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Pearson Platforms / Blog / 2011 / 4

If Technology is Making Us Stupid, How Can We Get Smart?

by Pearson Learning Solutions

In the 2008 article, Google is Making us Stupid, Nicholas Carr explains how new technology is transforming our brains into fast-thinking, multi-tasking, computer-like machines taking bits of information from various media sources. According to Carr, those whose brains have been massacred by Google, Blackberry and iPhones lack the ability to concentrate on a deep level or to think critically. When was the last time you sat down and read a book for, lets say, an hour, without checking your cell phone? Many students (myself included) would say: not in the past five years!

So, if technology is  in fact making us stupid, how can we "get smart"? Carr discusses how our recent inability to pay attention is the culprit of our demise. While new technology has provided us with various opportunities to connect and communicate, it should also be taken with caution. What steps must students and teachers take to revert back to an age of contemplation and reflection?

1. Require students to use HARD sources. Things like scholarly articles, literature reviews, or books (even just excerpts) force students to pay attention to the content of the reading and think critically about how that content may apply to class.

2. Be a Catalyst for Critical thinking. In one of my classes, we are assigned difficult readings followed by a "quiz" every class. The quizzes consist of questions that test our ability to understand the content and force us to apply the content to what we are discussing.

3. Encourage reflection time. Take some time in class to allow students to write freely. Free writing is a great exercise which clears the mind of useless clutter that our computers and phones create.

Innovations in technology will inevitably change the way we think and learn. It is important to recognize the changes occurring around us so that we may adapt accordingly and continue to teach and learn to our fullest potential.