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I found these articles online whilst searching and thought they would be of interest to my research.

Hustad, K. (2015) ‘ UIUC’s FlipWord Helps You Learn A Language While You Waste Time On The Internet’ [Online] Available at: http://chicagoinno.streetwise.co/2015/05/27/uiuc-startup-flipword-helps-you-learn-languages-while-online/ %5B

Karis Hustad evidently points out that squandering time on the Internet is no longer a new concept, the web is a hub for procrastination. Whether you agree with this or not is irrelevant at this point, for there is now a way to “waste time” and learn in unison. Whats more is it is all through everyone’s favourite activity – social media. This is the idea of new venture, Flipword which is a web application which automatically translates basic words in to a different language on whichever web page you are browsing in order to make the activity of learning a new language feel natural and non extranoematic.

What is fascinating about this application is it is a passive tool; there is no demand to seek a learning experience and it becomes embedded in an activity which individuals spend a lot of time partaking in. The software automatically changes words on any page to whatever language you choose to learn and by hovering over that word, its native translation is revealed. The transparency of this concept certainly makes it plausible to become successful. There are plans for audio translation to be developed and added into the software. At this point this feature is not really explained so to assume it is intened that audio replace readable words I think may be a negative addition. The benefit of this idea is that it is simple, natural and as pointed out above, passive. However If it is meant to replace the spoken word on web pages then that is certainly an interesting idea. Although I think it is something which could frustrate the audience. This is because listening is a different activity to reading and the latter affords different leniency’s of time, unlike the former which remains the same.

It is important to highlight the passive nature of this tool. Most learning is achieved by active participation where an individual has to make conscious effort to perform tasks that contribute towards their newly acquired skill or knowledge. In the case of Flipword this is not the case as it merely runs in the background and is arguably, subtle in its method of intrusion. Of course it is too early to say if this venture has the appeal to become successful but its intentions would suggest that there is room for something like this to be capitalised on.

This application is a program which is extremely useful in online learning in the sense that it not only is based on passive learning but it is something relatively untested and so at this point it could have huge potential. This is at the forefront of my filed as it reverts the traditional conventions in learning because of the way the tool runs in the background when individuals are online.

 

Sparks, S. (2015) ‘Does Google Help Students Learn (or Just Think They Do?)’ Education Week [Online] Available at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2015/05/does_google_help_students_lear.html

May 26 2015

Similarly to Sparrow et.al, Sarah Sparks looks at whether our ability to outsource our memory actually helps us to learn or whether we are just developing the skills to find answers at convenience. In a symposium on the effects of students’ online searches, several studies looked at how using the Internet affects both the way we remember and the way we think about what we learn. This article is similar to what Sparrow et.al discuss in their paper, ‘Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Safer Communications.’. According to the study, which analysed 900 studenst online searching habbits, “59 percent looked for a “quick answer,” 26 percent sought “in-depth information” on a topic, and another 15 percent were simply browsing. Even when students knew the answer to a question, they were likely to check the Internet before answering. “There’s a sense that it’s in there somewhere but it’s easier to pull out your phone than think about it,” Ward said. “ (Ward in Sparks 2015).

Obviously the numbers here are valuable but what Adrian Ward (the proposer of the study) says is very instrumental above all else. She acknowledges that we rely on using the internet over brain. We have acclimatised to a situation where we naturally turn to search engines to consolidate any query we may have. Of course this is extremely beneficial and convenient, not to mention it undoubtedly provides us with an opportunity to develop our collective intelligence. However what it also does is take away from the need and the desire to think about things. Sourcing our answer has become a natural reaction to use the internet and we are developing an ability to learn how to find answers rather than for the reason itself. We are beginning to lose sight of the line which separates where our brains end and the internet begins. As Susan Greenfield has pointed out, amongst others, we are beginning to change how we behave in reference to information; we outsource our memory by becoming inclined to remember how to access the information rather than the answers.

It could be argued that for a long time, knowledge was power. However given what Sparks argues above I think there is a lot of evidence to say that that the ability to outsource and locate knowledge is far more powerful. The shift in the mediums we use is very important, but it is the effects which are more fascinating and this is one of them. There is a lot of current debate about the Internet’s effect on our brain and the way we behave in reference to retrieving information and this article addresses an issue which is right at the front of those debates.

 

References

Hustad, K. (2015) ‘ UIUC’s FlipWord Helps You Learn A Language While You Waste Time On The Internet’ [Online] Available at: http://chicagoinno.streetwise.co/2015/05/27/uiuc-startup-flipword-helps-you-learn-languages-while-online/ %5B
[Accessed on 23/06/15]

Sparks, S. (2015) ‘Does Google Help Students Learn (or Just Think They Do?)’ Education Week [Online] Available at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2015/05/does_google_help_students_lear.html [Accessed on 23/06/15]

 

 

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