Alvin Toffler warned us long ago in his 1970 book, “Future Shock.”
In that book he said, the “future shock” will be “the dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future. It may well be the most important disease of tomorrow”.
Toffler was correct – and he may have even underestimated the impact of the Information Age and the arrival of what is called “Information Overload.”
In the early development of the “Critical Skills,” one of the key skills was called “Analysis.” At the time, this skill included the ability of an individual to “gather appropriate information” as well as to perform “analysis” on the relevant data . . . . i.e., to develop “findings,” “conclusions,” and “recommendations.”
At the time – BEFORE the internet – gathering appropriate information consisted of the painstaking tasks of manually searching library resources or collecting data through surveys or personal interviews. Accomplishing this data collection task was, indeed, a “skill.”
After twenty five years of internet development, however, the information world has literally exploded. With a few clicks of a mouse, a researcher can easily gather an avalanche of data from the internet on virtually any subject matter. The problem becomes not one of “gathering data,” but sifting through literally tons of information and data to determine what is relevant to a problem being addressed and what is not.
This is, indeed, a “skill” – the “Information Skill.”
When that task has been done – the “analysis” skill may be applied.
The balance between gathering information and analysis of that information has shifted dramatically. No longer does a researcher have to “mine” library resources for information – rather, he/she has to shovel through mountains of information and painstakingly select from that immense heap those gems of data and facts that are appropriate. All of these data sources must be tested for “truth” in order to prepare the information for analysis.
Teaching students the “information skill” has shifted dramatically. Examination of the old “academic content standards” and comparing them to the newer “Common Core Standards” shows a distinct sensitivity and recognition of the information challenge.
For adults who grew up and were educated in the days before the development of the internet, the “information skill” has had to be learned on the job. For students who are currently in schools these days, the curriculum seems to be sensitive to the needs for development of the “information skill.” That’s good – to put it mildly.
The need for skills to gather information and then conduct analysis on that information has not changed.
It’s the “balance” between the two that has changed.
Personally, while I believe that Alvin Toffler correctly predicted the coming “information age,” I think that people have learned (or are learning) to adapt to the information avalanche and cope with it successfully.
It’s refreshing that Common Core Standards show recognition of this change.
Our student will need it.