The digital age has put more information within our grasp than ever before in History. While in many ways this is hugely empowering for students in Higher Education, it also potentially presents quite a serious challenge to their learning process. The era of ubiquitous content is changing the role of educators too, as we need to help students contextualise and critically evaluate the many sources of information with which they are now presented.
In the distant, pre-internet past, there was less information within easy reach. ‘Searching’ often meant going to the Library and hunting through the bookshelves. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that being less inundated with resources perhaps made it easier for students to critique the sources of information at their disposal.
But in an age where information is so readily available there is a danger that a student will aim to try and find the article or blog post that best represents their own opinion, rather than taking the time to reflect and formulate an opinion. As a PhD student myself I am all too often guilty of this, it’s much easier to keep searching for that one article that sums everything up perfectly than to write it yourself.
There is a danger that ease of access to information could create a generation of students who aren’t sufficiently inclined or equipped to challenge existing knowledge. This increased passivity is arguably being facilitated by the ability of technology to make all the information we could ever want available on demand. So what can we do about it?
One possible strategy is to place critique and questioning at the centre of the learning process. Creating regular opportunities for students to formulate, share and justify their opinions is increasingly important if they are to survive being drowned in a sea of content.
The above 6C model is very much a work in progress, but it represents my first attempt at developing a digital pedagogy which responds to the problem of ‘information overload’. Students 1) consume information about a topic from multiple sources. They 2) compare these sources, then 3) critique and question them in order to assess their relative worth. Students then 4) curate those sources which they judge to be of value, and 5) create a piece of content in which they give their own opinion about the topic. Finally, they 6) collaborate with their network by sharing their resource, inviting comments and discussion which oblige them to justify their position.
Does this model work for you? What would you add / remove / change?