Your Brain on Computers

Your brain on computers
Well worth the time reading — it’s not about the kids, it’s about adults,
too.
First in a series of articles
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html?ref=technology
If you are interested in this topic – below are a few links.  I am reading Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows right now, and can highly recommend it.
Often questioning the effects of technology ends up branding you with the label “Luddite”.  I am hardly a Luddite, but I have always been concerned about this issue.  I think it is a matter of teaching reading techniques that deal with the new realities of reading in a hyperlinked world.  So far, I’ve not seen much written about this.  Perhaps I am not searching correctly.  If any of you are reading experts – I would love to see some research and techniques for dealing with the new realities of reading.
I am thinking about installing Instapaper and Readability icons on all our browser bars here in the library and teaching kids to use it.  Requiring them to get the “clean copy” of an article and print it.  The point is  not just to save ink, but to save brains, helping people focus more on the text, and spend a little less time chasing links.
Anyway – here are some articles of interest.
http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/
http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2010/05/experiments_in.php
The Future of Reading – My Delicious Account Bookmarks.  I plan to tag all the articles I find under “future of reading.”
http://delicious.com/wanderingbooknut/FutureOfReading
Birkerts, Sven. ”The truth about reading: it’s easy to blame technology for our younger generation’s declining interest in literature. But what, if anything, can be done about it?.” School Library Journal 50.11 (Nov 2004): 50(3). Business and Company ASAP. Gale. Gananda High School. 30 Apr. 2009
http://find.galegroup.com/ips/start.do?prodId=IPS.
Gale Document #: A124941809

I am reading Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, and can highly recommend it.

Often questioning the effects of technology ends up branding you with the label “Luddite”.  I am hardly a Luddite, but I have always been concerned about this issue.  I think it is a matter of teaching reading techniques that deal with the new realities of reading in a hyperlinked world.  So far, I’ve not seen much written about this. Perhaps I am not searching correctly.  If any of you are reading experts – I would love to see some research and techniques for teaching reading in a hyperlinked world. Any literacy coaches out there??

I am thinking about installing Instapaper and Readability icons on all our browser bars here in the library and teaching kids to use them to print a  “clean copy” of articles.  The point is not just to save ink, but to save brains, helping people focus more on the text, and spend a little less time chasing links.  I love that Readability will put the footnotes (hyperlinks) at the bottom.  I like Instapaper because I can save articles, organize them in folders, and read them later on my iPad.  Now, if they both would just do the whole job, I’d really be happy!

I also plan to test-drive  placing my links at the bottom of my posts, rather than embedding them within the body.

So — to that end…

Links referenced above:

Nicholas G. Carr

Instapaper

Readability

Some other articles of interest.

Experiments in delinkification

YOUR BRAIN ON COMPUTERS: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price New York Times.

Reading as a Participation Sport

Kids AND adults are having trouble focusing on one train of thought. First in a series of articles from the NYTimes
Your Brain on Computers:  Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price

The Future of Reading – My Delicious Account Bookmarks.  I plan to tag all the articles I find under “future of reading.”

Birkerts, Sven. ”The truth about reading: it’s easy to blame technology for our younger generation’s declining interest in literature. But what, if anything, can be done about it?.” School Library Journal 50.11 (Nov 2004): 50(3). Business and Company ASAP. Gale. Gananda High School. 30 Apr. 2009
Gale Document #: A124941809

Finally, here is the RSS feed to my “future of reading” folder on Instapaper, should you be masochistic enough to add it to your news reader.

Reading Strategies In a Hyperlinked World

I have the sense that our students are losing the ability and/or willingness to read deeply, because  the internet  has changed the dynamics of reading.
I can find lots of articles and books suggesting that this is happening – but so far have not found practical teaching strategies to address the problem.  Surely there are new  strategies emerging to teach reading in a hyperlinked world.
I would love some help with the following:
1.  Titles of books or articles on internet literacy strategies.
2.  Search strategies to locate such articles, since I am not having much luck locating articles on my own.
Thanks for any ideas you can share.

Writing Out Loud

Good writing and references to the “cannon” remind me of the power and the beauty of reading and writing – and why I became a librarian in the first place.  The Power, the Truth & the Immortality of Words

It has also started me thinking about  communication on the interactive web – ranging from email, to forums, to blogs, to Twitter etc..

We teach expository and creative writing in English class all the time.  How much do we teach about communicating in public?

My questions:

  • Are we teaching students how to communicate effectively ONLINE?
  • Are there writing conventions that we should be teaching to increase the quality of that discourse?
  • Do we teach students how to express their ideas in a compelling and succinct manner?
  • Do we teach students how to express disagreement/dismay/disgust respectfully through powerful language, free of expletives?
  • Do we teach kids the power of using common  literary & cultural references in their writing outside of English class?
  • How many teachers give students the opportunity to practice these skills authentically through blogs and such?

At the risk of being a curmudgeon, when I read the opinions posted on YouTube et al, I despair for the fate of rational discourse in the internet era.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, specific units taught in your school, opinions on how to keep internet communication civil and meaningful, references to articles….anything you would like to share with me – and the small number of folks that wander into this blog now and again.

Drown in paper OR drown in cyberspace. Which?

I just read Chris Potter’s latest blog post – Lose the Paper.

We are ALL creatures of habit. Some of us are just a little more willing to break an old habit and create a new one.

Even if most of our teachers knew how to use wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, et.al…..even if they not only knew how to use them, but also used them regularly at home & conferences….why would they trust that they could use them at work? First there was (and still is) the barking dog problem (Bess – our favorite filtering fido who prevents the use of wikis and social bookmarking etc.) Yes – you can “get creative” as our tech person suggested, and use filter friendly blogs and our new school web page to create/store/share information. But would teachers assume they could actually USE these resources in a staff development where everyone is trying to access the same page at once and the network starts behaving like a snail? And why would teachers post files etc. to their school pages to use them at home, at a conference and at school – when the “at school” option is an old white box computer? People tend to stick with stuff that works.

It will be another generation before paperless options REALLY take hold. It’s not just the “older” teachers who are not adopting it. Lots of younger teachers are not into this way of thinking either. I have been trying to bridge the gap a little with workshops I attend and workshops I run. Where I used to bring tons of handouts, now I tend to provide a one page handout with the basic link(s) to where my materials reside. That way – folks can file it easily in their staff development/conference binders – or just put it in their “to do” file as a reminder to go back to the materials as a refresher.

Here’s a “new technology” that EVERYONE knows how to use and EVERYONE could easily use to work in a “paperless” mode. Email. Before I had access to google docs, the school webpage etc. – I used to attend conferences and open my email for note taking. It worked great – except that it filled up my email in-box 🙁

So – when you come right down to it. We have a choice. Drown in a sea of paper or drown in a lake of links. Either way – we sink 🙂

The trees (and Al Gore) would vote for digital drowning, I suspect!