Where the information is

We talked a bit in class last week about the shift from learning “what” the information is to where the information is.

We’re learning now in a time where information is abundant — too abundant at times.   It once may have made sense to design courses around a bounded set of information pre-chosen by experts and to then pass that information on to students.  Teachers and curriculum writers were curators, deciding what students would and wouldn’t learn.

Now, when so much information is available at our fingertips, we still need curators to help us to sort out where we should pay attention and where we should skim and what we can ignore.   Teachers still do that, of course.  And learning in these times also means finding other curators: who is doing excellent work sorting through information and posting the best of the best on their blogs or Twitter feeds or sites like Known or Tumblr or even Pinterest?  How do we find those people?

When Google algorithms drive  commercial and Highly “Clicked” content to the top of search results, how do we still find the great conversations between 50 wonderfully creative educators, the terrific reflections on teaching written for relatively a small audience, the reviews of tech tools created by networks of very experienced teachers on their own sites?

Google isn’t going to help us there. So we can search Twitter hashtags, follow people on Twitter who in turn follow generous people, we can do blog searches on Google to filter past all the commercial sites, we can follow authors of books that we love and in turn see who they follow.   And we can become curators for others as we sort through all those sorts of questions.

In a word, we join networks of people learning about things that are important to us. When information isn’t officially curated by a small number of experts, we need to learn to instead find where reliable curators are posting things, we find people who push our thinking, we find networks where people enthusiastically critique and recommend and reflect.

Audrey Watters wrote about the potential for networking now possible with the internet in our reading a week ago. Finding out where the information is won’t happen only via Google searches or reliance on commercial sites.    But learning to network is key to navigating digital teaching and learning.


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