A digital world is not a dumber world

Digital technology (DT) has revolutionized learning environments in higher education with multiple resources that are easily accessible and relatively easy to implement. DT likely improves the amount of knowledge or skills that a student acquires, as well as, it might keep engagement of the students in the classroom. Yet, just by adopting DT in the classroom doesn’t guarantee that the outcome of the educational process is going to be effective.  Professors should consider the course learning objectives and reflect on the usefulness of DT tools to achieve those objectives. Education should not be determined by technology, but DT is part of the environment and we need to make the best use those tools to shape competent and critical professionals for the current needs in society. In fact, some of those needs are related to professionals being able to thrive in diverse environments. Thus, using many educational tools including the traditional techniques could assure that we are preparing capable individuals to be able to respond under different work-relate scenarios.

Multi-tasking and DT etiquette remains a challenge that professors and students face in a DT classroom. There is evidence that students engaged in multi-tasking such as attending to a lecture while simultaneously checking social media and other websites can decrease the learning performance of students (Wood et al. 2012).

Finally, DT might be changing our mental process compared to those thought processes developed by using non-digital educational tools. This doesn’t mean that we are becoming dumber, instead it means that we are shifting our mind to improve our abilities to perform in a digital world. These abilities might not be the same as the ones developed by non-digital tools, but they are promoting decision making and mental processes that are developing critical thinkers for a different era.vintagesocial

 

Wood, E., Zivcakova, L., Gentile, P., Archer, K., De Pasquale, D., Nosko, A. 2012. Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning. Computers & Education 58: 365-374.

12 thoughts on “A digital world is not a dumber world”

  1. I have a very love/hate relationship with technology, especially in the classroom. On one hand, I think it’s useful, can be cool, and that usefulness/coolness may prompt a student to complete a task or challenge or objective that student may otherwise not do. On the other it’s one big, connected distraction filled with easily accessible, completely irrelevant … stuff (I can’t even call it “information” … when class participation is replaced with overt cellphone candy crush it’s kind of hard to). I want to disallow irrelevant tech, or limit tech to class or course-related activities, but at this point that’s pretty unrealistic. I suppose it’s adapt or die.

  2. Thanks for the post, Bernardo. I strongly agree with the fact that technology isn’t necessarily making us dumber — it’s changing the skill set that we need to acquire to be successful. It is definitely a question of adapting to the changing times, including preserving and protecting the traditional learning practices that can complement digital learning

  3. “Yet, just by adopting DT in the classroom doesn’t guarantee that the outcome of the educational process is going to be effective. Professors should consider the course learning objectives and reflect on the usefulness of DT tools to achieve those objectives.”
    Yes! I love this! Technology as a tool – use it when it’s helpful, don’t when it’s not…

  4. Hi Bernardo,

    I agree with you that managing and learning all those new technological tools requires a good amount of skills. And they can really help with learning. But sometimes it feels as if not using any of that technology in the classroom is a no-no nowadays. Some of best learning experiences have been in classes where all technology was a chalk board, a transparency projector and a piece of paper. As Aritra mentioned above, we need to ne able to preserve what is worth of the “traditional” teaching tools in combination with what it is worth (not everything will be) of the new ones.

  5. Thanks, Bernardo, it is a great post! I like specially when you said that we need to make the best use of technology tools to “shape competent and critical professionals for the current needs in society”. I completely agree with your idea that “we are shifting our mind to improve our abilities to perform in a digital world” and that it is fundamental that we work to develop “critical thinkers for a different era”.
    This is way better than be sorry for the past and thinking about what we have lost with the change. Ok, it is great to reflect about what remains essential regardless the resources we have, but I think we should do this looking into the present and toward the future.

  6. I think that is a great graphic that you included! Agreed, we are not getting dumber but maybe smarter in the ways that we can adapt to these it’s. I think that it is our imperative as educators to help our students realize that there is more information that is useful than what can be found in the first 3 google hits. Usually the 4th on google scholar settles it for me :). With anything, it seems obvious that the rewards reaped will correlate to the efforts put into the adoption of the DT classroom.

  7. wow. i like ur post. I love the part about multi-tasking and digital technology etiquette remaing a challenge between professors and students in the classroom. I totally agree, as a TA i don’t think many students have that etiquette at all.

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  9. Yess, Does that mean the current generation in the presence of DT does not become stupid? But we can access more info, and are relevant and more critical of an issue because DT makes the world unlimited

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