Tag Archive for 'research'

Paper accepted for #NLC2010

Yesterday i got the big news:

“I am pleased to inform you that your paper “A model for leveraging social learning technologies in corporate environments”, reference 0053 has been accepted for NLC2010. “

I’m so glad that this paper, which i wrote with Robin Yap, got accepted! It is the first time I will be attending an academic conference after my graduation. In 2007 I presented a working paper as part of my master thesis together with Ida Wognum on the AHRD Int. Conference on HRD Research and Practice across Europe in Oxford, UK. At the time I was used to go to conferences for commercial purposes and I was really attracted by the constructive feedback and atmosphere among all participants in the academic conference. In Oxford I also met Jeffrey Keefer and Robin Yap for the first time, I’m glad we kept in touch online since then.

After my studies (HRD at University of Twente) I kept looking for new possibilities to keep researching aside my job as consultant. In my opinion being a consultant is a highly knowledge intense job. To keep ahead of the competition you need to be able to create new knowledge from patterns of changes you see in the field of expertise and to be able to use that knowledge effectively in your job as a consultant. In else, -to be knowledge productive. In order to be knowledge productive I believe it is important to keep questioning what you see in the world and reflect on that what it means for your work practices. Also, i believe that at times you need to be able to get in “a step further”. Take the time to really study a specific topic and see what the changes mean for practice in relation to the current body of knowledge. So I’m really glad to be having this opportunity now with support from my employer and with the ability to do this research with a great friend who also works from this practice oriented perspective.

The Networked Learning Conference will be held in Aalborg, Denmark at the 3th and 4th of May 2010. It features Etienne Wenger and Yrjö Engeström in the keynotes.

Searching the internet increases brain function

In many publications on the Net-generation, assumptions were made on the effects that the use of media might have on the structure of our brains. The general claim was roughly that brain structures of todays youngsters have changed as a result of their intensive use of digital media and web technology.  Because of this event, we should change our learning strategies towards those kids. All well, but there were hardly any scientific studies to support those claims.

A recent study led by Dr. Gary Small  gives us some interesting new insights on the effects that the use of the web has on our brains. A press release of the UCLA shows us the main findings of the study that will be published in the next issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Results are also described in Dr. Small’s new book iBrain (Small & Vorgan, 2008).

The main findings of the study show that “searching the Internet triggers key centers in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning …. web search activity may help stimulate and possibly improve brain function.”

“Daily exposure to high technology—computers, smart phones, video games, search engines such as Google and Yahoo—stimulates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release, gradually strengthening new neural pathways in our brains while weakening old ones. Because of the current technological revolution, our brains are evolving right now—at a speed like never before” (Small & Vorgan)

The study was conducted with 24 volunteers with the ages between 55 and 76. Half of the group were experienced internet users, the other half were inexperienced.  Participants’ brain activity was measured during two separate activities, reading a book and searching the web. The image below shows us the results of an experienced user. On the left displays brain activity while reading a book, the image on the right displays activity while engaging in an Internet search.

You can see for searching the web, more and different parts of the brain are used that are not used during reading a book. Interesting finding was that this only happened with the more experienced internet users. According to Small, they might have learned to use more strategies to engage in an internet search.

According to an article by Judi Lin, Small argues on the Net-generation that the intensive exposure to the web is “rewiring their brain’s neural circuitry, heightening skills like multi-tasking, complex reasoning and decision-making.” But there’s a important node added to this: “All that tech time diminishes “people” skills, including important emotional aptitudes like empathy.”