ICT related news and ideas

Hands-on learning

I was interested recently, as I am sure a lot of us were, to read about developments in gesture control technology, which will soon see us control a wide range of devices, and not just our games consoles, by hand and finger movement. Some of the headlines rather exaggerated the matter by suggesting the imminent demise of the touchscreen. Well, I suspect that’s probably not true, and a good job, too, as I think the touchscreen is set to be one of the important keys to effective learning.

How so? Well, one of the the thorns in the side of so called e- learning has long been that the traditional read > write notes > remember sequence has struggled to retain its effectiveness in the transition from book and paper to the computer screen. This is because we are at heart tactile, touchy feely creatures and making notes by using a keyboard can’t quite replace the hands-on feel of pen on paper. The keyboard still separates us from our on-screen source of information.

Which is where the touch screen comes in. Just look at the success of the Kindle, which allows you to retain the sense of handling your reading material, or the iPad and its various imitators, on which the reading experience is made more immediate and engaging than on a traditional screen simply because you are in physical contact with it. And these tablet -style devices have the capability to make our note taking experience just as involving just as soon as they get their handwriting recognition properly sorted out. It’s still not great, but it must get better. If I can do it on my Windows 7 powered touchscreen netbook, you ought to be able to do it on an iPad!

Learning is certainly set to be revolutionised by tablet-style devices over the next few years. And my hope is that they will allow for the reinvention of effective learning by note taking and so finally put paid to the argument that you can’t learn properly by reading from a screen.

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