Information in a digital age


You may have heard people say that we’re living in an ‘information age’. The ‘information age’ started around the 1970s and shows no signs of stopping. Indeed, the pace of change is accelerating. The Collins English Dictionary defines the ‘information age’ as:

a time when large amounts of information are widely available to many people, largely through computer technology.

(Collins, 2016)

Computer technology has advanced quickly in recent years. It has changed our lives and continues to do so. This ‘revolution’ in computing has given us access to information at the touch of a button. We are no longer limited to desktop computers and can access information from anywhere, and at any time, using mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. Technology has become a significant part of everyday life and has brought information instantly to our fingertips.

Recent advances include voice recognition software on mobile devices that can actually ‘talk’ to us. We can ask them to find the information we need, and they can tell us what we need to know. Examples are ‘Siri’ on Apple devices and ‘Cortana’ on Windows devices.

Our phones use location tracking to identify where we are, and provide us with information that they think is relevant. If I’m looking for a bank, my smartphone can determine where I am and show me where the nearest one is.

We can document what we do, by taking photographs or videos, which we can instantly share with family and friends. We can also record and share our thoughts by clicking a button on our phones, computers, tablets and now using ‘smart’ watches.

If we want to find out how to do something, whether it’s how to bake a cake or build a house, it’s likely that there will be an online video showing us exactly how to do it.

We are now surrounded by information whether we’re at home, at work, or studying. 

It is worth considering then how you can use these new tools, and unprecedented access to information to learn effectively. It is both a huge benefit to learning, but with so much information from so many different sources, also a challenge.

Activity 3.1 Your digital environment Allow 15 minutes for this activity
You will get a better sense of your own digital environment by reflecting on how you use the internet and social media. Later on, this will help you to identify which skills development activities would benefit you most. The list below gives some examples of activities you might have engaged in during the last month. Pick two activities and provide some details on what you were doing, why you were doing it, how it helped and any issues that came up. Make your notes in your learning journal. You can also write about an online activity that doesn’t appear on the list.
  • Searching for information on the internet (news, holidays, restaurants shopping etc.).
  • Passing information on to another person or group (hobbies, clubs, social media).
  • Finding out about a current affairs issue.
  • Using social media to share news, comments, photographs, and video and audio clips.
  • Writing about an interest online.
  • Sharing information about yourself on social media.

What I didWhy I did itHow it helpedIssues raised
Searching for information on the internet (news, holidays, restaurants shopping etc.).I was looking for some information on inflammatory arthritis because my mother has been diagnosed and I wanted to understand it, and find out how I can help her.I searched on Google, and got a large number of results.

There were so many results that I didn’t know where to start.

Some sites were really complex, and the others just seemed too trivial. Then I found that not all the information was the same across the board.

Next: Digital skills and digital literacy

Last modified: Thursday, 28 September 2017, 6:08 PM