Human Memory and the Limits of Technology in Education

Katherine Puddifoot, Cian O'Donnell

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Human memory systems perform various functions beyond simple storage and retrieval of information. They link together information about events, build abstractions, and perform memory updating. In contrast, typical information storage and access technologies, such as note-taking applications and Wikipedia, tend to store information verbatim. In this article, we use results from cognitive psychology, neuroscience and machine learning to argue that the increased dependence on such technologies in education may come at a price: the missed opportunity for memory systems of student learners to form abstractions and insights from newly learned information. This conclusion has important implications for how technologies should be adopted in education.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Theory
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018


  • Human memory
  • Education
  • Educational technology


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