We live in a world that is completely saturated with information. Whether we are creating or consuming, the internet has become a massive storehouse of information that is constantly in formation. A colleague of mine, Scott McLeod (follow him on twitter), co-authored a series of videos called, "Shift Happens" which, among other things, call to light the rapid pace of our quest to be informed. 2006 experienced 2.7 billion searches per month, and in 2008 it was at 31 billion. Comedian Pete Homles said humorously, "We know everything. Google, wait two seconds and you will know." With this wealth of information comes a great responsibility for us as educators to help our students effectively and efficiently navigate, filter, and process information as aspiring life-long learners. Since Information Literacy is not just about access, but assessment, one of the best ways to help students develop Information Literacy skills is by showing them a model of this process. Once upon a time, Wikipedia was a near curse word in the classroom. Today, it is one of the leading organizers of information. Through the lens of Wikipedia, students can be exposed to various levels of information quality. For example, when searching "Information Literacy," further reading suggests that the article was built from sources in academia, government, and education think tanks. The page also begins with an interesting disclaimer; "The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject." This adds another element into the challenge of Information Literacy. It's not enough to just access information, or even to verify its authenticity. A new challenge is to understand how information gives us the ability to connect as a global community and how communities differ in the value and perspective of information.
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Humankind loves information. Its the strongest stimulant in the world, 100% legal, and has no known cure for addiction. Since the dawn of civilization we have been on a quest fill the capacity of our mind, yet science finds that even the things we "forget" don't actually leave our brain. (Article)
Fast forward a few millennia and in comes the industrial revolution, where humanity is rocketed forward in productivity and efficiency. These innovative breakthroughs left the world with a lot of time to think. This thinking developed into structured pursuits of learning, notability the Industrialization of Education. (You can watch an amazing video about this from Ken Robinson who is not only more qualified to talk about the subject, but more witty as well.)
Fast forward to the 21st century, and we see that technology has once again revolutionized our lives. Twenty years ago you graduated high school and did one of three things: go to college, learn a trade, or join the army. You then spent the next two decade or so in the same job, hoping that with time you would rise up the chain of command at the same company. Now we go to college and graduate in a discipline we will never utilize, and will have at least eight jobs before we turn forty. At least thats what the internet says.
So were does that leave us? While we still need to educate ourself and find meaning in work, technology is giving us not only a massive reservoir of information, but
a voice, and the quest for connection.
The desire to connect is engrained in our DNA. Its part of the essence of our soul and is rooted in the source of creation, G-d himself. Forgot I was a Rabbi for a second right? Our revolutionary success in making machines that work for us, and making production speeds almost instant, has left us with
a tremendous amount of time for creativity, connection, and collaboration which sometimes leads to creatively connected collaboration.
Five years ago an educator could connect online via a handful of education websites, blogs, and the occasional forum. Our connection was limited to website updates and their frequency, or isolated user generated forum postings. Even with the wealth of information on the internet, we were still limited.
The launch of Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, completely redefine connection. Our ability to connect to like minded and inspired educators throughout the world yearning to share, to learn, and to connect. I once had an educator tell me they
learn more from their PLN on Twitter than their entire Masters degree program.
The connection is an open ended one. It's what you do with it. Sharing your projects, reaching out for help, or just absorbing the inspiration of #edchat can give anyone looking for a connection something meaningful.