Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Screens in class?

"People flipping through electronic pages often retain less of what they read than on printed ones, studies suggest. . . ." 

This past semester, I experimented with permitting my undergraduate students, against my usual practice, to bring the class readings--intended for shared close reading during intensive seminar-like discussion--on their laptops, tablets, or even phones. It seemed clear to me that this had a very bad effect on class discussion--people just got distracted looking at their screens and lost touch with each other and the thread of the class. And now this study--apparently they just did not read as closely on screen as they would on paper. Perhaps technology can solve or transcend this problem that it seems to have created--or, for some uses, perhaps we really do read and mark up on paper, and talk face to face without the distraction of screens and connectivity.

But surely this must depend on the sort of classes I teach, since I am lucky to teach fairly small groups and to teach by discussion of assigned texts. 

See Anne Eisenberg, "Tackling the Limits of Touch Screens," New York Times (May 17, 2014).

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