I’ve been interested in the physical affect on our brain from the use of technology. I don’t want to get too immersed in the details, but an important part of our memory is something known as ” long term potentiation” Link which basically states that the more we use a connection between memories (or neurons), the more significant the memories are to us. So if we don’t use connections in the brain as much because we can use technology to find important information, then the pathways in our brain are physically changing or rewiring. This goes back to an earlier conversation about not remembering phone numbers because we have them stored in our smart phones. We don’t rely on the simple path of, “what is the number for Sam”, but we now rely on a different (and I would argue much more complex) path of, “how do I work this device to get the number for Sam”.
When I first read about Siemen’s Theory of Connectivism I immediately thought of this model of how memory works. It’s not so much about how I learn simple facts, but technology has changed it to the more complex question of how do I learn to connect to outside sources of information so that I can know the fact, plus the history of it, or the origination of the word, or any number of related topics if I decide they are important to me. It becomes less important that I know the fact, and more important for me to know how I connect to a reliable source for the fact. And the more often I use certain connections, the more significant they are to me. Or as Siemens stated, “Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)” Link.