Finding and Evaluating Information in a Hyperconnected World

The words 'Information Overload' are being filtered through a sieve to become Information
Photo Credit: Information Overload by verbeeldingskr8

In your discussion on Educational Trends you reflected on new ways of creating, sharing and understanding information that the read/write web affords us now as described by Tim O’Reilly in Dan Gillmor’s We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People. In George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger’s March 2009 Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning, the authors suggest that our relationship with information has changed significantly, that “what once involved mediators and experts (journals, books, encyclopaedias) can now be handled informally through the aggregated actions of many (Wikipedia, blogs, ebooks).” They go on to describe the new literacies and key skills our learners must possess to successfully navigate, evaluate and participate in a hyperconnected, information-saturated world.

Based on your own experiences and your readings thus far, how does this resonate with you? In what ways have these technologies made an impact on you as an educator and as a student?

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17 Responses to “Finding and Evaluating Information in a Hyperconnected World”

  1. edadedebas Says:

    Julie Coiro’s article “Making Sense of Online Text” discusses the main aspects of helping students and teachers to read and filter useful information in an online text. In this study, her focus is on elementary school students and teachers. She starts her discussion by claiming that reading an online text requires a different/a new understanding of literacy, continues by listing 4 challenges that the students might face and suggests solutions/in-class activities to increase an awareness of online literacy.

    The first challenge is the question of search titled under “Which Link Should I Follow?”. Coiro prepares a sample in-class activity for elementary school students to evaluate the web sites and choose the appropriate one relevant to their research. In the sample activity, she finds out that the students are not tech-savvy and do not really know about very basic terms such as “search engine”. The second challenge is the problem of navigation within the web site. Her research finds show that the students need to be taught how to navigate through a web site. The third challenge is the critical evaluation and authenticity. In order to ease the problem, she suggests a “Think and Check” activity asking students to google the author’s name, check the sources from where the text comes from. She aims to create an awareness of originality and truth. Finally, she aims to solve the problem of synthesizing information by providing an in-class activity for teachers. In this activity, the students are asked to copy and paste from the website together with the sources and write their reports/discussions through synthesizing the materials.

    Coiro’s article reminded me of the video we watched last week about the interviews conducted with the students of University of Minnesota. The 6th graders and their teachers seem to know or are proud to announce that they are tech-savvy. However, as the research shows, they need to know the ways in which they can sort out an abundance of information. Moreover, her article helped me re-think the internet-based search in two ways: As a teacher, I can definitely follow different versions of the in-class activities she suggests. Of course, they need to be adapted for college students. In the research assignments, filtering out information is very significant and it is important to be able to see whether college students do really know about how to access knowledge more accurately. As a learner, I can, perhaps, still learn from and develop Coiro’s examples and re-think about my competence in web-based search.

    • soledadre Says:

      Yes, when reading your summary I was also remembering the video. We really need to learn and guide our students in the use of these new technologies and tools. They/We may think they are experts because they are born surrounded by them, but that’s not true. They do a quite superficial use of new technologies, we need to open their/our mind. In that way, we can promote a better learning and a better understanding of the new literacy that you comment. This new way of reading, of accessing to information, undoubtedly requires new skills. It is not just a piece of paper, it is much more. When we approach online texts, we can be exposed to multiple channels in a very short time: reading, watching, hearing or even writing/speaking (as in chats and blogs). Therefore, students also need to be trained in these new ways, trying to make them get as much profit as possible of the possibilities at hand. As a student, I’m quite interested for my research projects in the challenge “Which link should I follow?”, but I haven’t understood quite well the advice that the author gives, could you explain them a little bit further? Thanks!!

      • edadedebas Says:

        Thanks for responding. Sorry for the confusion. I will try to explain the first activity. In “Which Link Should I Follow?”, Coiro aims to helps the 6th graders to sort out the information they have found on the search engine. For instance, if they wrote “Sumerian cuneiform” in the search engine box, they should be able to understand which link they should follow. Coiro gives them a short activity introducing URL and the suggests that we ask students to check how many different web sites came out after the search. The activity asks students to read the key words in the URL. Coiro observed that some students just click on the links and are unable to go back to the main page. Also, they cannot differentiate between a trustworthy site and non-trustworthy one. I hope it helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hi Eda,
          Your article is very interesting indeed because expresses two main points which are important for this week topic.
          1st We need to guide our students indeed. As the video from the University of Minnesota was showing all our students even if they come from the ‘digital’ area use the technology according to their needs. Just like everybody so I beleive we need to structure organize courses where they need to learn using some rechnology. I am saying some because we should not overload this delicate learning process but making it useful important for their studies. The same importance that we all give to email for example this is why EVERYONE can use email nowadays.
          2nd point is to help them to filter information and understand whether they are refereces which could be trusted on or not. I have already expressed this concept in our last face to face lesson and I don’t mind to reapet it because it’s key for us. As student as we are will shortly beinvolved in research, as educators as we want to show and teach the skill to study efficiently to our students so that they know how to use the internet resource well.
          Do you all agree with that? Eda were these the two main points in a nutshell of the article you have read? If not please say it so we all understand it even better!

  2. soledadre Says:

    So many information around us, so many things to read… Dawn Foster knows about it so he gives some “Tips for Handling Information Overload: Too Much Content”. In this case, Fosters focuses in handling the online information to which we are exposed everyday. He speaks about three main mechanisms to reduce all the amount of data into the most relevant content. First, he speaks about RSS reader (Google Reader, Netvibes) as newspaper-like tools for reading just what you want to read, where you can get rid of the feeds you never read and organize feeds with folders. Second, News Aggregation (Twitter Time, Techmeme) can help you to find some new sources of info –for instance, taking links from people you follow on Twitter. Finally, he speaks about Filtering RSS feeds (Yahoo Pipes), it could take some time but it is worthy, telling you when someone speaks about you or about the topics you are more interested in.
    I think all those tools are important, but we still have the same problem:time. To be able to explain it to you I went to Google Reader and I subscribed to Education, Literature and News. Later I reduced the feeds inside those categories but, even though, I still had too many links… I closed the window. I guess the filters are there, I just need the time to find them and use them.
    At the end of the article, Foster says “read what you can and don’t stress about what you don’t have time to read”. Maybe, he is not studying a Master/PhD in Uconn, because I really worry about what I don’t have time to read!!!

    The article “What life is like for the class of 2015” by Rob Baxter focuses in the Mindset List that, since 1998, is being created in the Beloit College (Wisconsin).Ron Nief, its creator, realized that these new technology-surrounded generations saw and see things differently, their experiences are different. Therefore, the Mindset List wants to reflect the students’ world view. As Tom McBride says the important point is “what students can put in context in relation to today’s events”. I completely agree with this project, we need to provide our students with good references to be able to build new knowledge. We can’t expect our students to learn from the unknown to the unknown. Therefore, it is quite interesting to analyze the way they think, the things they live, the life around them… and from that point, helping them to learn new references and learning ourselves the new references of the 21st century… At this point, I want to ask you something, do you think our references are so far away from our students’ ones? In your opinion, are those references really a key point for building new knowledge?

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Soledad,
      Thanks for sharing the summaries of both articles. I find the first article very interesting. I think it answers some of the questions I, and perhaps most of us, have been dealing with. How can we filter the overload of information? I think my summary of Julie Corio’s article leads us to a way. She also suggests certain methods to filter information. But I think, the best way to start is to evaluate our own competence in handling the overload of information. I skimmed through the second article and they are right. When I refer to something in class, I sometimes have the feeling that I have to update myself more frequently. 🙂 I think we use different references with other students. But we can always find a way in-between.

      • soledadre Says:

        Yes, lots of times it happens to me that I say something that I have in my mind, then look at them, and I understand they have no clue of what I’m speaking about or why I’m smiling… time pass too fast!! It’s “just” ten years of difference with some of my students in high school but I really feel the gap. That’s why I think the idea of up-dating references is a good one to keep in mind as teachers. At least for me, references were and are a great way for getting me involved and remembering the data explained through that reference; well,obviously, it depends on the reference, but good ones (those understood by the audience) can be of real help.

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hi Sole and Eda,

          Great comments! Sole your summary was very interesting and I would like to start with the first one saying that I exactly feel the same about not having time to read all. This causes me stress and I believe now that I am analyzing somehow my process of filtering (or also not filtering sometimes) information from internet can be due to this stress that the owerload of information gives me. Filtering becomes essential nowaday it’s not a tool we may decide to use or not it must be learned and used. Than I guess I should start working in my approach to information understanding that it’s not phisically possible to get to know all the material available online. I say material on purpose as we do not only have reading but also video, enitre books sometime scholars articles and so on. It is really a lot and we need to face it. Sole you are also right when you talk about studying in one of our program but the secret I beleive is the one we are experiemnting right now, sharing. When we know that we can’t get to do all the reading we should share obviously with pepole we know are very motivating eithe rin studying and also in sharing so that the result of this sharing is going to be good.

          For the second article I like it too because it gives a point of view which I had never thought of to be honest. Are the reference of my students too far from mine? Well personally when I teach I always consider myself as if I was one of the student to really understand if the load of work is ok but above all if it is EFFICIENT. My experienc up to now have seen me as a language teacher only so I always present the language in a context I mean in a real and daily use. DOing this I also talk to my students what is the best way to learn it. I constantly say that they can’ memorize words but can memorize sentences only after they understood the structure in its context. I obviously provide example before syaing to them this concept and usually express it in a more explicit way too. However have to say it works and from today I am going to add this new question to my teaching am I giving them some reference they can learn from? It’s an ongoing process which never ends and this is why I like it!

  3. rosariopollicino Says:

    Social Bookmarking and Annotating;
    In the large amount of information that we have to manage and filter bookmarking find its important role. Bookmark does not only mean to select as a favourite site putting it together with the other site which we find interesting but also to have access to those from any computer around the world as long as we have an internet connection available. This concept must always be linked to what we have been discussing up to now so bookmarks and tags can be shared as our selection could be interesting to someone else. On the other hand we could also benefit from somebody else bookmarks or in its general selection.

    In a nutshell this is a quicker way to have access to material which we find interesting without being obliged to google it. Now we have moved a step forward not only in managing information but also in looking for those as through bookmarks we have more selected choice in the field we are researching information from. Another important concept with bookmarking is the ‘collective intelligence in action’ which means that by visiting and highlighting a particular source better its credibility as a valuable source is so we definitely know whether take those information as extremely serious or not.

    Is this bookmarking directly related to us as language instructors and then educators or as students? Of course yes, in either way as we can share and research as educators getting in contact with bookmarks form peers and colleague or simply researching and study as a student still looking for very important material. Another activity is getting engaged around text which have been highlighted in order to simply discuss or having clarifications.
    Bookmarking in my opinion is much more than selecting and sharing a selection of a particular material but can definitely turn into a dynamic virtual learning environment. What you all think? Do you like bookmarking?

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Rosario,

      Thank you for summary. Personally, I like bookmarking but I have not been familiar with Diigo or Delicious. I use the traditional method. Saving in on my computer 🙂 Also, I would like to add one more use of social bookmarking. It is possible to demonstrate students how to use bookmarking sites and start bookmarking sites which they may need for the class. Then again, they can share their bookmarked pages with their classmates. This might create a more interactive environment. Does the article you discuss give any examples of practical uses of bookmarking?

  4. rosariopollicino Says:

    Hi Eda,

    In the article I read there were not directly indications about practical use of bookmarking but at the end of the page there are a few links which actually give directions either to students and to teachers for the use of Diigo for example.
    To be honest I am in your same situation I like bookmarking I like its idea and believe this will make my life much easier either as an educator and as a student. However, I need time to get to know it well and eventually i will.
    We could actually start sharing our personal experiences as soon as we all have some time to experiment them. what do you think?
    I also like the idea you have expressed of collaborative learning when we teach. In my experience I noticed students come to class for all the semester and finish attending that class without even knowing each other how are they supposed to collaborate? I made this discussion to my students and something has already changed, very little but I can see people helping each other and this is a little step forward for me.

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Rosario,

      Thank you for the comment. I agree with you that we need to make more effort with bookmarking and with making the students get to know each other. Actually, this semester I am teaching at Torrington campus and it is a very small community. Interestingly, the students know each other and I do not know them. I am learning a lot from them. I introduced them the Writing Center and then later realized that they already know all the tutors 🙂 I definitely think that we should start calling them co-learners, instead of students. Take a look at article summary I posted for this week

  5. Barbara Says:

    I’m curious to what extent our current teaching and learning environments exploit these socially mediated technologies. In what ways does this networked platform maintain existing educational paradigms or disrupt them? If information is abundant, easily accessible and contextualized, what role, if any, should educators play?

  6. rosariopollicino Says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Personally I don’t believe our teaching and learning environment uses the technologies to the best of its extension. This is because we still need to change the ‘culture’ which we have in learning and educating understanding concepts like broadening the teaching material. This means we can start books however it should not limited to it. It would be good to have just a general book of reference (not to overload students) to start with and then teach our students to look for information to select them to filter them and to bookmark them. We should introduce the culture in sharing and let people (students and educators) understand that collaborating is an easier, nicer and more interesting way of learning effectively. In this sense maybe the networked paradigms really changes the current educational paradigms however I would not use ‘disrupt’ because it’s a smooth changing which is implementing little by little. I am curious too Barbara,I am curious to see where this process with Web 2.0 will take us but above all to see what role we can all play in our micro teaching and learning world as I believe all big changes start from a small cell.

  7. marineuconn Says:

    Accessibility vs. access: How the rhetoric of “rare” is changing in the age of information abundance, by Maria Popova.
    Up to the last decades, information discovery had mainly two barriers: awareness (you need to be aware that this piece of information exists) and accessibility. The digital convergence has eliminated this second barrier by bringing unaccessible information into the public domaine. However, information abundance and its easy access can prevent us from putting further efforts to deal with this information: when we stumble upon an incredible piece of information such as unpublished manuscripts, “it tickles our fancy, perhaps we bookmark it, perhaps we save it to Delicious or Instapaper, perhaps we take a quick skim, but more likely than not, we shove it into some cognitive corner and fail to spend time with it, exploring and learning, assuming that it’s just there, available and accessible anytime.”Despite Google’s dream of “universally accessible” information, some valuable and now accessible information (cf Flickr commons ) remains unaccessed by the public. The digital humanities may offer unpublished manuscripts, they remain for the use of a small group of scholars.
    The way pages appear on a google search is based on how many people have accessed these pages and not on the information value. To select information, digital archivists and content currators are efficient but not sufficient, Maria Popova argues: “curiosity is the gateway to access,” (…) “otherwise, the most abundant and accessible information can remain tragically “‘rare’”.

    I would also add patience and knowledge of the online information sorters. The article’s relevance struck me. The more information one’s have, the more motivation one’s needs to make one’s way through it. Information scarcity how we knew it in the past (rare = value = raise my interest) is no longer an input… because it no longer exists! However, the “rare” still exists, it is no longer defined by its potential access but by the its real access.

  8. loisramirez Says:

    William Rankin discusses in his article The iPad and Information’s Third Age, how the Ipad may have a potential revolutionary impact on our age of technology. He briefly discusses the history of the book, from the hand-written texts, that were acquired only by the rich or those that had a access to libraries (he points out this was only for very few priviledge people since apparently the libraries were private and not public). By this time learning was more of a one on one method were the student’s would shadow the teacher; education during this time was more exclusive than inclusive. After the invention of the Gutenberg press , the book allowed for information to spread in a wider range. The abundance of information also caused a problem; since there was so much information it was necessary to catalogue it. At this point education took a different route, since the information was so abundant, the classroom was created in order to avoid further distractions. The teachers began to filter or as Rankin says “standardized” the information being given to the students. Creating once again a limitation despite the abundance of information.
    According to Rankin, Apple’s Ipad has opened the flood gates to a new learning/teaching revolution. He claims that the easiness of the Ipad platform simplifies the operation and access of the information. The Ipad utilizes the sense of touch to access and manipulate the information; which leaves aside the complexity of the vocabulary related to an interface (think windows, linux, leopard,etc). Ipad is more accessible to other learning communities, which in terms can not only benefit from its usage but also contribute to it.
    Imagine not only being able to read a book, but have immediate access to the information being described in the text in a different way (pictures, video, etc). At the same time that you are reading you can collaborate with other learning communities by sharing your thoughts about the book or simply translating it in another language. This is what makes the Ipad a potential game changer, since it merges the media available to us at this time into an easy to use all-in-one system.
    What does worry me is that there is no real competition with the Ipad, and as we see Apple is very zealous of the information available in their App store. The limitation now goes back to the same issue before Gutenberg’s revolution, a monetary issue and proprietary limitations. We need more competition in order to be able to achieve the potential that Rankin sees on media of this type.

    • marineuconn Says:

      Hello Lois, I find it very interesting and funny that a silmilar “crisis” in the information world happened in the XVth-XVIth century as well!
      I totally agree with you, “real competition with the iPad” is needed. Our lives will be more and more “connected” to the online world. This is great progress on many aspects, yet I also have some concerns.To be a student now means to share knowledge with a community of practice (of learning/teaching) and learning from/with it. Technology enables this type of learning more than ever. On the other hand, to be a student also means spending time by yourself, with books (printed or online). So yes, we learn by sharing but we also learn by staying focus for hours and study on our own, far from the classroom and the professor. I am just saying that this whole transformation might prevent us from still having enough time and motivation to spend to this personal study-time. In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing this iPad revolution!


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