In a recent report from the National Literacy Trust it was shown that children aged three to five often read for longer and had a better grasp of vocabulary when accessing touch-screen technology. The report went on to say that ‘touch-screen technology “could be a vital new weapon to combat low literacy in key target groups”.
Best of all, the study found that tablet computers had a particular impact on groups that are traditionally most resistant to reading – particularly boys and infants from poor families.
This is of course great news. Not that you would know it had you been watching the TV review of the report. The UK national news covered this useful information by finding experts whose single piece of information was ‘Yes, but I like books’. It wouldn’t have been so bad had they have even given a logical run down of where books may usefully score, but no. The argument was just, “I like books”.
One paper went found a contrary piece in a recent edition of the British Journal of General Practice. This warned that children were “more susceptible to developing a long-term problematic dependency on technology”. If you read that last sentence again, but backwards this time, it makes just as much sense.
It probably still comes as a shock to many of us working in learning and development that there is still much resistance to using good technology to help us learn. Maybe it’s because early ideas for elearning just weren’t very good and created mistrust. Or perhaps it’s just cognitive inertia – the simple tendency for old beliefs and practices to endure and no matter how much evidence supports the new ideas.
But the reality is that, as learning professionals, whether we like it or not, we are still fighting this battle. And, like many battles, the best way to win it is to adopt better and even more advanced technologies. By being more innovative, we drive the whole market forward. It is therefore critical to keep exploring and adopting new software and hardware to improve our offerings.
Today’s latest touch screen devices and specific learning standards and software such as Tin Can and Web Socket tech solutions create new ways and opportunities to learn. They offer undeniable advantages over more ‘traditional’ elearning solutions. They will still not be universally adopted. But they offer a real step forward in the battle to advance learning and one less excuse for ‘laggards’ to get left behind. Ultimately that benefits everyone, whatever their age.