Information seekers to information getters to information [fill in the blank]

For a while, we lived under one paradigm on the Internet — information seeking. We hopped on the ‘net with our fancy web browsers and surfed for neat, fun, exciting information ’till we dropped.We learned all sorts of tricks for narrowing our searches – Boolean logic and the like. Plus this (+), minus that (-), quotes, related:, etc. We thought we were the cat’s meow.

Now enter the new paradigm — information collecting. RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, social networking, etc. have all made it possible to manipulate a stream of information to come to us rather than us going to it. Granted, you need some seeking skills to initially direct the stream of information to your desktop. But in no time you’ve gone from seeker to gatherer. Information on the ‘net is like an open faucet, continuously flowing and from which we can take a drink as we please to slake our thirst for knowledge. Now we’re meowing away in the cat’s pajamas. Nice.

This made me wonder, as it may for you too — what’s next? I mean, where are we heading with all this? My prediction? Information using. Those with the power, those who will succeed, those who will successfully navigate the unknown waters of the 21st century will be those who not only know how to seek and gather the information. It will go to those who creatively, efficiently, and effectively use that information. To the victors (those who do this fastest and best) will go the spoils.

Meow, baby. Meow. We’re meowing all the way in our fancy pajamas for a tasty treat (from Jack-in-the-Box, which, coincidentally, is now outsourcing their order-takers at the drive through to Texas and, yes, India — what’s next, outsourcing relegious services for the religious folks? Someone far off across the world asking “Welcome to Our Lady of the Blah Blah Blah, may I take your order?”).

Gosh, I hope someday soon someone creates a standardized test for measuring those skills, or else we may never get our schools to start focusing on them. I say this toungue-in-cheek, sort of, and sort of not. Seriously, I wonder how this generation will learn to manipulate information like this given what our current teachers know and even what we are teaching our future teachers (I can criticize here, I’m one of the folks teaching them).

I think it’s time to focus on producing an army of teachers who thinks like this, knows about this, and is ready to deal with students who are growing up with this. It’s time to focus on the indespensible nature of the teacher and capitalize on what they can do to prepare students for tomorrow and not yesterday.

If not now, when? When our child’s education is ordered up from an outsourced, disembodied voice whose only job is to serve up quick, pre-packaged  online learning modules like a fast-food meal from Jack-in-the-Box? “Welcome to fifth grade, may I take your order?”

Don’t laugh. You get a bunch of non-education folks who get to make big budget decisions, whose see education budgets are being slashed, revenue sources are drying up, resources that are overburdended to the point of no return — these are the ideas that start to sound better and better to them. I jest, but I kind of don’t.

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