Technology grows smart, we turn out…dummies

Firstly, just a quick note on why I chose this title. My inspiration was the For Dummies series which is the main learning source for individuals who seek to take the easy way to understanding a specific topic or domain. Information is presented in a systematic way and works great for readers who are new to a specific topic, so I embrace this initiative, don`t get me wrong. Therefore, I merely chose this term for emphasizing the theme below.
On a more “niched” note, there`s been a lot hype lately referring mostly to the benefits of social media and cloud technology, and in general, to the potential of web 2.0 platforms to store, share and distribute information. Whereas UGC (User Generated Content) is essentially a “blessing” for freedom of expression and collective intelligence stimulation, there are nonetheless some drawbacks we need to address:
1. Social Impotence – In an era when staying sane means staying connected to the Internet (n.r. and Yes, I have recently seen a stream of conversations where the idea of the Internet being “turned off” for one day drove people crazy), curing such a dependency can turn out to be quite difficult. Apparently, social media usage actually affects our brain, studies showing that 5% of internet users are unable to control how much time they spend online. They crave for more of the excitement produced by using the Internet after each interaction. No wonder I am seeing everyone spending their time online when they`re out with their friends. Why restrain yourself to an audience of 2 or 4 people, when you could be “out” there for your entire network of 5,000 “friends”?
2. Multitasking Shortcomings – it might seem that those working with social media or constantly switching between more websites in the same time might have the ability to multitask, but studies have found that when comparing heavy new media users with others they perform much worse during task switching tests. It`s not about being fast, it`s about paying attention.
3. Silly Syndromes – You`ve probably never heard of the Phantom Vibration Syndrome, but you can imagine what it`s all about. Basically, you`re brain messes with you giving the sensation that the phone vibrated when it actually didn`t. Played by your own device. Not too bad, smartphones!
4. More Egocentric than ever – social media triggers dopamine release, which is a happiness hormone. When people are active online talking about themselves gives a sudden burst in the reward centers from their brains. What ever happened to listening to others?
5. Using External memory rather than our own – we would rather use forms of transactive memory, storing information outside ourselves, than use our own brains for storing it. We remember less because we are not required to do so – it`s enough that we know where information can be found. So, let`s hope our external hardware doesn`t crash when we`re in a meeting, right?
I may have approached just the tip of the iceberg, acting like the Grinch who stole the High-Tech Hype, but I will return with another post with some of the mainstream`s advantages. Stay tuned! Or is it tubed? 

Mind mapping and concept mapping as techniques of teaching: a comparison

The two types of visual techniques have been developed by different groups of scholars. Thus, mind mapping was developed by Buzan (1974, 2000), while concept mapping was developed by Novak (Novak, 1981; Novak and Gowin, 1984).

A mind map is a presentation form of radiant thinking, utilizing lines, colors, characters, numbers, symbols, images, pictures or keywords, etc. to associate and integrate, visualize the learned concept and maximize brain potential (Buzan & Buzan, 1996).  Basing on free association and imagination, and using pictures and symbols to express the thoughts, mind mapping enhances creativity, problem-solving and deduction capacity.

The alternative notion, the concept map, has been developed as a research instrument. Novak şi Gowin (1984, p. 15) defined the concept map as „a graphic scheme that represent a set of meanings of the concept integrated in a frame of proposals”. A concept map uses diagrams organized in a tree structure, which include concepts framed in boxes. Starting from a key question, concepts are connected with linkage words, in order to form a statement.

The discussion about the potential of application of each technique in different areas and for different purposes should consider first their characteristics. For example, mind mapping can be used with no previous preparation in educational or professional settings. Being a deductive and a creative method, aiming to represent the mental structure of participants, cannot have as result major errors. Also, because previous preparations and lectures are not necessary (it is based on previous knowledge but the information needed as ground is rather general) it is not a need to select participants or to have a time reserved for preparation. Thus, can be used easily in professional and organizational settings (like group meetings, brainstorming, pitches, and so on). On the other hand, concept mapping cannot have the same degree of spontaneity as mind mapping. Concept mapping needs a previous time for preparation and a good understanding of definition of concepts. Therefore, concept maps cannot be created by any participant (should be selected upon their degree of competence to discuss a topic) and cannot be built spontaneously (it is not appropriate for an unannounced exercise in class). Finally, reviewing the types of application of method (for example, individual or group building of a map) becomes obvious that mind mapping can be applied in all types of settings (individual at home, in class individually, in group in class) and spontaneously, while concept maps are difficult to build in a group, and could be applied individually in class only after a time of preparation.

Exploring the digital intelligence

Some decades ago (1983), Gardner initiated his theory about multiple intelligences, giving start to a persistent academic debate about types of intelligence, distinction from other concepts and instruments of development (with large echoes in pedagogy). However, even different schools of research took different paths (studying exclusively a certain type of intelligence, or trying to build frames of measurement), there is still room to find new paths or even develop new types of intelligence.

These new paths come not only from the large definition that Gardner proposed to intelligence, but from the linkage to content he performed when circumscribing the sphere of the concept: „Second, my intelligences are specifically linked to content. I claim that human beings have particular intelligences because of informational contents that exist in the world—numerical information, spatial information, information about other people.” (2011, p. xl).

Thus, if each type of intelligence is linked to content, then the first major change in types of information we should address, when trying to identify the changes occurred in the XXI century should be related to the „digital divide”. In our days, individuals receive and process information in a digital form, and their capacity to generate value products for community is essentially related to their capacity to use digital devices, to search, select and use digital information, to interpret social signals and interact with other beings via computer or smartphone.

Although the impact of the digital divide has been studied by some scholars (Deursen and van Dijk, 2010), a small number of studies explicitly inquired about the digital intelligence as a concept. But the omnipresence of digital content in studying or processing information, or  the impact of the online information and presence to the real life do oblige people to form abilities in managing digital contents. These are supplementary reasons for studying the digital intelligence as a definite type of intelligence that is different from individual to individual (in the spirit of Gardner definition), and is distinctly developed in generations (more developed in the so-called „Net Generation” than in previous ones).