It's possible to rely too much on computers

Kamloops Daily News
January 30, 2013 01:00 AM

Friday's "They Say" was rather silly. If I had not invested time in learning that Spain is in Europe (and not Africa as some students thought), I might have been able to make a better world, but since I did, well, I guess it is my fault the world is how it is.

I really do not think so.

On a related note, I recall one of my computing science courses at TRU. For the final exam, we were going to be able to use any books or notes we wanted, and the instructor was considering allowing the use of computers (but no Internet use). Those who sat in the back row (by the electrical plug-ins) wanted to be able to use their laptop computers. I was not keen to have to spend hundreds of dollars more to write a final exam. I was concerned that a test could be biased toward computer use. The instructor assured me that that would not be the case.

It was, in fact, quite a fair test. About a week after, I met the instructor in the hall and asked him what difference using a computer had made. He told me that in general, the students who did not use a computer did better than those who did.

I thought about that for some time after. The only explanation that I could come up with that fit the facts was that those who use a computer tend to rely on it and never really dig in, and those who do not simply learn more deeply.

Why bother to look something up when one can simply just already know it? For many facts, this is the easier way to go.



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