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Choosing the right device

When completing an assignment we need to choose carefully. Both the technology we use, and how we use it. This need not be a cost issue. After all, the latest smartphones and tablets often cost the same as a laptop.

Take completing a written assignment on an undergraduate course. The technology we use will limit the information we access and analyse. A smartphone or tablet is convenient. But is their screen size large enough for us to comprehend the complex graphs and other images embedded in a published research paper? A desktop or laptop computer may be necessary not only to achieve the best image resolution but offer the software we need to create visual notes in the form of mind maps, concept maps or matrices. Put simply, the size and resolution of a screen can constrain the information we seek and how we analyse it. The device we use should be supporting our creativity and critical ability, not limiting them.

A case in point. I was talking with a first-year undergraduate recently about an assignment she was writing on political disinformation (political groups wilfully promoting false information). I was curious to know from where she got her information to write the assignment. She tends to use a smartphone and sometimes a tablet, but rarely a laptop or desktop. This limits what she is able and willing to read.

Whatever our position on political disinformation, we ought to be well informed by going back to original sources, such as research papers, rather than reading convenient summaries that fit on a small screen. I propose we use technology to liberate not constrain us. Which brings me on to AI. But that’s another story …

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