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The digital age is here like never before. Individually, our world is changing as fast as the notifications of our news feed open. Collectively, we are moving at lightning speed. The advocates and critics of today’s digital generation share contrasting views of the legacy it will make; however, all agree that this modern medium of connectivity exercises different areas of the brain and engages its consumers to no end. Based on the readings of this assignment, I will demonstrate how the balance of digital technology serves more benefits than shortcomings, most notably in the following ways: (a) creates an endless network of communication exchange and mediums for learning; (b) serves as an expression of how adaptable humans are to their changing environment; and (c) transforms the concept of understanding and learning information from a directive to a more autonomous approach.
Platforms of Communication and Learning
The creation of social networking and such platforms as YouTube have changed our access to entertainment, information, and communication. As Johnson in Everything Bad Is Good For You discussed, this consumption of the internet have prompted society to think and adapt in new ways; furthermore, the increased pace and collection of digital platforms have become in itself a whole new world of exploration (Spatt, 2011).
Digital technology can be both a challenge and an opportunity. Consumers, for example, are expanding their mental and cognitive activities when they have to discover what an application’s function is as well as the parameters by which it should be used. By becoming a student of the application, you thereby appreciate fully how useful and enjoyable this can be, all while challenging and expanding your intellectual abilities (Spatt, 2011).
In the areas of learning, social networking has created new avenues in which participants can express their ideas and share in their experiences. Information is faster and more far reaching. Our brains embrace these new ways and experiences of learning technology; we are hardwired to take such situations and maximize them (Spatt, 2011). A great example of this is the invention of the automobile. By learning the utility and limitations of this machine, we have made more efficient cars now compared to 50 years ago.
A controversial aspect of digital technology is the way in which it affects young minds, cognitively and behaviorally. For example, what some caregivers see as a shocking display of babies being mezmorized by the television or computer screen is simply an example of how deeply engaged a young child can be, when mentally and biochemically stimulated. It is important to note that this stimulation is easily noticeable, when compared to a baby’s unchanged home environment. This example of exploration, learning, and experiencing is perfectly aligned with a young mind’s learning capacities (Spatt, 2011).
It is no secret that the onset of technology has enhanced the breadth of knowledge in research, medicine, and almost every other field in existence. As technology and human knowledge continue to advance forward, the modes of learning will also increase. Digital technology and traditional print both offer different, yet imperative, mental stimuli as do other modes of technology and communication, which independently and collectively exercise different parts of the brain (Spatt, 2011). Appreciating these learning platforms and ways of communication is what makes civilization what it is today. Such progress is a function of mankind ingenuity and ability to acllimate.
Masters of Adaptation and Environment
Many scientists and researchers claim that one of the greatest achievements of mankind has been their ability to adapt and thus, evolve, to their changing environment. Our survivalist ancestors were challenged by immediate and living threats of predators, and with time, these threats were minimized. Mankind was able to dominate its environment through ingenuity and through the succesful application of learned behavior and information. Threats still exist, although they have taken on a new definition.
Human threats that exist today are less visceral, e.g. making money, paying bills, affording a good education for your children, financial health of the national economy, and issues of popular culture. Turning the pages of history, we have slowly but surely handled various categories of trials and errors, and have ultimately endured through every chapter in history. The common thread of all this can argued as the legacy of mankind’s ability to learn, adapt, and advance.
As Carr discussed in Is Google Making Us Stupid?, the immediacy of information today is both intimidating and welcoming, and the biological change that takes place in our brains is undeniable (Spatt, 2011). Although the long-term effects of digital technology is not fully understood, it is important to remember that we have crossed this uncomfortable and intellectual bridge before. Socrates and other philosophers, for example, were noted to fear that the onset of the written word would weaken the strength and memory of the human mind (Spatt, 2011). However, we now know that is the antithesis of what books and print have contributed to society.
Transformation of Learning Methodologies
Many people have switched their reading media from hardcopy to digital print. Although people are reading less (hardcopy) books, billions of us are reading via web browsing, email, chatting with loved ones, or creating new posts for our personal and/or professional networks. Furthermore, many online exchanges involve self-participation and engagement, thus, encouraging writing more than ever (Spatt, 2011). Critics are concerned that users of digital technology will become less intellectual; however, the reason why people are spending less time watching television and movies is because they are spending that time in the digital market of communications and entertainment (Spatt, 2011).
As mentioned earlier, the breadth of knowledge is wider today, and learning is more participatory. Scientists and medical professionals now understand the biochemical complexities of the learning mind. With a better understanding of different types of learners (visual, auditory, reading/writing, hands-on, and mixture of some or all of these), the process of learning effectiveness and applying new information has also improved. The traditional and insular form of teaching popular in the 19th and 20th centuries have become outdated. Struggling students of this generation who were once called “retarded,” “slow,” and “dumb,” are now known to be properly diagnosed with such learning disorders as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With this heightened awareness and appropriate intervention and treatment, various types of learners and those with such conditions are learning and thriving in academic, professional, and personal ways.
Research showed that the most committed readers (of hardcopy print) were also the biggest users of the internet, making the claim that print and digital literacies can supplement each other rather than completely replace one another (Spatt, 2011). As Rosen mentioned in People of The Screen, “The screen mediates everything from our most private communications to our enjoyment of writing, drama, and games…and require navigation skills different from those that helped us master print literacy” (Spatt, 2011, p. 277). Thus, digital technology represents an evolution of literacy that requires a period of uncomfortable adjustment.
The methodologies of learning are vaster, yet the crux of this has not changed. People still take notes, but now they are digital. Students still present projects, but now many will utilize platforms like Microsoft PowerPoint or Vimeo to create their presentations. Students still read books, even though they may be digital copies called e-books. While the digital age of technology has grown astronomically, it has also increased the participatory nature of mankind and its connections (Spatt, 2011).
What is most remarkable is the unbiased nature of digital technology and the way that it has allowed people of all socioeconomic populations to access information. Information today is often times free, immediate, and much more convenient compared to the old days of library indexing, book-hunting, and microfilming newspaper articles. Digital technology directly encourages self-participation and self-learning, which require a person to know how to evaluate and synthesize information (Spatt, 2011).
The overarching impact of digital technology cannot be ignored. No one can discount that the internet and its many platforms have changed the reading culture of our lifetime and beyond (Spatt, 2011). Adaptation and massive change on a cultural scale can make people feel uneasy, especially when society has adapted successfully to one form of doing something for such a long time. Any commodity of the civilized world has its benefits and shortcomings, so the discussion of moderation should always be considered. Nevertheless, mankind’s history has shown that not only can we create new mediums of communication and learning, we tend to learn and adjust to our changing environment and thrive.
- Spatt, B. (2011). Everything Bad Is Good For You. In Writing From Sources, 8th Edition (The Single-Source Essay). [VitalSource]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781319016487/cfi/302!/4/[email protected]:0.00
- Spatt, B. (2011). Is Google Making Us Stupid?. In Writing From Sources, 8th Edition (The Single-Source Essay). [VitalSource]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781319016487/cfi/123!/4/[email protected]:41.6
- Spatt, B. (2011). People Of The Screen. In Writing From Sources, 8th Edition (The Single-Source Essay). [VitalSource]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781319016487/cfi/307!/4/[email protected]:0.00
- Spatt, B. (2011). Writing From Sources, 8th Edition. [VitalSource]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781319016487/
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