Futurist Educator

03 September 2010

Does Using Technology Always Make You More Efficient?

High TechnologyWhether and to what extent we should simplify our lives and get "back to basics" is a debate that has been going on since the invention of writing. As the rate of technological progress increase at an accelerating pace, a counter trend is emerging where technological development is not inherently synonymous with progress. Proponents of Appropriate Technology (AT) argue that progress can only be achieved with technology that is designed with special consideration to what it is intended for.

rube goldbergAnything you can do, a machine could theoretically do faster, better, more efficiently but is this really true? The GPS software on my cell phone, for example, can navigate me from one place to another much faster and more efficiently than a human navigator could except that the GPS stops working if I blunder into an area into which the network's signal won't reach. My calendar, which is on the Internet, can be reached from any computer or from my cell phone, and updated from both places. It will send me automated reminders to do things at a certain time but sometimes the reminders themselves will slow me down, or a reminder will come into my phone when I'm trying to talk to someone or when I'm trying to use that GPS locator -- oops, just missed that turn -- thanks, GCal.

I'm not against technology. In fact, I love it or I wouldn't be keeping my calendar on the Internet and giving my contact information to Google. However, simpler is usually better, and there are times when the simplest technology works the best. Well, consider pen and paper. I think that not only is the pen mightier than the sword, it's mightier than Google Tasks, Remember the Milk, or Toodledo. If the aim is to remember what to do, then the simple act of physically writing them down does the job: It helps you to remember. This phenomenon is supported by research and here's how:

1. Most of our knowledge about the world comes from three places: our eyes, our ears, and our hands. Educators are finding that writing and drawing, activities you do with a pen or pencil and paper, help the brain to understand concepts, especially concepts that have to do with language. A functional MRI study on the neural substrates for writing confirms this. Because we are set up to learn in large part through what our hands do, thus hands-on forms of learning tend to be more effective. So writing things down helps us to remember more than making a virtual online to do list would because we get our hands more involved.

2. Hands are so helpful when it comes to learning and remembering that some teachers say using sign language (spoken with the hands) in the classroom can help students to concentrate and focus. So writing is not the only way to engage the hands in order to facilitate learning and concentration.

3. The brain remains plastic even as we age. Even though adults are not in school all the time, we can still hope to learn and develop while we work even as we get older. Neurologists say that even after the 40s, an adult brain can continue to rewire itself, make new connections, and learn new things. So brain research related to children's literacy (reading and writing) applies to adults, not just to kids.

4. Being productive is all about concentrating, focusing, learning, remembering things, and above all, staying sharp. I want my work habits to support me in staying sharp, not to cause me to get lost in a mental fog in which I try to convince myself that I don't have to remember anything because Google will remember it for me. According to neuroscientists, adults can even become more intelligent as they age, if they take the opportunity to continue learning.

That's why, I write down my to do list on a sheet of paper instead of typing it away and depending on technology to do the job for me. I also don't rely on digital recorders to keep track of ideas in meetings, I use the old-fashioned method; taking notes with a pen and paper. Moreover, I find that I remember most of what I hear when I write it down. Ironically, I end up not having to refer to my notes. I save the notes, though and becomes useful when sometimes my colleagues like to borrow them.

So, how do you use technology appropriately?




Article by Art Decker who is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a California self-storage locator. Art leads a busy life, but enjoys meeting new people and interacting with customers when traveling between sites, like from San Francisco to the San Jose self-storage center.

Click here to continue reading..
Link:
Loading..
Del.icio.us Digg It! Stumble It Reddit