The amount and range of information available to todayÃ¢ÂÂs studentsÃ¢ÂÂand indeed to all learnersÃ¢ÂÂis unprecedented. Phrases like Ã¢ÂÂthe information revolutionÃ¢ÂÂ, Ã¢ÂÂthe information (or knowledge) societyÃ¢ÂÂ, and Ã¢ÂÂthe knowledge economyÃ¢ÂÂ underscore the truism that our society has been transformed by virtually instantaneous access to virtually unlimited information. Thomas Friedman tells us that Ã¢ÂÂThe World Is FlatÃ¢ÂÂ and that we must devise new political and economic understandings based on the ceaseless communication of information from all corners of the world. The Bush administration tells us that information relating to the Ã¢ÂÂwar on terrorismÃ¢ÂÂ is so critical that we must allow new kinds of surveillance to keep society safe. Teenage subscribers to social-computing networks not only access information but enter text and video images and publish them widelyÃ¢ÂÂbecoming the first adolescents in history to be creators as well as consumers of vast quantities of information.
If the characteristics of Ã¢ÂÂthe information ageÃ¢ÂÂ demand new conceptions of commerce, national security, and publishingÃ¢ÂÂamong other thingsÃ¢ÂÂit is logical to assume that they carry implications for education as well. In fact, a good deal has been written over the last several decades about how education as a whole must transform its structure and curriculum to accommodate the possibilities offered by new technologies. Far less has been written, however, about how the specific affordances of these technologiesÃ¢ÂÂand the kinds of information they allow students to access and createÃ¢ÂÂrelate to the central purpose of education: learning. What does Ã¢ÂÂlearningÃ¢ÂÂ mean in an information-rich environment? What are its characteristics? What kinds of tasks should it involve? What concepts, strategies, attitudes, and skills do educators and students need to master if they are to learn effectively and efficiently in such an environment? How can researchers, theorists, and practitioners foster the well-founded and widespread development of such key elements of the learning process?
This book explores these questions and suggests some tentative answers. Drawing from research and theory in three distinct but related fieldsÃ¢ÂÂlearning theory, instructional systems design, and information studiesÃ¢ÂÂit presents a way to think about learning that responds directly to the actualities of a world brimming with information. The book is grounded in the work of such key figures in learning theory as Bransford and Anderson & Krathwohl. It draws on such theorists of instructional design as Gagne, Mayer, and Merrill. From information studies, it uses ideas from Buckland, Marchionini, and Wilson (who is known for his pioneering work in Ã¢ÂÂinformation behaviorÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂthat is, the full range of information seeking and use). The book breaks new ground in bringing together ideas that have run in parallel for years but whose relationship has not been fully explored.
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