16 June 2012

Journal #6 - internet & information

How has the internet changed the way we view information and information access?
I think information is much more readily available with the internet. I’ve also noticed that students are much more likely to look up something they don’t know or don’t understand in an internet search rather than looking up things in a textbook. Another interesting trend is that students will often look up things on their handheld devices during a lecture or video. Since they have no problem multi-tasking, they listen and start internet searches. Or if a website is cited during the presentation, they will often go online and check it out while listening. I absolutely LOVE this concept. As students become better adept at multitasking, they can seek out more information about the subject, becoming immersed, which has been touted as a great way to learn. As websites are becoming more popular, more companies (profit and not-for-profit) has put websites online. Also, people began working together to get information out there – Wikipedia is a great example. Therefore, everyday, the amount of information available online is growing exponentially. The question thereby becomes: how accurate is this information? - which brings up the next discussion question.

How has the internet changed access to ‘literature,’ research, and quality ‘text’ as well as censorship and editing ?

Unfortunately, one of the side effects, in my opinion, of the massive amount of online information, is the majority of reader’s readily acceptance that the information is completely correct. Granted, most information comes from reputable sources and is extremely accurate or corrected in a timely manner. I read an article, awhile ago, that compared the amount of errors in a current set of encyclopedias and the amount of errors on Wikipedia. There were actually less errors on Wikipedia because the information was edited by some many people every day. More recently, I read an article about how an online news source (not reputable) reported the death of a semi-famous person. A more reputable news source put the information on their website and it just snowballed from there. The death was added to the semi-famous person’s page on Wikipedia, but was removed within an hour because the information could not be legitimized. Later that day, the semi-famous person, who found out about the reported death, made an announcement the he was very much alive. Here is a great example of how serious Wikipedia takes the information they display.

Unfortunately, a lot of students reading online information have lost their ability to legitimately question the source, just because it is online. Although, maybe that isn’t an entirely fair statement since a line out of textbook is taken as gospel by students as well. Perhaps questioning the accuracy of information isn’t relative to if it is printed on paper or on the internet, but rather that we are not teaching students to always question and legitimize ALL information.