Maybe you understand this: when you only have a semester to write a research paper, you’re pretty much guaranteed to skip over some of the quality research in your field – there’s just not enough time. I just finished presenting a literature review on the potential effects of iPad. Of course, because effects research is so broad, and iPad is so new, I had to pick one perspective and run with it.
I chose multitasking and flow research to direct the discussion. One of the sources I used briefly was Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation. However, I missed a pretty key passage, central to his argument about declining literacy now that the “screen” has become the favored medium for the younger generations. Here’s what I missed:
The screen doesn’t involve learning per se, but, as Sweeny says, a particular “learning style,” not literacy in general, but “viewer literacy” (Bomer’s term). It promotes multitasking and discourages single-tasking, hampering the deliberate focus on a single text, a discrete problem. … The model is information retrieval, not knowledge formation, and the material passes from Web to homework paper without lodging in the minds of the students (p. 94).
One of the pieces of research I did cite in full was that conducted by Ophir, Nass, and Wagner (2009) at Stanford. This is an abbreviated version of their work.
When media companies successfully integrate all forms of media into one screen, how will we differentiate between video games and books or television and Web surfing? Will YouTube become as important as a 200-page book or even a 30-page research report?
If you believe that information in books is far too dense to capture in a video, how come kids are saying, “We don’t read anymore”? If people truly aren’t reading, or are reading short passages with little or no context in addition to the videos they watch, then it stands that the multitasking behavior inherent in the multimedia systems we’ve created for ease of use are changing how we learn.
When I read social critics who advocate for the importance of the book and the learning style it encourages, it seems that few are willing to discuss the possible implications for the future of our country.
What happens when the younger generation, who learn without fully digesting the material they learn, become the country’s leaders?
They won’t have the same knowledge of history or civics or foreign cultures that the current leaders do. Some will say that the ability to find information today is vastly superior to what it was even 10 years ago. I agree. But, is there any research to prove that the Internet is being used in this way? Or, are the social critics right, and is the Internet just a place to scan until we get bored, log off, and commence the race car game we started earlier?