19 July 2010

Using a computer in school as an intellectual force multiplier

I've been thinking a lot recently, as I am preparing to go back to school for a master's degree, how to use my time efficiently. I wasn't very efficient for my first degree; I just happened to throw lots of time at my studies and get a decent grade. But, as I look back and see that I didn't have much of a life, and as I look forward and see that the master's degree I want will likely be more difficult to get than my first degree, I am looking to be more efficient.

I would very much like to avoid reinventing the wheel when it comes to efficient study habits. So, I have been looking for inspiration... and a lot of the inspiration I get comes from computers--designed by technical-minded, intelligent people who must deal with information with limited physical systems. Sounds like me. I too must deal with large amounts of information with my limited cognitive abilities.

Matched side by side, my brain does not fare well against a computer in terms of raw ability. It is much slower than a CPU; long term memory degrades; and short term memory has a very small capacity. However, the human brain, in my opinion, is still better suited for learning ideas in various formats and finding creative applications--which is what I will be doing.

Still, computers and computer methods have much to offer me. When I need to search my archives of notes, my computer can search effortlessly and reduce my own need to do a painstaking search into my notes. When I need to access detailed information, the computer can retrieve it from its memory years after it is entered, and take away my own need to remember the details. When I need to process a complex idea, committing it to paper or using computer tools can greatly enhance my ability to analyze and work with the data.

So, ideally, my computer will do what it is good at, and I will be freed to learn from all the different formats presented to me, and to find creative applications. With the proper use of the intellectual tools of a computer and paper, I could benefit from my education an order of magnitude more than if I had only used my head. This is my intention: to graduate from my school prepared in the best way for my future work.


well said, wise choise
Previously there had been a move to invest in big projector machines, when maybe we could just allow teachers/students to collaborate on parts of the curriculum. Cool stuff.

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