I was looking at a Powerpoint of a research report by Kelly Geo called “Your Brain Is In Your Hand” ( I would choose the second option which allows you to see the slides as a manual click per slide).
This report is based on Kelly’s research into the ability of the “digital native” to actually use pen/pencil and paper as a means to think through ideas. She uses geometry as an example of where students who did a diagram were able to understand a problem and get a solution whereas many of the students who just attempted to answer the question by reading a screen often failed to get the answer and would often say that they did not understand the question.
The report is a timely reminder to us all that technology is not the total answer to all of our educational needs. It is often presented as if it were some sort of panacea that would transform education.
It is , when all is said and done, a tool. It ranks amongst many tools that will allow children to develop their thinking and their mastery of subjects. Sometimes there are more conventional means to help us understand. As Kelly states in her report, pen and paper is a powerful tool. It allows us to doodle, to experiment, to visualise ideas and to think things through.
The classroom should have as much powerful technology as it is possible to supply to aid children’s learning but it must also have plenty of paper for them to scribble on, to design on, to cross out on and to think with. I know that this runs against the grain of the new mantra of the “paperless classroom” but I am not advocating some sort of return to a chalk and talk instructional model with textbooks and exercise books. I am merely advocating the continued use of the powerful human device of piece of paper and a writing device to allow the hand to aid thinking as Kelly so ably demonstrates and argues for in her report.