Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Open Knowledge: Week 10

Information Overload and More

This has been a useful week of learning on Information Overload, Filter Failure and Information Literacy.   The problem with overload is not all that new.   There is so much to learn.  This course has also been a case of ‘information overload’ and I have seen a few comments from people who have become lost in the myriad of information that has been presented to us.   Without my Learning Log I would be in deep trouble.  I passed on the idea of the Learning Log to one troubled learner from Asia and he has thanked me for it.

Clay Shirky tells us that it's not Information Overload - it's 'Filter Failure'  

I find there is a disconnect between what we were told by Dr. Levy in his short presentation in the street where we saw dozens of people walking across the street while texting/talking on their mobile phones or sitting on street corners working on their laptops and what we are told by Shirky and his ‘filter failure’.  I am suffering from information overload right now, not because of filter failure but because I want to learn while I am also working.  I have been on MOOCs before and had to do a lot of extra work to learn, but I have not been bombarded with as much information previously.  On this course I have personally filtered OUT the ‘Additional Resources’ simply because I have to filter out something to remain sane.

In consequence I have learned of additional values to the use of learning logs as a result of this last week.   I now realise the LL has enabled me to move from being a nondescript learner to what the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) terms an INTENTIONAL Learner.   An Intentional Learner, according to ACRL is one who ‘can adapt to new environments, integrate knowledge from different sources, and continue learning throughout their lives’ and it has also enabled me to (partially) deal with the massive information overload that many of my colleagues on this course must be experiencing.

A Learning Log

I commend the Learning Log to all my blog readers (well, both of you).  In a nutshell (to avoid even more information overload): -
1.  Write up your learning experience
2.  Record the source of learning and in this day and age, include a URL link
3.  Write up your thoughts about what you have learned – do you agree with the source?  Does the information have value?  If yes, what kind of value?  Do you need to explore more from other sources?
4.  How and where will you use what you have learned?

Another very useful piece of learning was to identify the traits/skills/habits of ‘Information Literacy’.  IL is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, as well as to filter out the information we don’t need. 

So filtering is a key IL skill.

Crap Detection

Howard Rheingold introduced us to 'Crap Detection' and the need for curiosity.  It's not only on the Internet that one needs to beware of 'crap'.  We get enough of it from news agencies the world over.  It struck me that because of 'crap' all of us need a mentor, whether young or old, rich or poor, we need to discuss what we are learning with someone else. 

Jagtar Singh 

Jagtar tells us that IL should include learning to know, to do, learning to work together, and learning to be better than the best.

I can’t put it better (or shorter) myself

Doherty, J.J. and Ketchner, K. 

in a 2005 paper titled ‘Empowering the Intentional Learner: A Critical Theory for Information Literacy Instruction’ http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~mbolin/doherty-ketchner.htm tell us more about the IL person:

“in order to thrive in the 21st Century, the intentional learner should be: -
1.  empowered through a mastery of intellectual and practical skills;
2.  informed by knowledge about the natural and social worlds and about forms of inquiry basic to those studies;
3.  and, responsible “for their personal actions and civic values.”

I like the reference to responsibility for all too often in Africa I hear about ‘empowerment’ but so rarely about ‘responsibility’ 


To conclude this has been very useful to me this week because I was approached by a former friend who has a son who has been given management responsibility at his place of work and he needs to learn the basics of management.  I have been able to apply some of the principles of Intentional Learning to help this young man achieve a better future.

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