Have you run across Brain Rules? It’s a great book by John Medina that sets out basic rules for surviving and thriving at home, school and work. These rules have some interesting implications for the use of technology in learning. Example: For short term memory, remember to repeat. Repetition is one of the strengths of technology because you can set up a system to repeat concepts many times without getting tired or without getting angry.
Another rule is: Vision trumps all other senses. So technology that provides visual media helps students learn and remember more. A research study indicated that computer animation that is too complex or lifelike may be distracting to learners. Simple, colorful, two-dimensional, animated graphics are best.
Example 3: Learners are natural explorers, so technology that provides access to other ideas, regions or people will help learners learn more and apply what they learn in their life.
Still not convinced? Example 4: Stimulate more of the senses. Technology can be used to simultaneously present text, images, sounds and even smells that combine into a robust learning experience cheaply and easily. Think teaching the concept of circumference by showing a clip of Indiana Jones running away from the large sphere at the beginning of the movie.
One of the obstacles we face in using technology is not having a solid rationale for why and how we are using it. The concepts in Brain Rules can help us build a foundation of research for making sound choices about how we use technology to improve learning.