Topic 1 Information needs in learning activities and digital environment

Learning activities can be facilitated by using information technology. The first step for the educator is to identify the needs of the information that is going to be used in the curriculum of the taught subject. It is important for learners to identify their needs for information as well. Learning activities are included inside the teaching process and are important tools for the educator. A digital learning environment, sets new characteristics in the learning process.

The ability to use ICT and the Internet becomes a new form of literacy — “digital literacy”. Digital literacy is fast becoming a prerequisite for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and without it citizens can neither participate fully in society nor acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to live in the 21st century (European Commission, 2003: 3).

The growth of information

The digital age has both changed the nature of resources and information and transformed basic social and economic enterprises (Galbreath, 1997). Both the amount of information and access to it have grown exponentially:

To get a glimmer of the impact of this growth, imagine that the total amount of information available in the world today is represented by a line 1 centimeter in length. By the time today’s first-graders enter 12th grade, that line will be 64 centimeters long (Thornburg, p. A 15, 1998).

Our brains depend on information to work optimally. The quality of information we engage with, largely determines our perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. It could be information from other persons, the media, libraries, archives, museums, publishers, or other information providers including those on the Internet (Unesco).

A short introduction to Media and Information Literacy

What is Media and Information Literacy?

Write down a list of learning activities that you usually choose to engage during teaching. If you teach using digital environments e.g. e-learning platforms, you should identify the different learning activities used.

How technology changes learning

The relationship between teachers and their students is being increasingly mediated via educational technologies. This increased use of technologies has implications for all levels of education, perhaps most evident in a higher education context where students are spending less time on campus and more time online than they did in the past. The flexibility afforded by educational technologies is evident in the emergence of “flipped classes”, massive open online courses and a growing number of programs being offered by institutions online.

Data, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are also all poised to substantially influence the adaptability and capacity for personalization of educational technologies. These trends necessitate an ongoing adjustment of the role of teachers and their relationship with students. As the relationship changes, there is a pressing need to ensure that what is understood about quality, student learning remains the primary consideration (Lodge, Kennedy & Lockyer, 2020).

One of the major issues with the development of educational technologies is that the research examining the effectiveness of the tools lags well behind the spread of their use (Lodge & Horvath, 2017). In other words, new technologies are created and enter into widespread use often before the educational implications of the technologies are fully understood.

As an adult educator you should reflect on:

  • The learning activities used during teaching
  • The criteria of choosing learning activities
  • The strategy you employ to choose learning activities when using digital environments

(Source: Hill & Hannafin, 2001)

Although tools and search engines that are provided typically (and in most cases only generally) help to locate potential resources, they do not help an individual to determine their meaning or relevance. Individuals must recognize and clarify learning needs, plan a strategy to address these needs, locate and access resources, evaluate their veracity and utility, modify approaches based on an assessment of learning progress, and otherwise manage their teaching or learning.

The following research presents teachers’ level of ability to teach students how to solve information and communication tasks in a digital environment.

Teaching in a Digital Environment (TIDE): Defining and measuring teachers’ capacity to develop students’ digital information and communication skills

(2018-ArticuloHTPADocentesJournal.pdf)

Which learning activities have the greatest impact on learners? Write them down and then discuss reasoning with your colleagues.

This topic was an introduction to information and media literacy and learning activities in digital environments. Information growth and the impact of technology to learning, were highlighted in order to understand how information needs are addressed in modern digital environments. Finally an understanding was gained about the need of reflection on how learners access and use information  for their needs and purposes.