Learning to Summize?

 

Take a picture of a textbook page and instantly get summaries, analyses, videos, flashcards and annotations.

Source: Summize

I’ve been playing with this new app this morning. It’s … interesting and has caused me to stop and think.

And to think… I had months (if not years) of instruction time at elementary, middle, high school, and college levels training me to summarize, analyze, annotate and make flashcards.

Remember SQ3R? I certainly do.

  • Survey
  • Question
  • Read (R1)
  • Recite (R2)
  • Review (R3)

We had entire classes and tests on “study skills.” Barf. If anything, SQ3R etc made me detest reading textbooks at an early age even more than I already did (which is why I rarely if ever used them as a middle school teacher). Granted, reading and processing a college textbook is much different than reading for pleasure (which is probably one of the reasons why I became a Religion major and find escape from textbooks).

Here’s an example of Summize’s “Bias Analysis” from a page I randomly took from The Practice of Adaptive Leadership:

2016-05-18 09.50.18

It doesn’t get all the words right, but come on… that’s pretty interesting when you consider anyone can do that from their iPhone. This is from the “Concept Analysis” feature, which basically gives you the rundown of a page’s main concepts for review:

2016-05-18 09.56.20

There’s also an automatic flashcard builder or you can snap your own essays and do quick grammar checks. You see where I’m going.

We thought desktops would revolutionize the classroom when I was a kid in the 80’s. Then it was CD-ROMs and laptops in the 90’s. Then it was personal digital assistants in the 00’s. Now we realize that the mobile revolution is the real instigator for substantive technological impact in education.

Mobile is just the beginning as we venture into an augmented / virtual reality world where information will, literally, be on our retinas in the blink of an eye (no fingertips needed this time).

It pains me to consider that concepts and skills such as spelling, punctuation, state capitols, multiplication tables, cursive writing (well, not really that one), lines of Shakespeare etc may not be required to be stored in our brains in the near future … if now. Or perhaps even the larger concepts of knowing how to look at a page of a textbook, get out your various colored highlighters, and go to work summarizing and finding the “main ideas” aren’t requirements for “successful” reading and processing.

Sure, they’re good things to know… but so were knowing star charts, how to hunt skin squirrels, and morse code at one time (not that all three aren’t still very valuable in certain circumstances).

Does this make post-millennials (or whatever we are going to call them) any more “lazy” than the Baby Boomers? I don’t think so. I know plenty of Baby Boomers who decry having to carry a mobile phone yet learn to love FaceTiming their family after a few weeks of doing so.

The older I get, the more I realize that conceptions of required understandings, skills, concepts etc are all in constant flux. Perhaps we benefited someway in the 20th century U.S. by having a rather sturdy monoculture that gave us a clear “common core” roadmap of things that every person of good standing should know and know how to do.

But I’ll take this evolving 21st century realization that normative culture isn’t the best path for the education of our children. Perhaps technological tools can help us rise above the barriers that very real socio-economic barriers of schools and home circumstances that previously segmented our society from the outset and didn’t give many kids the opportunity to “be all that they can be.”

By the way, the Founder of Summize is 18.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s