Talk:Information Underload and Overload
Comment by David Moursund 4/5/09
I finished a major update to the Information Underload and Overload page yesterday, and I have been reflecting on part of the direction this writing has gone.
For me, writing is a big help in better understanding what I think I understand. When I first started writing the document, Information Underload was a clear concept to me— often we cannot find the information we need, or perhaps it does not exist. Information overload is a situation of too much information.
Gradually it has dawned on me that information overload is common throughout our curriculum. It reminds me of near-end-of-term discussions with my colleagues in the Math Department, when they would often talk about the need to "cover" the last few chapters of the syllabus. Their intent was to rush through these last few chapters, so they could say that they had "covered" the curriculum.
As a thought experiment, imagine that the required curriculum were magically changed to being one-half of what it now is. In every course at every grade level, the required content that "must be covered" was cut in half. The remainder of the time was available to work on deeper understanding, transfer of learning to other disciplines, independent explorations, time for the slower learners to gain increased mastery of the "basics", and so on. There could be substantial emphasis on students learning to learn on their own and learning to take much more responsibility for their own learning.
Oh well, dream on! The steady growth in the totality of accumulated data, information, and knowledge puts more and more pressure on schools to cover more. There are a number of ways to do this, such as by extending the length of the school day, extending the length of the school year, creating an environment in which a great many students need more years of schooling than in the past, and so on. All such approaches are bound to fail in the long run.
Better attempts to address this academic information overload lie in ideas such as just in time learning, developing "intelligent" aids to solving problems and accomplishing tasks, focusing more on higher-order thinking and less on rote memorization, lifelong learning, and so on.
Comment by David Moursund 3/28/09
Every tool "contains" some of the knowledge and skills of its inventor. In some sense, it also contains some of the knowledge and skills of the people and/or machinery used in building the tool.
Thus, for example, I wear glasses. There is a considerable amount of information inherent to such a pair of glasses. The glasses also draw upon data (as well as knowledge and skill) from the technician and eye doctor where I had my eye exam.