Impact of Technology on Memory Systems

Many years ago as the district in which I was employed prepared to move to a ‘block schedule’ at the high school level, we had outside speakers who provided training about effective instructional practices in longer blocks of time. The training included some insight into long-term and working memory systems. We learned that somewhere around the age of 14, individuals can handle about 5-7 chunks of information at a time. This was pertinent because obviously trying to ‘cram’ more than that into a lesson without a corresponding processing activity to move the knowledge into a longer-term ‘bucket’ was fruitless.

I was interested to hear David Sousa update this piece of knowledge at a recent conference I had the pleasure of attending. According to David, while it used to be 5-7 chunks that could be held in working memory, it is now 3-4 chunks.

Why the change? Speculation is that kids are now learning WHERE to find information rather than memorizing pieces of knowledge. This change of practice requires fewer cognitive processes.

Good or bad? I guess whether it is good or bad is a moot point. It is the new reality. Educators need to be aware of the ‘new reality’ because instructional practices should be reflective of the most current brain knowledge.

About Deb

I am a lifelong educator with experience in special education, counseling and staff development. Special interests outside of my chosen career field include entrepreneurship, investing and financial literacy.
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2 Responses to Impact of Technology on Memory Systems

  1. Floy Ann Marsh says:

    The word “mute” is incorrectly used in this instance; the correct word is “moot.”

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