Learning in an information overload world

July 11, 2013, Simon Fraser University

To harness rather than drown in the ocean of knowledge that swamps us daily via the media and the Internet, we've got to become more cognitively productive, says Luc Beaudoin. The Simon Fraser University adjunct education professor drives home that message in his new book Cognitive Productivity.

Released on Leanpub, a Vancouver-based , it's the first research-based book to explain how marrying learning strategies that underlie with learner-friendly technology can make us more cognitively productive.

Drawing on concepts in cognitive science, an interdisciplinary field that encompasses , neuroscience, philosophy, psychology and artificial intelligence, Beaudoin defines cognitive productivity as our mind's ultimate goal. He explains how the -like makeup of not just our brain, but also our mind, inspires that goal.

"The mind is like a sophisticated software program. It is engineered to cognitively process information, turning it into knowledge that we use to solve problems, develop marketable products or better our own lives," explains Beaudoin.

"If we, however, inundate it with information in varying formats, such as PDF files, audiobooks and Ted Talks, without meaningfully encoding and using it, then it will be quickly forgotten and the potential benefits of learning will be lost."

Enlightened by what his own varied career path has taught him about what fosters learning, Beaudoin cites examples of how and learner-unfriendly technology are combining to break down our cognitive productivity.

"Merely skimming and archiving information, which most of us do to try to stay afloat on our sea of information, stymies cognitive productivity," says Beaudoin.

"There's not enough active reading, annotating and harvesting of information gems, which we must then practise recognizing and using if we're to become expert with the knowledge."

Referencing cognitive science-based learning strategies, Beaudoin demonstrates how conveying information in a synced knowledge-environment that incorporates learner-friendly technologies can enhance cognitive productivity.

Some examples of this he says are: "allowing users to annotate all content in the same way, whether it be ebooks, podcasts, web pages, audiobooks or videos, and enabling users to easily create productive practice challenges from any content they read."

Explore further: What makes self-directed learning effective?

Related Stories

What makes self-directed learning effective?

October 4, 2012
In recent years, educators have come to focus more and more on the importance of lab-based experimentation, hands-on participation, student-led inquiry, and the use of "manipulables" in the classroom. The underlying rationale ...

Fast and painless way to better mental arithmetic? Yes, there might actually be a way

May 16, 2013
In the future, if you want to improve your ability to manipulate numbers in your head, you might just plug yourself in. So say researchers who report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 16 on studies of a harmless ...

Learning disabilities affect up to 10 percent of children, study finds

April 18, 2013
Up to 10 per cent of the population are affected by specific learning disabilities (SLDs), such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and autism, translating to 2 or 3 pupils in every classroom according to a new study.

Should grandma join Facebook? It may give her a cognitive boost, study finds

February 19, 2013
Preliminary research findings suggest that learning to use Facebook may help give adults older than 65 a cognitive boost.

New study explains cognitive ability differences among the elderly

June 4, 2013
A new study shows compelling evidence that associations between cognitive ability and cortical grey matter in old age can largely be accounted for by cognitive ability in childhood. The joint study by the Montreal Neurological ...

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.