Monthly Archives: August 2011

Do We Need Technology to Learn (and Can We Live Without It)?

After compiling research results from a number of studies, OnlineEducation.net concludes that “college students are addicted to technology.”  Well, isn’t that a shocker. What I found more interesting, and less obvious, about their report is that students claim to need technology for learning! 

Do we need technology for learning?
That student grades reportedly improve when Twitter is used in the classroom seems to support the technology-learning link. But is it just that students get excited about being “allowed” to use Twitter in class, and will the interest in using it diminish when Twitter use becomes standard? Or is there really some magical link between technology use in the classroom and student learning?
I tend to see the relationship between technology and learning as both a blessing and a curse. As a recent grad school graduate, I know that social media served as an excellent tool for avoiding getting down to serious business with my studies. This was a problem for me. At the same time, as a distance ed student in my program, without technology, and specifically without the ability to access library resources online, I could not have done the required work. I COULD NOT HAVE DONE THE REQUIRED WORK. Yes, I needed technology to learn.
Smarter searching?
The report also indicated that students spend an awful lot of time searching using technology. When I first saw the statistic, I was overjoyed! “Students are spending more than 2 hours every day researching!” I thought. Then I realized that this probably wasn’t actually what “searching” means. It does make me wonder, though, whether students are spending so much time searching because they are just really curious about the world, or if it’s that they aren’t very efficient searchers. I think it’s the latter, but I invite you to share your opinions if you disagree!
If I’m right, though, then our students need to know that there is a group of trained search experts in the library at Central Penn who would LOVE to share the tricks of the trade! (Students, just imagine all the extra time you would have for texting, facebook, email, and other social media activities if you learned how to search smarter and faster!)

 

Thoughts on Abstinence.
OnlineEducation.net reports that, in a University of Maryland study, many students who participated by not using social media for 24 hours “experienced symptoms similar to drug and alcohol withdrawal.” THAT is startling! And it brings up a whole slew of questions, like whether social media use might have some of the same affects on the human brain as drugs or alcohol.
Last year Harrisburg University of Science and Technology conducted an experiment wherein students, staff, and faculty voluntarily abstained from using social media for an entire week. Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that we should try to replicate what HU did (I’m pretty sure we’d all lose our minds!). But I do wonder whether we could make it for 24 hours. I’m not sure that I could. How about you?