Reading Comprehension: Paper or Screen?


In a recent post, I critiqued the claims in Ferris Jabr’s Scientific American article, “Why the Brain Prefers Paper” that addressed the differences in comprehension between reading from paper and reading from screens. Where Jabr argues that screen reading limits comprehension, I show how his analysis focused only on certain kinds of screen reading, ignoring features of digital texts that challenge his claims. I also looked at some of the research Jabr cites, showing how the results of that research didn’t support his particular arguments. In this post, I want to take another look at that

Defending the Humanities in the Digital Age


Taking Care of Things: Reclaiming What is Lost in Our Defence of Humanities[1] If this were a book, this section would be the preface. If it were an academic paper, a footnote. If an art piece, a curator’s note. But, in this mixed multi-media semi-strange space of the research blog, this is just the space where I tell you what is going to follow. And perhaps, explain (though not to justify) why I need to tell you what is going to follow. For a while now, I have been trying to work through some of the questions

Making Academic Research Purposeful, Accessible in Connected Learning Era


Two weeks ago, the Internet squabbled in the hoopla that resulted from author J.K. Rowling’s admission that she thought her titular character Harry Potter should have ended up with know-it-all sidekick, Hermione. Fans took sides and passionately filled Tumblr and Facebook screeds defending or lambasting Rowling’s statements. And while academics are possibly a (slightly) more reserved bunch than Hogwarts wannabes, a similar uproar could be heard this past week. On Sunday, Nicholas Kristoff published a column in the New York Times, “Professors, We Need You!” In discussing the ways that “Ph.D. programs have fostered a culture that

Exploring Digital Media and Museum-based Learning


As part of my efforts to explore the intersection of digital media and museum-based learning, here is list of items I’ve recently tweeted. I start with the most general and drill down to my specific area of work — informal science learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Envisioning the Future of Educational Technology (infographic) This infographic by Michell Zappa of Envisioning Tech envisions emerging technology impacting learning through 2040. The specific tools are interesting to explore, such as games and badges, but of more interest to me is how they are organized to examine

Meaningful Integration: Optimistic About iPads in Schools


Late last year, my colleague Thomas Philip and I discussed why we were so troubled by the ways the Los Angeles Unified School District bumbled its way through adopting iPads for its students. And, as the second largest school district in the country continues to waffle in its plans for students, I’ve been excited about one district’s initiative to meaningfully integrate technology into the school lives of children.  Starting last week, the St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado began its “deployment” of iPad minis to students at two middle schools. What will eventually be a

Why Technology Alone Can’t Fix the Education Problem


For more than a decade now, I’ve internally cringed whenever someone talks about the promise of technology in education. Often, discussions of iPads, video games, laptops for all focus on the potential of access to the software, device, or app rather than how it’s used. In 1999, my department at UC Santa Barbara decided that all lecturers would hold classes in campus computer labs to demonstrate our progressiveness. We received no training. There was no brainstorming about lessons. We were given no information about the specs of the computer labs. Space was reserved and we were

Re-imagining the Where, When, and How of Educational Practice


“Well, I guess in all honesty I would have to say that I never knew nor did I ever hear of anybody that money didn’t change.” (Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men) Last month, I was at Bett, the annual educational technology and training show. It was a feast for the senses: I saw higher-pixel displays that supposedly ‘improve learning,’ multi-touch screens to ‘transform educational experiences,’ and (of course!) tablet devices were presented as a panacea for, well, everything. The irony was that the venue was simultaneously hosting the EAG Amusement and Leisure Show. If