Thursday, June 5, 2008

wired or re-wired?

Reading Thomas's blog again. 'digital natives' is wide open for critiquing but here are some of my thoughts about the implications:
1. We falsely assume that all kids are 'digital natives', disenfranchising those who are 'not fussed on computers' or socio-economically disadvantaged.
2. We, echoing Biggs concerns about 'surfing' and the unfortunate connotations with a 'surface approach' to learning, encourage the thought that being a 'digital native' is somehow in advance of/better than being erudite.

But what I need to know more about is whether the net is promoting evolutionary change to the way that learners' brains are wired and whether these changes are beneficial or cast too much embrained knowledge aside such that 'healthy' living in the non-virtual world is undermined. An example, related to Perkins' 'person plus/person solo' stuff, would be our recently purchasing a satnav. Does the de-skilling around mapreading matter? Do we gain more (in time saved, serenity, not having to get embarrased by stopping and asking, not crashing while trying to perch map on steering wheel, not driving into the congestion zone by mistake, etc.) than we lose from our brains through not having that mental exertion. Does this mean I will become so mentally flabby that I will have to choose to take up mental jogging? Will it free up my mind to become very focussed on my work or interests such that my focus actually narrows too much?

Biggs, J.B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university. Open University Press/Society for Research into Higher Education. (Second edition), Buckingham

Perkins, D. (1993) "Person-plus: a distributed view of thinking and learning," in Distributed
Cognitions, G. Salomon ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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