Geez, I can't even go with "Tom K" to differentiate here...OK how about, the piece that Kuhlmann wrote is entitled "Is Google making our e-learning stupid?" and is a play on a piece by Nicholas Carr that appeared in the Atlantic Montly entitled "Is Google making us stupid?" Bear with me, I know its a lot of stage setting.
I had read the piece by Carr (thank goodness his name isn't Tom) and I liked it. What I didn't like was the discussion that seemed to grow out of a bunch of people who didn't even read the article. Anyway, Carr cites Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts who argues that "Reading, is not an instinctive skill for human beings. It”s not etched into our genes the way speech is. We have to teach our minds how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand. And the media or other technologies we use in learning and practicing the craft of reading play an important part in shaping the neural circuits inside our brains." Awesome, of course as an anthropologist/historian, we kind of knew that. We're familiar with the impact that technology has on reading and larger impact that has on society - affecting the way people read is one of the most powerful pressure points in civilization.
Wolf also argues that "When we read online, she says, we tend to become "mere decoders of information." Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged." Now that I have a bit of an issue with. When we start talking about our ability to make rich mental connections, I don't think that has ever been stronger - what has happened (IMHO) is that we have moved that activity from a solitary pursuit to a collaborative one. Just look at the process of writing this post. I read King, then I click and read Kuhlmann, that jogs something and I go to the Carr piece - then I have two more pieces that I'm going to mention that hadn't thought about connecting until now and then I'll hit "publish" and all of this will go public for consumption, comment and so on. So, back to Kuhlmann.
I love what Kuhlmann does is this article. Here is a veteran of elearning and guess what he is talking about? DESIGN! Brilliant observation that if our literacies are changing, e.g. the "power browse", the duh, maybe we should change the way we provide information to people. Let's not forget that eLearning, by definition is "e" so it only stands to reason that maybe we should look to the dominant ways that people consume other forms of "e" materials for clues on how to shape ours. Great stuff! Practical tips as well on the rapid design front.
I do however, want to point to two additional pieces that somehow I have been able to make mental connections between...if you haven't already, read James Paul Gee's book What Video Games Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Important work there on how to understand games as another form of literacy - as you read, just substitute Google for games and you'll get the idea that different may or not be better or worse but it is different and our understanding, our mental models need to change to keep up.
Finally, kind of on the other side of the coin, read "Hamlet's Blackberry: Why paper is eternal" by William Powers. For the anthropologist in me, this article was a clear rejoinder on the power of the physical to affect multiple cognitive and emotional domains.
Wait...I forgot to include "Why Professor Johnny Can't Read: Understanding the Net Generation's Texts" from Mark Mabrito and Rebecca Medley. Takes up an extends Kuhlmann's point and goes from his rapid elearning focus to a focus on education and on the responsibility if not the requirement of teachers to work to understand the texts of next-generation students. Brilliant!
So this was a long post and I'll assume you just skimmed it. :-)