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Higher Ed in the News

Writer questions the wisdom of teaching with technology

July 12, 2010

Nicholas Carr, a 51-year-old Colorado-based writer, argues that there is strong evidence that the way we take in information online or through digital media impedes understanding, comprehension, and learning.

Carr has published a new book, The Shallows, which warns the Internet is rewiring our brains and short-circuiting our ability to think.

Divides our attention

According to Carr, evidence suggests is that, unless it's very carefully planned with an eye to how the brain processes information, multimedia actually impedes learning rather than enhances it, simply because it divides our attention. Studies show that when our attention is divided, it becomes much more difficult to transfer information from our short-term memory, which is just the very temporary store, to our long-term memory, which is the seat of understanding.

Carr states that "smart classrooms" would be beneficial in certain circumstances, but actually undermine the mission of the class in others. He refers to a screen-equipped space as a "questionable classroom."

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