This is your brain on the internet

Unfortunately, I didn’t make up this catchy title.  It belongs to Cathy Davidson, a professor at Duke and overall amazing scholar whose work I’ve admired for a long time.  Recently, she published a new book about neuroscience in the digital age.  This article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed is a very interested meditation on the relationship between collaborative learning, the brain, and the internet, spurred in part by the free iPod project that Duke launched some years back.

This little nugget in particular caught my eye, especially in the context of the ePortfolio work we’ve been doing at John Jay:

“Research indicates that, at every age level, people take their writing more seriously when it will be evaluated by peers than when it is to be judged by teachers. Online blogs directed at peers exhibit fewer typographical and factual errors, less plagiarism, and generally better, more elegant and persuasive prose than classroom assignments by the same writers. Longitudinal studies of student writers conducted by Stanford University’s Andrea Lunsford, a professor of English, assessed student writing at Stanford year after year. Lunsford surprised everyone with her findings that students were becoming more literate, rhetorically dexterous, and fluent—not less, as many feared. The Internet, she discovered, had allowed them to develop their writing.”

Can’t wait to read the whole book!


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