Published by: Digital Schools

Old School or New Tech - Which is Best When it Comes to Learning?.

In the age of digital communication and the verge of the AI Revolution is it smart to leave behind the traditional ways to read and write and opt for new-age tech?

As we become ever more attached to the face of a smartphone screen, the imperative distance we need to build perspective and examine our reality is smeared. Without time and space from our interface, we lose our insight and the essential skills developed in early reading to explore a text, comprehend it and sort fiction from fact.

Surprisingly the less we read books and the more screen-gazing we do, the more likely we are to dissolve the sophisticated neural networks that help us think empathically, mitigate complex social arrangements and understand the emotional needs of others.

” at the heart of reading, we go beyond the wisdom of the author”… Maryanne Wolf

We see a lot of our learning transitioning from old – school, (pardon the pun), reading and writing to digital tools. We love the novelty, and we have the impression that study and learning are quicker and easier done online or on a device, but is this true?.

As it turns out using a digital device when it comes to reading and writing can impair your ability to comprehend a text, develop a sophisticated vocabulary and determine the difference between false and misleading information with fact.

Maryanne Wolf, a literary scholar and Director of the Centre for Reading and Language Research in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University, says we have become a generation of skimmers. 

When reading from an illuminated screen or ebook, we find it harder to immerse ourselves into the text because we are distracted by the multiple search bars, hyperlinks and infinity scrolling. Time becomes figurative and less relative, and we lose where we are, and can not remember where we have been. 

Maryanne says that screens fragment our attention and the lights and illusory nature of digital books requires us to use more cognitive energy to perform the task of reading. The energy we use to read from a screen means milliseconds are lost in mental processing, and we don’t read properly.

She says without the ‘Deep Reading’ experience, the reader finds it difficult to cultivate an individual perspective or know what he or she has learned. Deep reading is where we form analogies and explore dynamics between what we think and what we have read. The experienced reader utilises a complex neural network spanning different brain regions to make conclusions and form opinions that are more sophisticated than someone who doesn’t read at all.

The verdict is still out as to whether the physical medium is better than the digital, but what research knows is that students and scholars will option a real book and printed paper over a screen when comprehension of a text is required. Studies show that research and learning from tangible materials is more effective and more efficient than from a device.

Guest Contributor: Emily Rack
Business Name: Horatio’s Jar
Publisher: Digital Schools

Emily Rack is a yoga teacher, meditation instructor, freelance writer and visual content creator. She incorporates a unique creative flair into her yoga and meditation classes, courses and workshops. Emily hosts events and classes in schools and the wider community she is passionate about teaching the art of mindfulness and sharing her knowledge of arts, environment and wellbeing


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