“Human hard drives, archival devices?”
As I see persons clamor to get technological devices into every sphere of life, I have to wonder, how does the brain benefit? When I use all this technology am I retaining information? Reasonably, the tools are a means to an end. Call me old fashioned. I still believe in rote learning. The reason I have anything in my cranium is that I learnt much of it “by heart”. I know, I know, these new methods of learning want us to figure things out and I am all for critical thinking but I realized that I had better have knowledge on the topic first before I try to work at producing a rational response.
Now seriously, is the technology causing my child (or me, a lifelong learner) to be mentally lazy in learning? What does a modern day child know all on his own? If he gets into a critical situation without his gadgets, will he still be able to function? Will he know anything?
Let us say I have this body of facts. I need them to stick. We know that the strategies, structures, techniques and methodologies allow us the means for synthesizing information. Non-linear learning within some of these technologies can allow students to meaningfully identify and collate information so it can be utilized. However, it is not a guarantee that a learner will examine all areas of the technology to learn all the facts. They may choose not to be bothered. For example, suppose there are different elements of a game for a learning app. A student may get points for learning but they can learn at their own pace. There may be certain content in the app that remains unexplored at the next level. Learning challenges in such an app will need to be structured so learners cannot pass a certain level without knowing all vital information for the next level. At least it should be able to redirect them to review that information before moving on. Designers of the new technology will need to factor these things into their products if they are not already doing so.
Amazon and other such companies are making hard copies of books obsolete. Will these new technological advances also make our brains obsolete? I should think not. I began to consider that we have been using secondary storage devices to back up our brain power. Will we give our devices that much power that we store everything necessary on them? Will our brains then become the new archive storage media? Will we put them online only when necessary?
“Reps” make Muscles Rip
The experts have all kinds of mind enhancement methodology. One sure way to remember facts is by repetition. Gym instructors use it. Not just two times but 50, 100 times. Sports players run laps and laps around fields. What if we did some kind of computerized mental reps with vital information? What if we could have technology that will allow students to flex their mental muscles by repeating valuable information? How effective would that be? I believe it would be a start. Ignorance of vital data especially in a critical situation cannot be tolerated. The consequences might be detrimental.
How can Students Retain More?
- To retain more as we get older it is possible that we have to be immersed in everything that had to do with the completion of a task. There are tools that utilize regular smart phones to alert persons via text messages of upcoming deadlines. They then have to make a response. They have to be responsible for their learning.
- Better analysis of learners can assist with identifying students problem areas. With different apps with appropriate analytics, students can be better assessed. For a teacher who may have a class of 30-40 students and have to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each one, it can be a task. At least one teacher I know records every score on every question for each major test in Excel. After all that, there is sometimes no time to analyze students individually. With emerging technology, that can be alleviated. The tool can do the scoring right away.
- When learners receive prompt feedback on different aspects of their learning, they can begin to make modifications. Through text messaging again, communication can be made between student and teacher.
Check out some tools that have been used for student retention.