Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Posts Tagged ‘ intelligence ’

Is the net a vehicle for learning or unlearning?
March 19th, 2009

Scott McLeod posted an item regarding Trent Batson’s refutation of Nicholas Carr’s position that Google is making us stupid. Scott quotes Trent Batson’s views and sought those of his readers. Well, I posted a comment and went to bat with my own perecptions. I repeat them below.

Many, including myself, are not ‘reading on the web’. They may spend only minutes or even less on a site. That is not reading. At least not in the way that I perceive reading. It is skimming.

Certainly there are individuals that are seriously and critically reading the publications of others on the net and responding in kind via other publications, commenting and sharing. That is enlightening and adding to the sum of human knowledge and experience. No argument with that. That is intelligent behaviour. Yet the percentage of web users actually doing that is minimal.

I feel that the vast majority of web users are skimmers. Catching bits here and there. Regurgitating existing bits of content.

Most of what happens on that net is not gregarious. Sure, social networking, blogging, twitter et al facilitates contact, primarily virtual in nature. These contacts are augmented with real human contact from time to time. That is gregarious. Face to face. The virtual stuff is not gregarious. That is wishful thinking.

I cannot help but feel that much of the ‘networking’ that happens via tools such as MySpace and Facebook is an extension of individualism. Not an individualism that expresses creativity but an individualism that is wired to benefit the self as opposed to the community ~ that real community that exists outside their front door, down the street, in the village and in the town. That community is suffering neglect.

Trent Batson writes that, “The web is helping us to reclaim our human legacy of learning”. Is the net making for a betterment of humanity? What are we learning? We are certainly more connected globally. Yet local connections seem to be diminishing. Individuals, particularly youth, are devoting more of their leisure time to pursuits indoors. The exploration of the big wide world that exists down the lane from their home, across the field, down by the creek or even in their own backyard seems to be rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Humanity is unlearning. We are learning how to survive as disconnected individuals in urban boxes. We are unlearning how to be human, real, speaking, listening, coughing, farting, together, exploring, climbing, walking, tripping, falling, hurting and so on.

Humans may have more access to knowledge but that does not necessarily make us a smarter. Access to knowledge does not equate with intelligence. Knowledge itself does not equate to intelligence. It is what you do with that knowledge that makes one intelligent and considering the state of humanity ecologically and economically at the moment it seems to me that all that knowledge is not being put to intelligent use at the moment.

Only the few are discovering new ways to learn via Google and the Web. The vast majority are unwittingly acquiring new ways to unlearn. Wired for immediate gratification.

Conclusion: Education needs to step in and redress this situation.