, then some technology might be better. But perhaps a trip to the park is better than the most sophisticated technology.
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    Oct 29 2011: A tool correctly used with a purpose enhances.

    Using a tool for the sake of using it is far less effective.
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    Oct 29 2011: Here`s a story of my experience on using technology in learning. I`m a student, first year of college (electrical and information engineering). We use Power Point presentations on most of our classes, and we also used it on some classes while I was still in high school. ALL of my classmates find them NOT helpful. PP is maybe great for professors because they save time not writing on blackboard, but it surely isn`t for us students. Using PP in learning on a regular basis results in NOT going into depth. Especially in eg. physics, math, logics - where one has to practice resolving problems. The best way to do that is firstly to observe your professor resolving eg. a math problem, then trying it for yourself, hundreds of times. Proven a million times.
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    Oct 28 2011: "i use google everyday but I still can't remember the order of its logo's colors...." -

    Something I came across on twitter. It says it all. And this is exactly why technology should be limited in initial schooling years. Presence of mind and awareness is highly important which is enhanced by focus but thanks to "multifunctional" technology, we can hardly do that. Doing multiple thigns at a time and hardly giving anythign undivided attention. Awareness of surrounding is highly important specially in situations where critical thinking and analytical skills are required. And these kind of skills aren't developed in one night, it needs to be practiced everyday. Not to forget these are the kind of skills which are now missing in most of the young employees and they are also needed in day to day issues.
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    Oct 25 2011: Hi Brittney, Massively increasing the amount of learning. not by pen and paper but by the interactive learning technology can be more helpful than pen and paper our brain learning from experiences more than from reading and more effective.
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      Oct 27 2011: However, it's too often not used in that way. It's described as a panacea, that will solve our problems, but what will happen when the electricity is cut off, and we can't google? Therein lies the problem.
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    Oct 25 2011: I believe that education and technology do not have to be split from one another, as education can improve your technological skills and qualities and technology can enhance your learning skills. I do however believe that the overusage of technology hampers the educational system by often making it redundant for a lot of people. A quick google or wikipedia search often answers a huge selection of questions which are found on the lower, middle and highschools. The danger is that we seem to be growing into a society where information is being confused with knowledge. Hence the importance of philosophy (where there is never an easy answer) and criticism. The academic pursuit is often not to learn vast heaps of information but to learn to think, associate, doubt and relate. This cannot be learned from technology.
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    Oct 25 2011: I would agree when the technology is made out to be a big deal. If you treat it like you would treat paper and pencil, just as a tool then wonderful things can happen. We must remember that to the kids we are teaching now, technology is just a things that you use as you would a toaster or a microwave. It is we who make it a big deal and distract from the learning.

    My 2 cents
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    Oct 25 2011: Brittney,

    Glad to see you start this interesting conversation. Also, since you are my neighbor in the Houston area please consider joining us this Saturday for a meet-up for friends and alumni of TEDxTheWoodlands. See here: http://tedxthewoodlands.com/meet-up-1/ Also, our next TEDx event will be on Jan. 7th, 2012 again in The Woodlands.

    Back to your question. The article to which you refer is likely this one: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html I have some first-hand experience in this area because I and my wife and pursued an eclectic education for our children which included participation in Waldorf-based education.

    The interesting question for me is not whether technology reduces the amount of learning, but rather whether high technology (electronic computing devices that have become communication and information devices) creates a type of learning that is superior to the kind of learning that eschews such devices for the YOUNG person, whose cognitive and emotional state is markedly different from that of mature adults.

    I don't deny the huge benefits that the internet can provide the world. I am focusing on opportunity costs and the impact of high tech on the development of the young mind and character.

    Based on my first-hand observations, I believe that a young person would enjoy a superior educational experience when the focus is on holistic experiences that focus on nature and natural phenomenon rather than virtual representations of nature. Part 2 coming a bit later.
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      Oct 27 2011: Yes, that's the article that so catalyzed me.

      I don't doubt that technology can be beneficial, it's whether it has an "opportunity cost" as you mentioned, and most don't give that a second thought. They don't even realize what we are potentially losing when we use technology as a means to an end. That end being Education.
  • Oct 25 2011: That depends on the technology involved. Teaching should be about learning how to learn in any given environment. Technology should push the boundaries of the teachers' and students' curiosities. A technology that is transparent and pushes those boundaries furthers that level of development. However, a technology that is nontransparent and requires a large learning curve will further the learning of the technology not the learning process. The experience becomes like pulling water from a tapped well.
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    Oct 25 2011: Writing was an early technology. From clay tablets humans went to writing on the skins of sheep, then on to writing on scrolls of paper, and then to the codex. Next came 'books' and (much later) with the invention of movable type, 'mass production' of books. ---- Learning is dependent on either face-to-face instruction (a coach demonstrating a 'burpee' or a golfer showing how best to swing a 7-iron) or on technologies. Books, slide shows, films, YouTube videos, magazines, and so on. Take away technology (one might consider speech one technology....) and one is back with Australopithecus. (Perhaps further back, since modern chimpanzees seem to have mastered the technology of twigs -- used to remove tasty termites from their hiding spots).

    Technology is a tool. And what tools are best adapted for the future? Without knowing the future, who can know what tools are best.... Perhaps backpackers have the answer. They carry their house, stove, food, bed, utensils, fuel and water on their backs -- and they learn about walking sticks, armadillos, spiders, pines and cedars, oaks and gum trees, red-cockaded woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, quartz, and .... oh, so much more! And while hikers learn (supported by their portable technological pack), their cohorts in town are also learning -- about Lindsay Lohan's latest brushes with the law, How To Marry A Millionaire, the price of copper, and so on.
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    Oct 25 2011: It almost reminds me of my parents’ generation saying about school buses, “Why I had to walk three miles to school: why can’t today’s students?”
    As soon as a child has discovered one or two objects of his/her passion, I think she/he should be turned loose to use the internet as best he/she can. As life progresses, passions change, but the skills increase.
    Education should help the child discover his/her passions, and I do not understand how the wisely introduced computer can hurt.
    I'm 68 and retired, but have never been as motivated, and the internet is part of the inspiration.
    My passion is to understand social issues and express possible solutions to social problems. I was just researching the Dalai Lama's interest in celebrating nine immolations.
    Since about ten years before my retirement, I have selected books on my favorite topics. To supplement by poor memory, I record ideas important to me, verbatim from the book. I also record complimentary or opposing comments I may have – argue with the author, dead or alive.
    I have read so many books on the writing of the US Constitution I am beginning to recognize what the new author is about to disclose. This repetitive process could be accelerated if I had all the books online or in files.
    I love it when a book or essay is free and digital. Then, I can file the entire work and highlight important passages and insert my arguments with a different highlight. Also, I can word search to find important ideas.
    Because of these powerful tools, I feel I am living in the best of times.
    I wonder why Chekhov, in “Rothschild’s Fiddle,” nicknamed Yakov Ivanov “Bronze.”
    Phil
  • Oct 24 2011: this isn't really even debateable. We live in an age where many people literally think that technology will be the pancea or silver bullet for all of our problems. Our over reliance on the methods we use to manipulate the physical space we all share is at an all time high and perhaps beyond the tipping point. The ancient greek word fro technology is techne which roghly translates into "the extension of the human from of body". In that sense we have lost sight of technology and use it not only ti limit our experince in education, but in virtually allother areas of our lives, from travel to cooking. the way we use technolgoy today, is coming dangerously close to threatening our concepts of freedom, autonomy, and what it mens to be human. Anyone who has ever benefited from the use of a wheel can tell you abotu the benefits of technology, its the unforsen consequences that we should have more of a focus on. Great topic! (although i feel liek theres hardly room for debate.)
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    Oct 24 2011: My opinion is that learning should be done from the bottom up. First, you learn the basics, like reading, spelling, arithmetic, etc. Then you combine basic building blocks to learn more advanced skills. For example, I never liked memorizing mathematical formulas or theorems, but simply re-derived them as needed.

    If a technology is used to automate execution of an already learned skill, it can help in putting building blocks together. The downside is that one tends to forget the learned skills, so its use needs to be balanced. Maybe then, it's best to keep computers out of the classroom, but still let students use them at home.
  • Nov 6 2011: I think they are doing a disservice to their kids. Technology is such an essential part of education and needs to be incorporated into schools from the start. Learning how to use computers to look-up information, learn typing skills, use Excel and word processing programs, and even (I think) to learn a programming language should now be part of primary school education. It is nice and fluffy to think pen and paper and having some "organic" communication is best, but it is just setting students back as everyone else is advancing with technology and preparing to enter universities and jobs reliant on computer skills.
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    Nov 6 2011: This is very easy to understand if you look at it from the right angle.

    Basically it comes down to the fact that kids need to learn basics before they get access to different technologies that circumvent the basics.

    And getting the kids through elementary school before is just the right thing to do.

    Its secondary very positive effect is that it will teach kids to value and understand the value of those new shiny toys once they get them - which otherwise they would not.
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    Nov 6 2011: actually technology enhances ur skills to go beyond a certain level ....like for eaxmple if u use excel it lets u analyse mass amt of data in a jiffy....got it
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    Nov 5 2011: That's right to some extent, it does reduce the amount of learning. I use and benefit from dozens of home appliances which make my kitchen a cosmopolitan eatery. First, I wouldn't know things I know (even with the spell checker- may be I am less inclined to learn right spellings now than ever before, but I make less mistakes now,and eventually, I learn many new things). Also I do not fully understand (all the time) even a light bulb, someone else did the job and that put an end to my resolve to find the light when its dark. Now we can do better things, or other things to say the least. Why, someone puts in whole of a life into finding something which every sitting duck can enjoy...and even have a passport to more of laziness? May be because society itself lives as one creature now, responsibilities are more shared, so are benefits.
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    Nov 3 2011: To say that technology hinders one's learning ability is true to a very minor extent. The small hindrances that technology involves do not outweigh the lessons that we are taught, and the efficiency that comes with embracing technology.

    The use of the keyboard from early age means that one's handwriting will be poor, but that only matters if handwriting eis essential to operating in society, which it isn't.

    The use of the calculator from early age means that one's arithmetic may be poor, but that only matters if mental calculations are essential to operating in society, which it isn't.

    The queston is - what needs to be learned? Certainly not handwriting or mental arithmetic. There are other aspects of education that need to be taught that are far more important than these trivial, outdated methods.

    Furthermore, the learning of these other aspects will be accelerated thanks to the use of calculators, keyboards, online news, social networking, etc.
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    Nov 3 2011: So true ,Think About Calculator.:)
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    Nov 3 2011: "Some of the leaders of Google and Silicon Valley are sending their children to schools that are bereft of technology."

    Where did you read this?

    My own feeling is that if used correctly, technology can definitely enhance learning.
    • Nov 3 2011: She read it in a New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?_r=2) that talked about the fact that many heads of Silicon Valley companies send their kids to Waldorf Schools which specifically prohibit technology in the classroom.

      We're the parents this article talks about - Silicon Valley professionals who don't let their kids use technology in the classroom. What I've found is that technology can certainly teach lessons, but those lessons are pre-determined, tightly structured, and built around someone's idea of what's appropriate for a child to learn. A computer cannot take advantage of the fact that the school chickens just hatched a brood of eggs, or talk through the physics of proper timing in kickball the way that a human being, teaching another human being can.
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    Nov 2 2011: It has been suggested that technology and the availability of information has hindered our memory's ability to learn and recall information. If I have a smart phone (which I do), why should I memorize a phone number or email when I can simply look it up. It is possible that the basis of their reasoning for not wanting to expose their children to technology would be so that they develop fundamental cognitive skills that are not hindered by the internet and its gateways. When you get down to it, it is only natural for us as humans to physically write and draw. This suggests that using technology as a medium for communication and learning has gotten in between our innate abilities of what we are adapted and use to. Perhaps overtime we will see technology truly "take root" in our minds (function over sensation) or perhaps we will just continue to lose our ability to mentally recall memories and become dependent on readily available information for our everyday lives.
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    Nov 2 2011: New technologies are distracting. People tend to focus more on technology than what it can deliver. Just like when the first encyclopedia CD went out the market. People were more amazed about how a video can be played on the computer screen than video itself.
  • Oct 31 2011: In my opinion Technology should be introduced to students at earlier age.It is an asset and it is for the benefit of our society.
    For example, My younger brother was exposed to PC in his 3rd standard whereas I got familiar with it in 6th standard.As a result the confidence level of handling PC is more in my brother from earlier age.
    So greater Technology used greater will be the benefit.
  • Oct 29 2011: Technology has its disadvantage, it will certainly cause superficial thinking,less concentration and less deep thought,but that can not be the reson to resist a fast and convenient approach to information.What we ought to do is using it,and also carefully avoiding its bad effect by our deliberate action,for instance,we can slow down to concentrate,or stop readiong while we have a thought and think about it.But it's not possible for kids to do that, so in my opinion, maybe sending kids to schools where technology is unwelcomed is not a bad idea.
  • Oct 28 2011: It really depends on how technology is harnessed and used in classroom teaching and whether they are pedagogically sound and meaningful to students' learning as well. Some technology such as online discussion forums allow students to exchange ideas, share their learning, debate on topics and these can enhance and broaden pupil's understanding of the subjects. Some technologies even allow immediate feedback to be given to students after they have submitted their work online, allow them to critique and give feedback to their classmates' work, and even engage in metacognition whereby the students record what they have read online and pupils review and listen over and again. What are the objectives in using technology in teaching and learning? Technology should add value to learning and shouldn't be used in classrooms for the sake of using it. The educational objectives shouldn't be lost in sight. The use of technology should support towards the achievement of the educational objectives and not replace the educational objectives. Ultimately at the end of the day, when technology enables the learning objectives to be achieved in a more efficient way, more effective way, children's learning would be further enhanced.
  • Oct 28 2011: yeah i totally understand that. i'm a high school teacher myself and while it's important for students to be able to sift through information to get data and draw conclusions, it's far more time consuming. textbooks have (hopefully) been written and verified for experts, contain neither too little nor too much detail and depth, and allow for a variety of follow-on tasks and activities. i could teach the students about say, the solar system, in a lesson, but letting them get on the internet and look up enough to answer a pretty standard comprehension check would take at least 3 times as long, and even longer if they were to verify everything they'd found. also if a topic is more involved, the essays that get submitted are usually skewed in whatever direction their search results happened to take them.
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    Oct 28 2011: Could it be because that's how the engineers themselves learned? I also had no computers or similar technology when I was in grade school and jr. high, so now, back in college at a late age, I find it easier to learn the old fashioned way. But most of the kids in my classes, having grown up with computers, find it easier to do things online.
  • Oct 26 2011: As I see it, technology will simply change the way we learn. I think people get lost in nostalgia, and assume that they way we did it as kids is the best way, but things change and we must accept it. If you can have knowledge at your fingertips, do we need to go through the process of learning in the way we used to? In the UK, we are closing libraries left right and centre, and some protest, but the truth is, people don't use them in significant numbers any more. I used to use them as a child, and it makes me sad that they are going, but they are the places of MY childhood, not the current generation. I am being nostalgic about the experience.

    It is certainly important to be equipped with the ability to learn and discover, and I think to delay the introduction to technology is not a bad thing - it can be hugely distracting for example - but it cannot last forever, and at some point our children will need to engage completely, or they will be left behind. I'm not sure I like it, but it is so.
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      Oct 27 2011: Stephen,

      Yes, I agree that at some point in the youth's development he/she must be exposed to and become proficient in the predominant technologies of his/her times and culture. But it is very much a matter of timing. I agree with you that delaying exposure to high technology in the earlier years is very much a good thing.

      I also agree that resistance to using high technology should be based on science, not nostalgia.
    • Nov 4 2011: Stephen,

      It's interesting that you say that in the UK they're closing libraries left, right and centre, and just yesterday BBC news had a report saying that 42% of people in the UK say that today's children are "feral." I don't think these two things are unrelated. When you went to the library, there was a standard of behavior expected, and you went there to perhaps research something for school or to find a quiet afternoon's diversion.

      Today, governments are increasingly chucking people out on their own, leaving them to find other places to do their research or find their entertainment. Government figures that you can look things up on the internet or buy a book from Amazon, so you don't need an expensive public library. Except that those kids who can't afford a computer of their own, let alone spend precious money on book for entertainment, are left to their own devices.

      I think it's a mistake to close the libraries, and to lower our standards.
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    Oct 25 2011: Most discussions of education -- including this one -- do not focus on input/output. In plain English, what kind of 22-year old are you trying to make when he/she is inducted into the educational system at age five (or before). Discussing what technologies are appropriate for kids puts the cart before the horse inasmuch as "If you don't know where you're going, all roads lead there."

    That said, perhaps just throwing kids into a chaotic and unplanned curriculum -- a hodge-podge of new, old, or minimal technologies -- prepares them for life in a chaotic and unplanned world. Not every child who is to become an accountant needs to know how to write a coherent sentence. To master the intricacies of C++ one does not need to know how to speak Spanish. And so on and so on.... Perhaps kids will simply have to become specialized cogs, learn that their skills don't match what they need, go out and educate themselves, and stumble through life as best they can.

    Just like those of us over 22 years of age.
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      Oct 26 2011: You raised a good point. We, as parents or teachers, need to find out what we want to make our kids with all the "education". I assume that most are focused on "success" and fewer on "happiness". And to become "successful" one tend to believe that more technological exposure is better. There are at least few people who believe that advancement and/or easier accessibility of technology making the dominance of mediocrity more wide spread and killing the the ability for innovation and invention.
      The other point many like to put forward is- the most creative ideas come from nature and (many) technologies are becoming more like addiction than just a tool which help distancing kids, young teens, away from nature. Dragon fly and humming bird inspired new flying technologies more than studying/using (flying) machines (invention of helicopter or on-going development of aircraft that can hover or even fly backwards).
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    Si Xie

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    Oct 25 2011: Yeah..I think I am adapting to typing sentence rather than writing by hand. Since there are so many advance technology that can replace our habit like taking note on a paper book, these tools are well organized with friendly interface, it certainly provides more convenience to our workplace and study, but there are some side-effect, for instance, most of the write have grammar or spell check for your writing, students may not put extra effort on vocabulary since there are machine helping you to do it correctly. What's more, students may simply copy the information or ideas from the internet especially from blogs.

    Besides the influence on the learning skills, the emphasis on technology may also impact the development of creativity. First is about how to generate the ideas: most of the arguments suggest that we can develop our creativity or generate ideas by collecting ideas and be prolific. Technology can provide a platform for you to store information from your own, on the other hand, internet, like I mentioned before, have lots of other information there, which may have negative effects on children's creativity.

    But apparently, technology can enhance our learning experience in some degree. Like some multi-media can make our study be more interesting and easily understand.
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    Oct 25 2011: I also believe that an oversuage of technology is counterproductive. Nonetheless, I think it is a fundamental tool for kids to improve their learning skills. My nephew is just one year old and you wouldn't believe all the things he can do in a computer. He definitely is developing his brain in a faster way.
    We create new technologies to make our lives better, not the contrary. I just think that a computer must be complementary to more traditional forms of education. We shouldn't be dependent on it.
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    Oct 25 2011: MYTH that I heard, when printing technology was discovered many thought people will forget learning how to write and also to memorize....did that happen ?
    Same here.
    Don't people need to learn use of technology before using technology ?
    It gives more option more freedom to learn that's what I see in it.
    • Nov 4 2011: Well, It is not merely a myth.
      Don't know how much we differ in age, I also don't know the standards concerned to affect this topic, while I'm living in some country (the former country Frisia/Friesland in the Netherlands) claiming to be developped (more a matter of opinion I suppose) I see a dramatic decline in general knowledge, real problem solving and also a lack of interest towards al sorts of things, situations, background information and so on. The degeneration of writing is also occring.
      ..
      But, it's something what always happens I guess, when complete systems/values become obsolete. stupidity is in the eye of the beholder.
      • Nov 4 2011: Well, I agree to much of what you say h13k. But, feel we could elaborate and exchange much more about this trend. I am 26, living in the western point of TX. I might differ from the usual I observe in others on this decline. I feel technology should ideally only increase the learning potentials and allow much more open sharing of known knowledge. If one is tech inclined enough, they can glean most any published document off of a server somewhere. This is a beautiful aspect of our integrating technology. But conversely, I have noticed the most apparent negative aspects in many of my generations spoken language. With their technology able to answer their query so easily, they seem to no longer feel the need to commit many simple things to accessible memory. The reading of actual books is being wiped out, which I cannot forgive. The e reader serves a beautiful purpose, yes, but again should only supplement tangible books. Many of these lacks in general knowledge, problem solving, and even the interest comment. I feel are not only a generation difference. But a byproduct of our constantly expanding technology. I've read much research into brain and cognition, since I myself sustained a severe TBI. And the stimulus that many of these newer technology provides to adolescents, vastly surpasses what quiet introspection or reading can achieve. Look at the incidence of ADHD, and the over medicated generations of children on drugs to deal with it. I feel ADHD is a direct consequence of this over stimulation of children before they are into a more developed frontal lobe. We are becoming a culture that expects instant gratification on all levels, even those of life achievements and the romantic realms. Patience is dwindling, why get my bachelors degree, when I could just get Ass. degree and work already. Why spend 5 dates of genuinely connecting with a potential mate when I can easily get the physical element from a dating site. I feel we haven't been fully responsible w tech.
      • Nov 4 2011: I was given a paper on whether or not there has been progress in the past 1000 years of human history, and technology became my focal point. It without doubt has helped the delivery of foods, and services throughout the world. Technology has increased the lifespan of people by simple preventative maintenance of common diseases. It eradicated many former diseases. But look at how it is applied in other contexts. The greatest hallmark of physics in the previous few generations was the splitting of the atom. But applied to further political agendas, and wage war over resources and land mass. Cosmetic surgery, which could be applied to a child with horrible birth defect. Often becomes a tool of narcissism in the hands of the affluent. Breast implants, tummy tucks, lipo, new noses, cheek bone enhancements. How has the fresh water problem not been solved in the 20th or this past decade? Instead people drink from plastic water bottles, which now collect in huge clumps of the ocean, releasing toxic carcinogens when exposed to severe temperature extremes. Why are our medical fields generating billions prescribing drugs, whose results could be achieved by dietary changes and regular exercise. People work themselves into stress dominated lives, at middle pay grade jobs. Creating further psychological and health problems. College, which should be a given part of the American Dream. Now you either work 2 jobs and attend school, which leaves so tired and sacrifices your ability to fully focus on education. Or you take out loans, which have interest rates that will take years to pay off, even once you have found financial independence. The disparity only grows in our country. The poor make the rich wealthy by their toil, the rich allow their children to never struggle. Our collective attention is drawn to celebrity worship, and this scandalous television which only grows in popularity. Like reality TV, which only shows the worst of human capacity. We're losing our faith as well
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          Nov 5 2011: Clint your claims are right...the barbarians has come...and the dark age also.....the vulgarity is everywhere and the real divulgation of the best part of us are hidden in the new monasterys with the new monks. Have you read William Irving Thompson?

          http://www.williamirwinthompson.org/
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    Oct 25 2011: I think there is a way to use technology to benefit our education system. The hard nosed way of learning by sticking your nose in a book is still valuable and extremely beneficial.
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      Oct 27 2011: It's a new york times article, the one Peter Han mentioned! He linked it.
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    Oct 25 2011: I believe that educational reform will rely heavily on technology. However, I see technology as a tool for liberating learning from the four walls of the classroom and taking students to their new classroom - the world - both in real time and virtually.
  • Oct 24 2011: From both my experiences and what I've read on the topic, there are generally a lot of mixed feelings on using technology to learn. The biggest cause for alarm I've both read about and noticed in myself as a student is that as my use of technology increases, my ability to recall information without the technology decreases. It is as if I have been conditioned to expect the information I need to be available, rather than being something I've truly 'learned' and could recall on command if needed. This isn't necessarily true of everything, and is definitely more true of some school subjects than others.

    It makes a lot of sense though, to me, that this would be true. To say otherwise would suggest that environment doesn't affect behavior, or more specifically that one's method of learning would somehow not impact what, exactly, one learns.
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    Oct 24 2011: Thanks for starting this excellent discussion (Thumbs up).
    I think that over emphasis on technology, giving a kid a computer with excellent 3D graphics to teach him/her the basics of science is not so helpful, if not counter productive. An experiment in a school in Japan also indicated that way.
    Imagination and ability to think "out-of box" seem to develop at an early stage of life. If young students and children are spoon fed with glucose form of "knowledge" (or data) then there is less chance for them to become "wise" later, to develop the ability to use information and data in a constructive, meaningful way to solve real world problems. "Education" is not simply feeding information/data or "knowledge". Many may have excellent database type information but few become "knowledgeable" and fewer become "wise"! That's one of the reasons I do not favor quiz competitions among kids either. It encourages rot memorization and build database type, (mostly) useless information without much benefit for young teens. No new information is helpful unless it is linked to already acquired knowledge. Quizzes mostly do not do that.

    Performing routine technical jobs (technician job), carrying out orders (followers), following pre-set patterns (like playing/winning video games) etc may be befitted (by such tools or technology), but it does not seem to help to develop leadership quality or becoming a "scientist" or even a technocrat.