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Sellens Real Estate Lending

Professional Real Estate Lending since 1991

The Learning Process and why Books make better learning tools

The computer offers speed and access to information we would otherwise have difficulty finding, but it may not be the best interactive learning tool.

The Best Learning Tool is still the written page.  Read on to see why.

Blessed with language, a cognitive tool developed by people in order to communicate, exchange information and record facts, we educate ourselves and others.  Defined as "a system of signs that express ideas," language, whether written or spoken, is a powerful tool and most central in our lives.

A technical writer focuses on the success people have in learning from his written products.  The secret of learning is individual interaction with the subject matter.

Technical writing, unlike fiction, where the best books give the reader "clues" as to what is going on, and the reader "discovers" what the writer wants him to know, educational writings "tell" the reader what they need to know.  Immediately, the student must overcome his reluctance to being "told" the facts, and begin the learning process in ways only he knows.

Student leaning interaction means, how that student internally organizes new information.  During the learning process, each person has his own way of mentally indexing and retrieving new information. A high I.Q. will make organization easier.  An good example of this process is as follows:

You take a class, get or print an eBook, read the book, highlight information as you read, make comments in the margins and draw diagrams from one section of the book to another. 

You may have noticed that a couple of traditional learning steps were skipped.  As a law school student, we were told to do this:  Read the case book assignment before class, go to class prepared with some knowledge of the subject and take notes on the lecture, go home and make an running outline of the course.  In addition, we used Horn-Books to fill in educational gaps in the law. 

You won't do all those steps today, but at at least, when you customize the textbook, all your work is personal and tailored to what you already know, and is indexed according to your internal filing system.

Skipping the writing part of the process takes it's toll, so you have to make up for it by working harder in another area, perhaps reading it more often than you would have if you have ever written any of it, and when you read the material over, paying special attention to the highlighted sections.

Now you begin making summaries, reducing the information to mnemonics and references to key sections of the book.

You take the test questions, in order to approach the subject from different angles.  A test question makes another memory envelope open or accesses the information via another path.

Write and study the questions you miss.  Don't waste your time studying what you already know.

Other tools are, reading the material aloud, using flash cards, and, low down the learning list, is listening to an audible book.  Audio books are great for keeping known facts in the upper memory, but do little as a primary learning tool.

Many learning software programs are available today.  They provide ways to turn the computer into a writing/learning machine.  At best, assigning interactive duties to the computer screen, is simply putting a layer between the subject material and your mind.  Nothing will be saved in the learning process.  Somehow personal interactive work has to be done in order to accomplish the learning task.

Heavy animation and graphics, often used in teaching children, turn the learning procedure into a “kids game.” As adults, we shouldn’t need that extra push to get us into the learning mode.  Although, an appealing presentation of material makes the learning time more pleasant.

Teachers of children often use the Object-to-link method, e.g. the turtle becomes a computer controlled cybernetic animal, that the children program.    The turtle is a tool to allow the children to focus on a process, which in this case, is learning computer skills.

 The goal is to use the computer as a learning instrument, and allow the children to build their own internal intellectual structures.  Eventually, after the computer learning process is behind them, the computer "tool" disappears, and pure learning is obtained.

The computer offers speed of completing a task.  Learning requires internalization of information.  Unless the computer makes access to the information to be learned easer, it has little to offer in the actual learning process.

In the final analysis, the purpose of education is to teach us to teach ourselves.  Thanks to the computer and the internet, obtaining information is no longer an issue to overcome.  We have all the tools now to get the information, but we still have to learn it.

Some people may be disappointed in reading this article, but others will recognize the truth from their experiences.  Perhaps one day we will plug a machine into our ear and download information directly into our minds.  Glad to say, we are not there yet.


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