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Is Human Flourishing in the ICT World of the Future Likely?


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The role that information and computing technology (ICT) plays in improving human flourishing is not always clear. This presentation examines current research on one aspect of ICT, namely electronic reading, to demonstrate that in this case the ICT in question may actually diminish flourishing. It begins with an overview of the idea of flourishing in positive psychology, and then presents research on electronic reading comprehension, multitasking and distraction, and online scanning behaviors. The paper then makes an argument about the close connection between reading and flourishing, and then concludes by hypothesizing that mindful‐based reading practices may mitigate some of the worst features of electronic reading.

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Is Human Flourishing in the ICT World of the Future Likely?

  1. 1. IS Human flourishing likely in the ICT WORLD OF THE FUTURE? Evidence from Electronic Reading Research
  2. 2. Randy connolly Professor, dept. computer science Mount royal university Calgary, canada
  3. 3. Janet miller Associate Professor, Dept. student counselling Mount royal university Calgary, canada
  4. 4. Within psychology and philosophy there has been renewed interest in the idea that human life needs not only objective welfare but subjective well-being
  5. 5. The good life as a concept has redeveloped into the related idea of been Human flourishing
  6. 6. S l Surely ICT ICTi improves Human flourishing
  7. 7. the role that ICT has played in the transformation of a key part of human flourishing:
  8. 8. Surely ICT+reading (Internet, eBooks) has improved human flourishing!
  9. 9. However it is always a mistake “to assess the impact of a technology on the basis of inference from capabilities instead of on the basis of evidence”
  10. 10. If we do examine the evidence we will see that the intrusion of ICT into reading is NOT improving human flourishing but doing the opposite
  11. 11. flourishing?
  12. 12. Eudaimonism True well-being (eudaimonia) is achieved when an individual lives a life in which he or she strives to develop and perfect their capabilities within a context of objective welfare
  13. 13. flourishing is a measure of an individual’’s judgments about their functioning in life rather than just their feelings towards life .
  14. 14. flourishing Within positive psychology flourishing has been subjected to experimental investigation and there does appear to be mounting evidence that eudaimonic flourishing is a vital constituent of both happiness and mental health .
  15. 15. Flourishing and ICT Evidence from reading research
  16. 16. electronic Reading comprehension
  17. 17. Are there differences in the reading experience between paper and ? p p screen?
  18. 18. There is evidence that YES readers’ comprehension levels are significantly lower when reading materials on the screen in comparison to reading paper materials
  19. 19. DeStefano, D., & LeFevre, J. A. (2007). Cognitive load in hypertext reading: A review. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3). Eveland Jr, W. P., & Dunwoody, S. (2001). User control and structural isomorphism or disorientation and cognitive load?: Learning from the web versus print. Communication Research, 28(1). Liu, Z. (2005). Reading behavior in the digital environment. Journal of Documentation, 61(6). Macedo-Rouet, M., Rouet, J. F., Epstein, I., & Fayard, P. (2003). Effects of online reading on popular science comprehension. Science Communication, 25(2). k Ackerman, R., & Lauterman, T. (2 2) 2012). ki Taking di reading h i comprehension exams on screen or on paper? A metacognitive analysis of learning texts under time pressure. Computers in Human , Behavior28(5) Ji, S. W., Michaels, S., & Waterman, D. (2014). Print vs. electronic readings i ll C t ffi i d i d l i Th I t t in college courses: Cost-efficiency and perceived learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 21. Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Brønnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research.
  20. 20. Why are comprehension levels lower?
  21. 21. Scanning while Consuming electronic text
  22. 22. Research into actual behavior when consuming text online provides clear explanation for diminished comprehension
  23. 23. Early research into web usability quickly uncovered a very important fact about how people actually read on the web
  24. 24. How long do you spend visiting a web page? You’re looking at the answer
  25. 25. The evidence for this is very strong It has been empirically verified via server records, eye tracking in labs, and f y g monitoring software.
  26. 26. The science for this is very well validated empirically Users are reading at best 20% of the text on a web page.
  27. 27. Are academics any different?
  28. 28. Reading time: Paper 10-15 min
  29. 29. Reading time: acrobat pdf 1-2 min
  30. 30. users rarely have even remotely accurate insight into their actual scanning behaviors
  31. 31. Academic’s self-assessment of their pdf reading time 5-10 min
  32. 32. multitasking and distraction
  33. 33. One absolutely vital feature of most current electronic reading devices is that they contain within them substantial potential for distractibility.
  34. 34. This potential distractibility lowers comprehension levels and lowers task completion probabilities.
  35. 35. It is becoming progressively more common for people to multitask, especially in regards to different media technologies.
  36. 36. Who cares? Some have argued that younger digital generation can multitask successfully
  37. 37. The evidence tells a different story
  38. 38. Junco, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59(2), Brasel, S. A., & Gips, J. (2011). Media multitasking behavior: Concurrent 505-514. l i i d C b h l h i d Bowman, L. L., Levine, L. E., Waite, B. M., & Gendron, M. (2010). Can students really multitask? an experimental study of instant messaging while reading. Computers & Education, 54 (4) television and computer usage. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(9). Yeykelis, L., Cummings, J. J., & Reeves, B. (2014). Multitasking on a Levine, L. E., Waite, B. M., & Bowman, L. L. (2012). Mobile media use, multitasking and distractibility. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning (IJCBPL), 2(3), 15-29. y , , g , , , g single device: Arousal and the frequency, anticipation, and prediction of switching between media content on a computer. Journal of Communication Ophir, E., Nass, C., & Wagner, A. D. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(37) i d Fried, C C. B. (2 ) 2008). In-l class l laptop use and di its ff effects on d student l i learning. Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers & Education, 62. Rubinstein, J. S., Meyer, D. E., & Evans, J. E. (2001). Executive control of Computers & Education, 50(3), cognitive processes in task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27(4) Aguilar-Roca, N. M., Williams, A. E., & O'Dowd, D. K. (2012). The impact of l t f t d t f d ttit d i l l t laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures. Computers & Education, 59 (4) Lee, Y., & Wu, J. (2012). The effect of individual differences in the inner and outer states of ICT on engagement in online reading activities and PISA Wood, E., Zivcakova, L., Gentile, P., Archer, K., De Pasquale, D., & Nosko, A. (2012). Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning. Computers & Education, 58(1). 2009 reading literacy: Exploring the relationship between the old and new reading literacy. Learning and Individual Differences, 22 (3) Judd, T., & Kennedy, G. (2011). Measurement and evidence of computer-based task switching and multitasking by ‘Net generation’ students. Computers & Education, 56 (3),
  39. 39. the evidence is very consistent Heavy media multitaskers (of any age) have lower grades, less self-regulation, lower motivation levels, and lowered learning
  40. 40. So is this just something that only those young kids are doing?
  41. 41. How frequently will this person switch her attention between devices?
  42. 42. About every 2 to 5 seconds Attention lengths of 5 seconds for laptop, and 2 seconds for TV
  43. 43. Multi-tasking on one device? Task switch happens about every 19 seconds
  44. 44. Are we aware of how frequently we task switch?
  45. 45. Test subjects underestimated their attention switches by
  46. 46. In An overview of the evidence researchers concluded that the availability of ICT at home had a direct and negative impact on reading literacy (even after controlling for other factors)
  47. 47. Every task switch when multitasking has a measurable cognitive time cost.
  48. 48. Since we seem to be increasing our preference for frequent task switching over sustained attention,
  49. 49. we are spending more and more of our cognitive processing handling ICT task switching, which is measurably degrading cognitive performance and efficiency
  50. 50. Flourishing and reading So what’s the connection?
  51. 51. Critical thinking is essential to human flourishing ….
  52. 52. …. and the evidence about comprehension, distractibility, and scanning all point to a Decrease in critical thinking
  53. 53. Critical thinking?
  54. 54. scanning multitasking
  55. 55. We worry that we are in the midst of a vicious cycle.
  56. 56. As we become more and more distracted by our ICT, our reading comprehension declines more and more, and thus our ability to self-assess our comprehension and self-regulate our attention, diminishes more and more …
  57. 57. Can we do?
  58. 58. There is cause for hope. critical thinking skills are teachable, and once learned, they can be effectively employed even in an online world. We believe that these skills are the key to human flourishing in the ICT environment.
  59. 59. Do we do this?
  60. 60. philosophy
  61. 61. critical thinking must be learned through actively engaging students in the investigation of information
  62. 62. And by forcing students to read for depth, which is a slower, less distracted form of reading.
  63. 63. the field of Positive psychology (which has been focused on the idea of human flourishing) can also be of help.
  64. 64. Mindfulness refers to a state of being attentive to what is taking place in the present.
  65. 65. Empirical evidence links Mindfulness to less distraction, more focus, and more deliberation in completing tasks.
  66. 66. is this almost over?
  67. 67. Is flourishing in the ICT world of the future likely? Well, it depends.
  68. 68. Ict flourishing will become only a marketing fantasy if we continue in the present way …
  69. 69. However, if we are aware of the true nature of online reading and its limitations, and we return printed paper from the dustbins of history ….
  70. 70. And if we make concerted efforts to be mindful while reading, to employ higher-level critical thinking skills and to apply intellectual standards of assessment to evaluate what we are reading, then flourishing is likely to become more attainable.
  71. 71. Thank you Janet miller Randy connolly