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Friday, March 22, 2019

Why Teachers and Students Need to Learn about Their Brains in the Digital Age | Featured Articles - Learning Counsel

For good and bad, technology changes our brains. But then again, so does every experience we have, explains Betsy Hill, President of BrainWare Learning Company.

Our brains develop (throughout life) in interaction with our environment. As one neuroscientist puts it, our brains become what our brains do.

So what are our brains doing and becoming in the digital age? This field of research is booming and some of it raises concerns. When it comes to literacy, for example, Maryanne Wolfe, in a recent article in The Guardian, explained that “skim reading” is replacing deep, analytical, reflective reading. Skim reading means that our brains scan for words and we don’t take the time to return to an earlier part of the text to refresh our recollection or rethink and reevaluate our take on the subject. There seems to be evidence that reading on a screen promotes this “light” version of reading. 

But don’t we all do skim reading at times, even with a magazine, a newspaper, or a textbook?  Can’t skim reading actually serve a useful purpose – like finding a specific piece of information we are looking for? A colleague of mine recalls being amazed when he got to college and someone explained to him that there are different ways to read. He had inferred from all the reading tasks he had been assigned over the years that the only “correct” way to read was to read every word. For him, skim reading was a new and extremely useful skill. In fact, the skill is so useful that people have been known to spend money to become better at it; it was called speed-reading.

That doesn’t mean that there is no longer any need for deep, careful, critically analytical reading. We don’t learn deeply from what we skim. We can learn deeply from what we spend mental effort on in the reading process.

Here it is helpful to remember that learning is a biological process – the making and strengthening of connections among neurons in the brain into neural networks or maps...

I have presented webinars over the last year on Nepris on brain development and student study habits. Nepris is a great resource, by the way; it allows teachers to bring experts in various fields into their classrooms (virtually) for their students to interact with.

In these webinars, students are eager to check out brain myths, to find out why they remember some things and not others, and what happens to their brains when they are anxious or upset, or when they don’t get enough sleep. 

Source: Learning Counsel