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What Technology Has Contributed Most Toward Your Learning?

Squeezing in one more opportunity for conversation.

June 25, 2020
 
 

Before your voice goes silent on July 1, I’d like to take advantage of the last few hours of commenting to kick off a conversation about learning and technology. Will you write those letters to the Inside Higher Ed editors?

Specifically, I’m wondering what one technology you would nominate as having done the most to benefit your learning?

We might not get very far in this conversation, as I’m not sure how many variations there will be across your answers. The most likely response, I suspect, is the internet. The internet is the most significant learning technology ever created, bested only by the printing press.

Some of you might lean toward the smartphone, as the internet’s potential as a technology to catalyze learning was only fully realized when it became mobile.

Exactly nobody will mention the learning management system as the most critical learning technology.

Nor will any of you reflect on the essential role of MS Office -- and especially PowerPoint -- in supporting your learning journey.

Some of you might nominate Google or Wikipedia -- we will see. I’m hoping for some votes for typewriters.

Being higher ed people, and if comments were valid diagnostic tools for the thinking of digital communities (they aren’t), many of you would point to the technology of the book. And I’d be right there with you. The paper book as a learning technology has never been surpassed, and probably never will be.

For my vote of the technology that contributes most to my learning, I’m going with digital books. Why? Multitasking.

Digital books allow me to read while doing other things. Specifically, audiobooks. Each day, I read a book (well, listen to a book) at the same time that I’m doing something like exercising or cleaning or walking around.

Combine the multitasking ability of audiobooks with the syncing capability of audiobooks plus ebooks, and you have a reading game changer. I spend many hours each day (if it is a good day) reading books with my ears and my eyes.

As someone who mostly likes to learn about the world by reading about the world (as opposed to experiencing the world directly), reading more books is critical to my learning.

Books are the fuel that keeps my brain chugging. Without the ideas and concepts and facts and stories from books (mostly nonfiction), my mind seizes up.

In writing these words, I realize that I sound like a nonfiction addict. So be it.

What technology has been the most important for your learning in your time on the planet?

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