“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Or “Are We Dumbing Our Online Learners?”

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“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

Or my related question is, “are we
dumbing our online learners?”

Nick Carr

This is a MUST reading if you are into e-Learning, web-based training or any technology- assisted work.

I had to PRINT the entire article because the article requires contemplation and reflection.

Scholars examined computer logs documenting the behavior of visitors to two popular research sites, one operated by the British Library and one by a U.K. educational consortium, that provide access to journal articles, e-books, and other sources of written information. They found that people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it.

Nicholas Carr provokes and challenges many of us to “rethink” the impacts of technologies in our work, learning and how we think and read. While I was reading Carr’s article, I contemplated on:

1. What happens to learning when learners skim and scan the content?

2. What happens to learning in SecondLife and social networking?

3. What are the impacts to the learners in our quest for rapid e-Learning, micro-learning, games and simulation?

He raises some good points, but is the tool (Google) really at fault? Or does the tool magnify an existing human behavior? One thing I agree with Carr is that, I too have problems focusing on doing things or learning when I skim and jump all over the place. I have a need to reflect, ponder, and apply the ideas in my context.

I will dare not synthesize Carr’s five-page article. It is for your enjoyment or disdain. However, REFLECT.

Carr writes elegantly and successfully weaved a historical perspective of “technologies impacts on human behavior, thinking and learning.”

Two interesting counter reactions:

From the Blog of Blaise Alleyne

“Twitter doesn’t make people stupid.

Nor do Google, Wikipedia or anything else. People are just stupid irrespective of technology. Myself included. I don’t do stupid things because of technology, I do stupid things because sometimes I do stupid things. We may see stupidity manifested in different ways on different mediums, but I have a hard time believing that the medium is to blame.”

More comment –

“I don’t view it as necessarily good or bad – but I do feel it is the beginning of a fundamental shift in culture. Being able to engage with a book, or a conversation, or a lecture or watch a meteor shower are things that leave us with ideas that can lead us to new concepts, artwork, design, data structures, programming… Click click click culture of endless link following and mindless browsing leaves thoughts fleeting and dashing off, half-finished before we can really grasp what it is that we are thinking – this has been a long time coming, widely available broadband net access has just spread up the process for a lot of people.”

Savor the reading!

Related articles:

Circling the Wagons Against Nick Carr – Arguments and praises for Nick Carr

Neil Postman – my hero, who believed we entertain ourselves too much with media

Some of my related thoughts:

“The Outsourced Brain”

“If You Believe in Computers Too Much, You Lose Touch with Reality.” — “Joseph Weizenbaum: An Appreciation” – Inventor of Eliza

Information Overload, Interruptions in Flow – Reduce Productivity

Ray Jimenez, PhD www.vignettestraining.com

“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”