"What I would have had to do to access original sources 15 years ago!" Prof. Jeff McClurken McClurken, Associate Professor and Head of History and American Studies at the University of Mary Washington, told Ars. "Now I can get the entire text of Lewis and Clark's journals online, or most books from the 19th century or an archive of tweets related to the Arab Spring."
"Education is in the the process of changing," agreed Jonathan Rees, Professor of History at Colorado State University at Pueblo. "Technology has given us opportunities the people who taught me didn't have."
Technology has made the job of the professor, both teaching and research, easier and more exciting. At the same time, it has introduced stresses and worries that were not present before.
"As an historian," said McClurken, "I see it as a shift from scarcity to abundance, in information. It is one of the most transformative things I've seen in teaching and research, and we're only beginning to address what means for academics."
The need for information fluency
The immediate access that students have to millions of results for every question or keyword has created a real challenge for teaching. Before the advent of search engines, the academy created a self-defining class of legitimate sources. They were published. To wildly overstate it, if it was published, you considered it. If it wasn't, you didn't.
McClurken believes it is more a matter of quantity than quality. Back in the days of more paper than not, you still had to evaluate research papers, books and other resources in terms of potential biases: how the material fit in with that of the larger discipline and authorial reputation. What professors must now teach students is an "amped up version of what we were doing before."
Sifting the wheat from the chaff has become more important as the sources have proliferated.
"Quantity has a quality all its own," as the murderous dictator quipped.
Source: Ars Technica
Read more: http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/06/future-u-fear-and-loathing-in-academia/
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