What is Dual Coding?

The following video describes dual coding theory as well as cognitive load. The point of the video is briefly explain the main concepts around this theory. For more in depth analysis I would suggest the literature and in fact I will post some that I have written. Also, here is the image I used in the video if anyone would like to use it (for educational purposes citing me of course).


dual coding



Are we overestimating technology use in younger generations?

For this piece, I am speaking about the current undergraduate – 18-22 year old in college, and not computer science majors. My experience is mostly with education and communication majors. Having taught at two different universities in the last several years, and teaching many technology classes, I have had a lot of experience with students of this age their perceptions and experience with technology. So…

I think we believe these students are inundated with technology, are experts, and all have new iPhones. What I am finding in my classes is quite the opposite. Here are my observations:

The students are not inundated with technology in their classes. In fact, many come to my technology classes with a little anxiety because they are going to have to use the computer in new ways. What I find is that many of my students are comfortable using Word and Powerpoint. They can check email and do basic web searches using Google. When I ask who has heard of Google Docs, maybe 1% of the class raises their hands. And this isnt just Google Docs, this goes for many Web 2.0 technologies with the exception of Facebook. Do these students all have new iPhones? I find that in general, less than 50% of my students have smartphones.  In fact, some have hand me down smart phones from their parents. None have ipads but a few have used them because their parents might have one. All of my students have laptops. None have standard desktops. This is not surprising as the cost of laptops has decreased a lot in the last few years. A portion do have Macs which are more expensive.

So what does this all mean? I believe it means that these students are not using every new gadget that comes out. They do not have the money to buy the latest smart phones. And they are not tech experts, in fact, they are just as nervous about new technology as older generations in my opinion. Now will this change? I believe so. I have observed the current elementary/middle school students doing significantly more with technology in the classroom. So I believe in the next 5-10 years the undergrads will be much more technology driven than the current generation.

Having said all of that, there are the students that remind me of myself. They make it a priority to have the latest and greatest. They can recite every popular web 2.0 technology and read blogs such as mashable daily. But these are not the norm. These are the techies:)

Why computer labs are dying

When I was a kid, I used to love walking into the computer lab for computer class. We used to play Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail. It was neat to learn that I could do an activity using technology. We had Apple IIe computers and if you were lucky you had a Mac. In college it was more of the same except I wanted to see my colleges computer labs have the latest and greatest hardware and web development software like the Adobe (then macromedia suite). I was so disappointed that they only upgraded their computer every 4+ years. That’s crazy I thought. Computers are done in 2 years. Then again public education has always been underfunded so it was not really surprising.

Now in todays climate with current budgets, I am guessing computers will be upgraded every 6 or so years. Obviously its not even worth having a computer lab is you cannot keep it up. So my solution:

LETS GET RID OF COMPUTER LABS IN ALL K-16 PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Yep you heard me right. Let’s get rid of them. Now I am not saying lets get rid of computer education. Quite the contrary, I just have another solution. Computer education is probably one of the best skills students of all ages can have. For instance, when I started working in the corporate sector after I completed my masters degree, the company I worked for expected me to fully understand MS Powerpoint, word, excel, and visio. What I didnt expect was that they also expected me to make graphics and use a database among other things and this was for a general business job. It was not a computer oriented job. So yea, those computer skills were extremely helpful. Fortunately for me, I am a tech guy, so it was easy to do all of those tasks.

Anyway, so what is my suggestion:

Get rid of computer labs and create a cloud based network. Thus students would be required to all have their own computers (mac or pc would not matter). They would come into a regular classroom and log in to the cloud network where all of their software and files would be. That way the school would just need to keep up the cloud and keep up the software updates – most of which they do now. They would no longer be required to use their funds for computers that are quickly outdated and would not need to waste the computer technicians time fixing half of the labs computers each day because students put viruses or whatever on them. Now students and parents would be responsible for their own computers. This would also be a huge advantage for the student. Now they would not need to worry about working on a computer, forget to save the file, only to find it deleted when they come back the next day. I cannot tell you how many students lose their projects because they are working on a school computer. Anyway, I believe this is where we are headed and it is a solution to better our labs and save schools money that they already do not have. And if for some reason US schools do get properly funded as they are in many nations across world, I would still call for this change.