What Forty Years Of Research Says About The Impact Of Technology On Learning Free Online

A new report says online learning has boosted students’ ability to learn free online and made the experience of interactive courses more enjoyable.

A study found that our rapid pace of technology, especially online, is drastically slowing down our learning abilities.

Our collective interaction with technology is constantly advancing and becoming more powerful and intricate each year. So the next time you pick up a tablet or print out a sentence in an electronic book, it feels only natural to assume that the experience is vastly superior to your years of school. But there’s one major obstacle standing in our way: our rapidly accelerated pace of technology.

While online books and textbooks are much more educational than the traditional print version, they aren’t 100 percent accurate. In fact, they’re worse. Even though tablets, e-readers, and smartphones are certainly more mobile and transparent than their printed counterparts, we’re still more dependent on them, and therefore more likely to error on character meaning or grammar. And although the technology allows for more personalized, simultaneous learning experiences that could be very beneficial to students, it can also introduce the possibility of delay, an event that is simply absent from a paper or book’s form.

“We could say that our computational and digital communication methods are filtering out all the subtle expressive nuances that give the human mind structure,” University of Vienna professor and study participant Gerd Eichstaedt told the media. His study was recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

In previous studies, Eichstaedt and his colleagues simulated the effects of text-based reading through an oscillating ball, and collected samples from students who were read dozens of stories and watched animated movies about complex mathematics. The ball had the appropriate form, but nevertheless, when they compared the results from both the scroll forms to the ones that were squiggled on the ball, they realized that many key elements had been lost. In addition, the fact that the lag time that occurs during an oscillating ball also happened when they included words and sentences was also noticed.

Now let’s talk about how long it took them to get through the study. The instructors used standard font sizes and sizes, and covered at least 16 different languages. They used one notebook for each student, a table, a computer, and an ATM card to record all the information. Moreover, it was impossible to stack their course materials any higher, which led to the study’s overall duration of about three and a half hours. And the problem was compounded by the fact that they had to make a first attempt to finish their assignments on the few machines, because their other ones were either broken or malfunctioning. The study did include at least four breaks, but after 45 minutes the machines wouldn’t work and the teachers were forced to cancel the tests. Of course, the instructors did manage to teach the students in 90 minutes, but after that they were probably left with a feeling of “we did all we could and it wasn’t enough,” a feeling that they weren’t even able to manage to quantify.

Every year, one or more schools has either dropped or discontinued a textbook, and although there are many doubts as to what really happens to students’ knowledge over the course of a year, the odds are greater that students have already received the instruction they require from a text, according to a joint investigation in The Sunday Times.

“Our research led us to conclude that by simply studying texts and being impeded by the speed of modern technology, pupils might have already missed out on an opportunity to build a bigger picture of what is going on in their lives, as opposed to being narrowly focused on one topic at a time,” said Dr Mireia Vazquez, research fellow at the Department of Psychology, at the University of Salford. “While most texts focus on one aspect of a subject, we believe students need to be given the opportunity to explore different facets of a subject with much more depth.”

In order to reduce the cognitive load, universities should decrease the use of textbooks, and focus more on nontextual learning resources.

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