Friday, March 20, 2009

Ouch! I'm having visual cortex growing pains!

Thanks to Carol Soma for her presentation at the Library Technology Conference yesterday. Carol spoke about how the brains of our younger generations are developing differently, in large part due to the amount of multimedia they are exposed to. Some interesting factoids that came out of her presentation:

  • The visual cortex in brains today are 20% than they were 20 years ago

  • Kids today are attracted to certain bright colors while ignoring black and white

  • A study of young kids watching Sesame Street found that those who played while watching retained as much information as those who only watched

  • Studies show that people master skills that they spend 10,000 hours practicing.

  • Kids spend 10,000 hours playing video games, using cellphones, watching tv

  • Less than 5,000 hours reading

These are fascinating facts. What do they mean for education? We can discuss the implications of our changing brains. There is no question that there are benefits as well as detriments to these adaptations. But it is equally important for us to discuss how our teaching must change to address these changes.

If kids remember things better when they are visually presented, how can we present more information in this way?

If kids respond better to certain colors, how can we present information in ways that are more attractive to them?

How can we use technology to encourage more reading? Deeper reading?

What is the appropriate level of multitasking among our students to allow for their style of learning while still promoting deeper reflection?


  1. The research has been around several years now that using visuals is a better way for studentst to understand information. I here is the link to a presentation I did. Check out the resources.