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Your Nostalgia Isn’t Helping Me Learn — The Synapse — Medium
[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:fe14a9668c31 ]

"These stories keep popping up, recycling the same studies and confirming someone’s intuition that the “good old-fashioned way” is better.

But contrary to these claims, I would not have made it through my years of university courses without the technology I use every day. And I don’t mean specific “assistive technology” designed with “disabilities” in mind. I’m talking here about the notes I make on my phone when I’m chatting with someone, which serve as an extension of my brain — the course project documents, folders of articles, collected syllabi, images, screenshots, and more that are always available on my laptop or anywhere through my synchronized folders.

I rely on the over 170 notebooks in Evernote where I practically wrote my entire MA thesis and where I track all current projects, personal and academic. I worked a full time job for much of my undergraduate education and part of my MA and was able to do this because of the ability to search through all 70,000+ email messages from the last 15 years, the ability to search inside a journal article, search a PDF of a book and copy/paste the text. This technology is assistive for me as a student very simply because all technology is assistive technology.



“Research Shows”

Surely we can agree then that all technology is assistive. But what about in the classroom? What’s missing from these popular articles when they claim technology is a distraction in the classroom? How do they conclude assistive technology is getting in the way of learning when so many students like myself rely on it? And what are the consequences of banning technology in the classroom?

I’ll start by taking that article from Vox and looking at some of the claims. After that, I’ll look at what’s happening in classrooms where technology is banned.

I. The Vox article defines learning as remembering information. That’s funny, because learning is not memorizing, and I think all educators would agree on that.

At the same time that many educators will tell us testing misses the mark in evaluating students and that learning isn’t about facts and figures but about critical thinking skills, articles like this are shared widely with the opposite message: learning is your “ability to remember information.” But it isn’t, it’s your ability to synthesize information, think critically, and evaluate claims.

II. This article claims the problem with taking notes on laptops is that students “usually just mindlessly type everything a professor says.” But this isn’t actually a claim about taking notes on laptops vs. paper notebooks, this is an issue of note taking skills. I wouldn’t conflate the Vox article with the study it cites here, but on this point what Vox reports matches the abstract of the study quite well. I don’t agree, instead I’d suggest that if you have good note taking skills you can take good notes in any format.

If you are taught to discern what matters in a lecture or discussion or while reading, you can learn to take useful notes about anything in any format. This problem they bring up of students acting as stenographers is an issues of learning to learn, learning to think critically and yes these are skills that students need. The fact that they don’t have them certainly isn’t the fault of laptops, in fact we should be grateful that we can see they don’t have them by how they are (mis)using the laptops. As educators do we really like the idea that students can only decide what matters because “they can’t write fast enough to get everything down”?

III. The article says students who use laptops “have something unrelated to class” on the screen about 40% of the time. So…. they’re actually talking about a failure to “learn” among students who aren’t using the technology to engage in the class at all? These students are chatting with friends, shopping, doing whatever. So, what does this have to do with the technology or taking notes on a laptop? What does this have to do with using a laptop to learn? Nothing. But still, we get this summary “Research shows students who use laptops perform more poorly in classes.”

IV. Of course, the whole argument is all summed up as common sense, validated by science! What could go wrong with that and with popular reporting about it? If science AND common sense are clear on this — well, it must be true for all students, or maybe not? It certainly isn’t true for me or for other students I’ve seen and spoken with.

I’m picking on this Vox article because it is precisely this kind of article that is shared on Facebook and Twitter and through email lists, without being carefully read, without being critically analyzed. And it winds up standing in for well thought out technology policy and pedagogy in classrooms. I think it’s pretty ironic that the same people who get so excited about the article’s title (“Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop”) because it validates their pre-existing distrust of “technology” (i.e. everything invented after they were born), these same people then fail to think critically about the argument in the article. Hmmm…. Maybe they’re actually the ones who have trouble thinking critically when using a laptop?"



"Classrooms on the Anti-Tech Bandwagon

I’m now seeing Professors jumping on this bandwagon and proudly banning technology in the classroom. And even those who don’t are giving students lectures in class about how we should ban e-books at the university library, and telling students who use laptops in class they should really be writing in a notebook, that is, if they really want to learn… Faculty are even adding notes to their syllabi …"



"The pressure to use “real books” and write in a notebook (preferably a moleskine, right?) has emerged as part of a growing anti-technology fetish among academics, and popular culture broadly. I get the appeal and I love books! I would love it if I could do that, I want all paper books, a room full of them, with ferns and armchairs and whisky and whatever — but it just isn’t how I learn. And it’s expensive, and you have to move them around. And you can’t search in them in the same way. The more precarious academic lives become the more a book collection is a luxury many can’t afford in terms of cost and other factors.

For students like me, technology use in the classroom comes down to a question of how we learn. I need to be able to search a book, copy and paste passages. I’m a scholar because I have technology that allows me to organize, sort, and synthesize information that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to work with. I didn’t learn to be a scholar with paper and pen, or with a typewriter. And I wouldn’t have been able to make it through my degree programs, and excel at my studies, write a thesis, publish papers — without being able to use this technology. I, and many students out there like me, rely on laptops, tablets, phones, and online software in the classroom because it is all assistive technology."
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing  sarahendren  commonsense 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Oman-Reagan on Twitter: "In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism https://t.co/q49L9TfetU http://t.co/3gfwk5Db48"
[Update: This has now been expanded into an article: https://medium.com/synapse/your-nostalgia-isn-t-helping-me-learn-141bd0939153 ]

"In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578393387667206145 "

[In response to “To Remember More, Take Notes by Hand — Not on a Laptop: http://bit.ly/1AHy97v pic.twitter.com/0qewhIKsAU
https://twitter.com/calestous/status/578390475217973249 ” ]

"Or not, depending on how you learn, think, act, what media you're engaging with, etc. @calestous @SallieHanAnthro"
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578393387667206145

"While we're on it - let's look at what's going on in this article about taking notes in writing vs typing: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578396742758084609

"First: They define learning as remembering information. Huh? Learning =/= memorizing. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/GSJs0llaN5 "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578397319701348352

"Second: They aren't talking abt laptops vs notebooks, they're talking abt note taking skills. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/RjrF01IBdF "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578397705476665345

"Third: They're talking abt students who aren't using tech to be engaged in the class at all. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/1QOfoHORIs "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578398374866628608

"And finally, of course, it's common sense, validated by science. What could go wrong... http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/VbvJHdoKqi "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578398820377186304

"Of course what's wrong is they are ignoring fact that the tech is assistive for students who know how to use it. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578399129073774592

"So the key is to teach people how to use the tech. Not use those who take useless notes and shop as excuse. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578399523581620224
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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