Masters of Technology  

A new report, sponsored by the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee, debunks the myth that young people are "masters of technology," finding that while teens may have the basic technology skills to use tools like search engines, they lack the information processing and higher order thinking skills necessary to really use them effectively. Apparently these young people don't know how to select and use proper search terms, nor do they have good skills in evaluating the information that they find online. According to the report, the greatest difficulty is getting these kids to realize that they have a problem--their self-reported levels of competence do not match with their actual performance.

On all these issues, I'd argue that "adults" aren't much better. For example, according to a Boost eLearning survey:

39 percent of all Google searches fail, leading to more than 40 hours or one week of lost productivity per user per year. The online survey found that respondents perform about 12 searches per day and, statistically, 4.7 of those searches do not obtain the desired results. Respondents also report that they spend an average of 30.8 minutes per day searching online. The reported amount of time lost on each search that does not deliver the desired result equates to 12 minutes per day or 46 hours annually. In addition to lost productivity, a high search-failure rate also indicates that a users current research results are likely incomplete, leading to missed opportunities, the value of which could far exceed any time lost.

I've also been on the receiving end of many reports, presentations, blog posts, etc. that are based on poorly understood information found online, and in my experience, a lot of these people consider themselves to be pretty information savvy.

We're all dealing with an information tsunami and work that requires an ability to find, manage, sort through, evaluate and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources. These are generally not skills that we've been taught, so we need to figure out how to learn them for ourselves, not just the teens in the classroom, but also the adults in the workplace.


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