In this piece, Slate addresses a subject that often gets left out when discussing education and tech: the physicality of learning. Slate argues that the next important step of integrating technology and mainstream education is to abandon the “sit still and listen” atmosphere of the traditional classroom setting:
This perspective, known as “embodied cognition,” is now becoming a lens through which to look at educational technology. Work in the field shows promising signs that incorporating bodily movements—even subtle ones—can improve the learning that’s done on computers.
For example, Margaret Chan and John Black of Teachers College of Columbia University have shown that physically manipulating an animation of a roller coaster—by sliding the cars up and down the tracks and watching the resulting changes in kinetic and potential energy, as shown in a bar graph—helps students understand the workings of gravity and energy better than static on-screen images and text. This embodied approach to instruction, the authors found, is especially helpful to younger students and to those working on more difficult problems. In counterintuitive domains like physics, bodily rooted learning allows the learner to develop a “feel” for the concept being described, a physical sense that is more comprehensible and compelling than a concept that remains an abstract mental entity.
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