Simply writing the blog for this week leaves me with a feeling of “overload”. “Information overload occurs when the amount of information that is available exceeds a person’s ability to process it (“he or she is receiving too much information”),” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010). I feel as though I have a great many thoughts on this topic, however I am not sure how to concisely share my ideas and the ideas of others.
There is a great deal of information for parents and teachers on the subject of overload, though there is much debate as to whether or not “information overload” can actually be diagnosed as an illness. According to Palfrey and Gasser, ultimately, “Parents and teachers must work with kids to teach them the skills they will need to manage all the information that can enrich their lives in a digital era,” (2010, p. 203). This seems to be the overlying ideal I have taken away from this week’s readings/videos. Regardless of how one feels about the information our students/children receive, as the adults in our children’s and students’ lives, we are responsible for helping our children deal with overload and the information they receive.
So, how do we help our children deal with overload? Palfrey and Gasser speak about the many issues with overload while Tapscott shares positive aspects of the multitude of information being thrown at people today. Rather than side with one particular author, I relate to ideals from each text. As is true in today’s society, we are able to construct our own meaning by pulling from many different resources. Palfrey and Gasser discuss how, “The constant use of digital technologies can place a strain on families, friendship, and classrooms,” (2010, p. 186). Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician and mother noticed that many parents at different restaurants are more absorbed in their devices than in interactions with their children. The Boston University Medical Center went to different fast-food restaurants in the Boston area and observed 55 interactions of anonymous “non-participants”. The researchers noticed how these non-participants failed to respond to their children’s requests for attention, simply returning to their devices without responding (Pediatrics as cited by Bowerman, Mary, 2014). Teachers and parents can help alleviate this problem by leading by example. Parents can achieve this by setting aside a time when all digital devices are set aside, enjoying a dinner sans devices, or by refusing to answer texts while driving.
Other ways to deal with information overload are: focusing less time on each piece of information; using filtering devices such as accessing only scholarly journals or using search engines; or design institutions to absorb inputs such as printing online materials to eliminate distraction of technology (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010). Parents and teachers can also teach students to chunk material; this is a skill that is often taught as a reading skill in most elementary programs so teaching students to apply this skill for online use should simply be an extension of chunking reading material from books/textbooks.
Besides the many “issues” brought about by information overload discussed by Palfrey and Gasser, there are many benefits to the multitude of information presented to our students and children today. Tapscott for instance points out that by accessing information on the internet, “Instead of just numbly receiving information, they [students or children] are gathering it from around the globe with lightning speed. Instead of just trusting a TV announcer to tell us the truth, [they] are assessing and scrutinizing the jumble of facts that are often contradictory or ambiguous,” (Tapscott, 2008, p. 98). Not only do students have an over abundant amount of information to access, they can also explore this information collaboratively through sites such as Wiki and games which “often require cooperation with opponents to defeat a common enemy offering problems to be solved collaboratively and creatively…,” (Tapscott, 2008). Wiki offers students the opportunity to watch information evolve as the collaborators gather more information. This past semester I participated in my first real experience using a wiki page. I was skeptical at first but actually learned a great deal and was amazed by how much the high school students and our grad class learned by working with each other to create a wiki page. I know a few of us were in this class last semester, but if you haven’t checked out our wiki page here it is: http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/ ). As I consider how students can help educators I find myself reflecting on what Tapscott pointed out in his interview with Wesley Weisberg (not certain of the spelling) saying that, “Teachers need humility to allow the kids to lead to some extent,” (retrieved online from http://edet635uas.weebly.com/week-three.html). As teachers and parents we need to be willing to lead sometimes and allow our children and students to help guide us at other times. Providing guidance for our children as they deal with “information overload” is certainly important, still as our children/students become more and more tech savvy, we as educators/parents can learn a great deal by allowing our students to help us navigate technology.
Finally, as I was researching for this week’s blog posting I came across another text blog suggesting another text that contradicts Palfrey and Gasser’s thoughts on being “Born Digital”. Steven Poole discusses how Nicholas Carr views the overload of information people receive from the internet in his book, The Shallows.
Bowerman, Mary. (2014). Kids not the only ones guilty of too much screen time. USA Today. Retrieved
Gamifi-ED Wiki Page. (2014) Retrieved online from http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/
Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.
[On-line] Retrieved June 1, 2014 from: http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8
Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.
McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.
Poole, Steven. (2010). The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr, discussed by Steven Poole. Retrieved online from