Surfing Versus the Data Stream

Show someone to surf, you entertain them for life. Teach someone how to identity, filter, assess, and tag data, they become digitally literate.

Waves keep breaking and we keep paddling out to get the next ride! Emails to answer, blogs to reflect upon, comments to post, images to upload,  tweets to follow,  wall graffiti to write, videos to vote on.  And we thought it tough in the analog world? A basic interpretation of  Moore’s Law says, computing power will double every two years. Creative and innovating use of this power yields new ways to sample and generate data and information. As our collective data source exponentiates,  the definition of literacy changes. A “digital citizen” needs to know how to continually identify, filter, assess, and tag data if he/she hopes to sustain literacy. Without skills to read the growing stream of data, quality learning does not stand a chance. Of course, just surfing can be great. You ride one web page to the next and the hours pass. Maybe you repackage some data for your social network. Digital literacy requires more! Simple surfing typically avoids the essential critical aspect of reflecting, contributing, and ultimately learning. It is up to us as teachers, as peers, and friends to collectively coach surfers out of their safety zones, challenge them to take risks, and lead them to ask more of their social networks. Digital citizens who can assemble information from the Internet and tag it for later use will not only enhance the value of that knowledge for themselves, but for everyone who knows who to read the data stream.