Studying humans is a hard thing to do. We are not a discrete lump of information, and we don’t pattern very well. Most of the mis-guided assumptions of past ideologies about how science can tame the wildness of anthropological study are just that: wrong guesses. But that being said, we still try to discover what truths we can find in the morass of data that is ever growing in various Excel sheets of the world. My peremptory point is this: science is limited in what it can tell us about education.
But…many are looking at whether the leap to electronic media is helping or hindering the pursuit of educational excellence. Read this overview from the Business Insider and then consider my few “off the cuff” considerations of the issue of whether screens or pages are better.
Meditations on the Surface of the Issue:
- The media are different – ink on paper is not the same as light on screens.
- A potential impact on these author’s study could be that by studying college students, they are still studying students who learned to read on paper and moved to a screen after acquiring their reading skills. Not sure if their findings hold years from now when screen reading is all that has been done. That does not dismiss everything, it just makes me wonder how much is incidental and how much is necessary.
- There is probably a connection between reading speed and reading comprehension, so the fact that online is faster would lead me to the conclusion that it was less comprehending. The key here is not necessarily to change media, but to slow down.
- How much of this discussion is a matter of taste, or a discussion of the familiar vs the new rather than a real substantive discussion of benefits compared?
- The “digital revolution” is over, we just have to figure out how to live with it. I am not seriously considering trying to promote a counter-revolution, but all such paradigm shifts include unintended consequences that usually impact front line folks way more than those who implemented the shift, such as teachers in the classroom figuring out how to “use” an ipad to promote learning.