Mobile learning makes us smarter than we think.
“Duh,” you exclaim. “Of course it does, Adam. That’s why it’s called mobile learning.”
Hear me out, though.
In his latest book, “Smarter Than You Think,” Clive Thompson explores how technology allows us to use our brains in different ways. He suggests letting machines do what they do best, so we can do what we do best.
Capture Accurate Data
The human memory is a subjective, fickle thing.
Thompson says “it’s not clear” whether we remember an event correctly, often recalling the gist of the game without details.
“So you imaginatively fill in the missing details with stuff that seems plausible, whether or not it’s actually what happened,” he writes. “There’s a reason we call it ‘remembering;’ we reassemble the past like Frankenstein assembling a body made out of parts.”
He used the example of a lifelogger and researcher, Deb Roy, who captured his son’s first steps on camera but “mentally mangled” the actual event when he later recited it back.
“In reality, Roy’s mother was in the kitchen, and the sun was down,” Thompson says, “but Roy remembered it as his wife being in the kitchen on a sunny morning. As a piece of narrative, it’s perfectly understandable. The memory feels much more magical that way.”
By using mobile devices and cloud storage at the point of need, we can capture accurate data however we can – by using instant text entry, recording audio of an interview, or filming some happening at the job site. Using smartphones and tablets helps us remember the details so we can instantly report back on the highlights.
Gordon Bell, another lifelogger, and co-author of “Total Recall,” appreciates that technology now allows us to trap and retrieve this information.
“‘It’s a freeing feeling,’ he says. ‘The fact that I can offload my memory, knowing it’s there – that whatever I’ve seen can be found again. I feel cleaner, lighter.’”
The Art Of Finding
If you record a lot, after several months, you may have amassed an incredible amount of data.
Imagine that you and a co-worker are away from the office about to head into a sales meeting. You want to look up objection-handling techniques real quick, but you can’t find the document in your portal right away. Finally, you remember one of the critical keywords in the document’s title, search for it using your virtual keyboard, and voila: you’re now able to get five minutes’ practice in ahead of the call.
We’re “slightly less likely” to remember something if we know a digital tool will remember it, according to the results of a grad school student’s experiment with her class.
“We are, however, confident of where we can refind it,” Thompson writes. “As (the grad student) wrote in a Science paper, ‘believing one won’t have access to the information enhances memory for the data itself, whereas believing the data was saved externally improves memory because the information could be accessed.”
Mobile Learning Gives Us Awareness
Proprioception is our body’s awareness of where its limbs are located.
When you eat with a knife and a fork without stabbing yourself in the face that’s proprioception, when I practice martial arts and know where my arms, hands, and fingers are at when I’m doing a strike or a joint lock, that’s proprioception, too.
“When groups of people – friends, family, workmates – keep in lightweight online contact, it gives us social proprioception: a group’s sense of self. Used correctly, social proprioception can make one’s work life less frazzled by reducing the constant stream of interruptions. A group that’s connected in an ambient fashion can – counterintuitively – spend less time on communication, particularly the writing and reading of endless email.”
Perhaps the most exciting concept in the book is the discussion of “hybrid thinking,” where the combination of computer and human thinking is more powerful than either one on its own. That is because computers and humans think in very different ways, and by combining them, we can have the best of both worlds.
As my colleague, Dr. Gary Woodill, suggested more than two years ago, mobile learning is making us smarter than we think. After all, mobile devices are computers at heart, often more powerful than the machines we used ten years ago.
Let us help you get smarter by contacting us for some mobile strategy work.
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