To Learn = Downtime

neurons

I have seen more and more data on this over the past few weeks. Fragmented of course, which is how all of our information comes at us these days (notice the use of “at us” as opposed to “to us”, because information is coming at us, at a faster and faster pace and more and more fragmented). I see terms thrown around like “mobile learning”, “pervasive learning”, “learning chunks”, “learning bits”, etc…. I see conversations in LinkedIn groups by college professors that start with the question “ Are you having difficulty getting your students to read?” Well of course we are because no one can focus for more than a few minutes, adults or students and this is why we are now using terms such as “learning bits”!

It seems so simple right? Surely we get it. Or are we so distracted by all of this information we can’t process it, so we don’t get it? It’s distractions that are the problem. We are so busy inundating ourselves with information that we can’t process any of it. It’s there, it’s gone. All this information is actually keeping us from learning anything. We surf, we don’t dive or immerse ourselves in the information, which by the way, is what it takes to really learn and understand something. Do you know that all of the evidence suggests that we form permanent memories when we sleep and when we rest? This is when the permanent neural connections are formed. Not rest in front of a digital device either, we must stop, think, focus, process. This is how we solve problems. We have to focus, think, reflect. Why do you think the answers to some of those elusive problems we tackle come to us in our sleep or on vacation? It’s because our brain can finally rest, process and put together the solution. My best ideas come to me when I am on vacation. Often I tackle a problem during the day and wake in the middle of the night with the solution.

Yet we are so busy being busy, we can’t process the information and put the puzzle together in our heads either. We are so distracted we don’t even know we are distracted. We literally jump from one headline to another, one site to another, consume it and done. No time to process the information, no time to think about the context or the consequences, no time to verify the information. We don’t need to worry about a zombie apocalypse because we are already experiencing it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love technology and all of the resources available to me through technology. But I wonder, I contemplate, I take time to reflect on what all of this information is doing to us, to our students, to my students especially. I mean at least when I read something I possess the critical thinking skills to give it a context and a framework, but not my students. Many of them have yet to develop that framework so for them, all of this information becomes a problem. Not just a distraction problem, a relevance problem. When we are learning about something new, which information is relevant and which isn’t? How can you tell? To know which information is relevant takes being able to filter the information by context and category. And there is so much information. Information I am exposing them to as well as all of the information they are finding on their own. This is one of the reasons I co-founded TheHubEDU. I wanted a space where my students could organize and contextualize the information they are learning about. Build their reference library free from the distractions of all the other social media. TheHubEDU is a place where all learners can come to immerse themselves in the information instead of riding the waves from one piece of information to another. I want my students to be active participants in their learning, not just passive consumers. TheHubEDU is my way of promoting and supporting that behavior. It’s not just another website, it’s a necessity for better learning in a world full of distractions.