Friday, May 27, 2011

How do we learn?

I'm in the business of techno-fying learning. Aren't we all? E-learning, M-learning, online learning, digital learning..... it's all about making learning cool and accessible. Students learn better when we add technology, or so the theory goes. And there are a lot of bells and whistles to sprinkle through our courses and teaching these days, most of which assist in the dissemination of information. The list includes social media, podcasts, video-conferencing, flash interactions, games, audio supplements, Youtube, iPad technology, quizzes for your mobile phone, e-books, learning management systems, chat rooms, presentation authoring tools....just to name a few.

A walk through my campus study hall during the semester would suggest that we are on the right track with all this technology. Every student is sitting in front of a laptop, iPad, or cell phone. It seems that if you want students to learn, you need to speak their language, and that language is digital.

But this is only the surface impression. The week before exams painted a very different picture. When crunch time arrived and everyone was madly trying to 'learn', the laptops disappeared. Technology took on a very retro form - the highlighter. I saw only paper modules, study guides, scribbles down the margin and fluorescent highlights. Apparently, when it comes to learning, things haven't changed at all.

The question that often gets lost in all the glamor of technology is, "How do we best learn?" And I'll leave that for another post.

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