postheadericon Distractify.

Aptly named.

The readings this week are in line with arguments I have with myself and others fairly regularly.

I’ve already put a lot of this in comments on other posts, so instead of rehashing I’ll summarize.

I’m not an early adopter. I do not want/need the shiny new tech toy the moment it comes out. In the intro to the Thompson article, chess grand master Kasparov’s bout with IBM’s Deep Blue and his comments afterward are not new to me, but have always resonated. “I lost my fighting spirit.” Human intuition, critical thinking, experience, be damned, a blunt object bluntly blunting its way through millions and millions of preprogrammed scenarios leaves anticipatory analysis on the cutting room floor.

Then, Kasparov creatively collaborates with the machine, with interesting results. Chess amateurs with strong computer skills beat grand masters with middling computer skills. Ultimately, Kasparov and the author decide that skillful human/machine collaboration is better than the two elements on their own, in the context of chess. But Kasparov, before he collaborated with the machine, had a lifetime of critical thinking, masterful control of logic and analysis, and experience. The two “amateurs” still had significant (in the world of amateurs, at least) chess ratings on their own, and presumably some sort of critical thinking background. That was 17 years ago. Now everyone with an Internet connection can collaborate with machines, at any age, with any cognitive ability.

Ultimately, the author concludes this collaboration isn’t good or bad, it’s just different. That evolved different is something to which we must all adjust, or be left behind by the ones that do. I do not see machinery itself as good or bad, or Google unuseful in education or any other context. I teach a class where a piece of Googled information will do them no good. I see students collaborating with their devices with the supposition that said collaboration will provide the answer for receiving a good grade. When they use that information in class with negative results, they are dumbfounded, and that, I suppose, is what bothers me.

ADDENDUM:

Oh, and there’s this:

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34671952

Not the primary source, of course, but a news story on research out of Stanford and University of Washington that discovered online classes do not stack up against traditional classes performance-wise. Clarity: I have not pored through the data, just thought the story interesting/relevant. Take it for what it is.

5 Responses to “Distractify.”

  • kspooner:

    I think we have this tendency to want to define things in terms of good and bad, positive and negative. It probably has something to do with all the compare and contrast assignments we had to do as a child. (You know, complete this venn diagram and compare the villain to the hero of the story.) We are so use to defining things by whether they are good or bad for us that we don’t know how to handle something that just is; it simply exists. It becomes a question of how we use this technology, which I think can make a few people uncomfortable because it puts the responsibility in their own hands and we don’t always know how to handle taking responsibility. So, when it comes to collaborating on something, we don’t know how to see it is a neutral ground that our behaviors towards and on this neutral ground defines whether it is good or bad, positive or negative.

  • Krystalyn Morton:

    I liked the point that you made about student interacting with their devices and being shocked when they do not get a necessarily positive result from utilizing theses technologies. I think that they root of the issue here is that students in modern day are not necessarily taught how to use these devices. It is almost assumed that since they grew up using them, they know how to use them productively; which is not the case. I grew up in the generation that straddled the implementation of technology into everyday life, so I can remember when conducting research actually required going to the library and Google was not always at the tip of my finger. In contrast, some of our students know nothing other than academia through the lens of a laptop (exaggeration, but I’m sure you understand what I mean). While these students are able the utilize these technologies, they are almost too dependent to the point that they don’t know how to function without them.

  • akin01:

    In the same vein with what Krystalyn said above, It is more important to know what to do with information that to have the information itself. Anyone can google anything but most students don’t know how to go about verifying the accuracy of this information. It could also be due to an attitude of believing everything on the internet.

  • Najla:

    Yes, and in the same vein too, I think that it is very important encourage in our students the development of a kind of “filter” – a internal mechanism that uses critical thinking and a sense of ownership of their own thought process in order to filter the flux of information. This will guide them to find and build their own way in searching, selecting and learning information. This will also enable them to make new connections and develop ideas of their own authorship.
    Thanks for the post and comments!

  • James:

    As with all tools, the way we use them is what makes the most impact. Any cutting edge technology can be great or a paper weight depending on its use. Information access like you all are talking about is great. I think ,as I mentioned in my post, that being critical consumers of that information is what will lead to the success of those who can adapt to new technologies.

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