Dealing with the Information Overload of Online Learning

A constant refrain of those who feel that online learning offers more dangers than rewards is that the internet makes access to information too easy, that the information may not be from a reliable sources and that the excess of dubious information and the massive volume of it can lead to not just confusion in students’ minds but also to a reluctance to sift through digital volumes of junk to find what is worthwhile. Often it is easier to accept what is found first and hope that it is accurate and reliable.

A recent survey of teachers on the issue of the internet and how it affects students and their access to information was recently completed in the USA. The finding are very similar to what can be expected in Australia and other developed countries where online censorship does not exist..

Information Access Online

The findings:

  • 99% of teachers surveyed said that the internet gives students access to information that will otherwise not be available.

  • 65% said that the internet makes students more self-sufficient.

  • 83% said that the amount of information available online is overwhelming

  • 76% felt that the internet has conditioned students to accept whatever they find online without question

  • 78% say that students do not have the patience or determination to spend time looking for the best resources.

  • 60% agree that modern technology makes it more difficult for students to find credible information sources.

  • 71% agree that the internet draws students away from other information resources that should not be ignored.

  • 94% say their students depend of Google, Wikipedia and YouTube as the starting points for their information search.

  • 71% feel that students are unable to recognize bias in online content

  • 61% do not rate students highly in their ability to assess the quality of the material they access online. At the same time, 91% say that the ability to discern the true value of the information before them is an essential trait in academic success.

  • 81% spend time helping students to improve their ability to assess  the quality of online information.

  • 71% spend time discussing online search techniques with students.

All this shows one thing very clearly – students have access to online information resources and are not hesitant in utilising what they find. The problem lies in their ability to evaluate the quality of the information they find and make informed decisions on whether to use it or not. An analogy may be drawn with a library containing books without covers or information on the authors. How is a student to decide which ones are worth reading?

The Solution

Obviously there are positives and negatives in the mass of information that students can access over the internet.  Allowing unguided access to the data available online can lead to confusion and information overload. Access to the internet cannot and should not be restricted. The way to overcome this problem is to provide students with access to professionally operated online learning systems, such as Skwirk. This will not replace the need to search for information. But the ease with which knowledge is internalized and the focused way information is presented will teach the students to be more selective and careful about what they garner online. Skwirk has essentially done the hardwork for parents and students when it comes to online resources. Our content is aged and curriculum appropriate, and written by teachers and educators. Sit you children down in front of Google, and you never know what information they may find. Sit them down in front of Skwirk and you know is a safe online learning environment. The improved grades and the time saved will be reward enough for the students to continue with this process. Since today’s children are net savvy and know how to optimize internet usage and resources, the exercise of collecting and utilising the right kind of information will be a painless one.

Happy Skwirking,

The Skwirk Team

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