While the internet has been a boon in many respects, I am concerned about some of its detrimental effects on the learning process.
When I first purchased a Kindle I was delighted with it. It is light. You can change the font. Downloading a book is not only fast but cheaper than the hard copy. You can carry your Kindle in a purse so that it is particularly handy for travel.
Similarly, a computer and an I-pad are convenient. You can look up anything in a second (if your connection works) and the world of information is at your finger tips. All this is true and I appreciate the benefits of the digital age.
However, and this is a big however, after reading books in E-form I find that my concentration is not as strong. I read the article on the screen and then flick around to something else and have to ask myself what was I reading?
I have read many books on my Kindle and when I study the menu I wonder what they were about. Now this does not happen with the printed word on a paper page. I have hundreds of books in my print library and can tell you immediately what the theme was and who the characters were in every one of them.
It’s as if what is on the digital screen is ephemeral, something to be read and discarded without being absorbed by the brain. I know that if I want to make a note of something I write it down on paper, because that makes it more credible to me.
So what I am referring to is not “information overload”, but rather the form in which the information is presented.
Now it’s very possible that I am having this reaction because my initial education was with books, pen and paper. Why, I can even do “proper” handwriting rather than printing. But I have been using a computer for thirty years, so I’ve been familiar with the internet for quite a while.
Baroness Susan Greenfield has been warning us about the effects of the digital age on the brain. The short attention span that is created by being able to surf the net willy nilly means that nothing much is read in detail.
We are used to the bite, the morsel, the nano-content of information and we are training our minds to flick from one thing to another without weighing the evidence, without questioning its importance and without sitting down away from the screen to reflect on what we have read.
One only has to observe the populace walking around everywhere, head down, thumbs hard at work, on I-phones. The obsession is very strange and rather scary. If they get all their information on the net and they are at it non-stop what will happen to their powers of reflection, comprehension and absorption?
This is what concerns Baroness Greenfield who spends her life promoting Neuroscience. She is certainly not against information and neither am I. In fact, I’m one of those types who checks information and spelling and trivia pedantically.
I have been an educator and I am very worried that the information and the books on E-readers are making us lightheaded. Not much is going in and staying in, and that is a pity because so much is going out into the ether.
We are inundated with the digital stuff and perhaps we are beginning to drown in it without a life jacket. It’s the medium, not the message!