As I reflect on the many challenges facing our nation, and the world, I understand it is an important time to maintain a healthy infodiet. An infodiet is all the information an individual consumes as they interact with the world in a variety of different ways. The maintenance of my Professional Learning Network is an approach I utilize to control my information intake and expose myself to new and contradictory ideas from professionals and amateurs in various fields of study. I truly believe that the best way to solve, or improve, the world’s biggest wicked problems is through diverse collaborative teams with individuals from different backgrounds, points-of-views and fields of focus. Upon recent reflection, I have discovered that I may not understand the views that oppose mine as much as I once thought. Thankfully I have come to this realization and I can now work towards a greater focus on empathy for all viewpoints.
While exploring affinity spaces and filter bubbles, I have realized how my choices, as well as forces outside of my control, have disrupted what I thought was a well-balance infodiet. In his 2011 TedTalk, Eli Pariser displays how two people have vastly differing Google search results when preforming an identical search. Search algorithms can personalize content based geography, computer type and several other factors (Pariser, 2011). I knew search engines utilized algorithms to customize content, but I never thought about the extent to which this process keeps us closed to opposing information. With this, individuals must be stewards of their own learning and expand out to search for true diversity in points-of-view. On the other hand, I also feel individuals should be able to rely on structured programs, such as schools, designed to expand knowledge related to a well-rounded understanding of multifaceted problems. If one goes out on their own without a mentor, teacher or well-designed curriculum, the individual runs the risk of learning from bad information. Fake news and bad information is all over the internet. With this in mind, learners must obtain the skills of a vigorous researcher and have the support of trusted learning communities to get the right information.
With this realization, I have tried to expand my information networks to gain a truly well-rounded view of the world’s wicked problems. One of my struggles is with giving credit to certain ideas that come from individuals who have, or support people with, extreme ideologies as it relates to my personal beliefs. This extreme divide may not occur in education often, but the current political atmosphere seems to have created a divide between people that I have never seen before. Though I realize there may be some valuable perspective in the thoughts of these individuals, I sometimes have trouble respecting any of their ideas based on one or two of their thoughts that I have found disqualifying. In this frame of mind, I run the risk of placing myself in an echo chamber, so I must be careful not to be too dismissive. To create more balance, I have strategically added and removed components of my PLN to focus my attention, cut out the noise and exposed myself to differing perspectives in my main current concern of keeping education relevant. I do not have the time, energy, power or know-how to tackle all the world’s problems, so it is much healthier for me to clear the clutter.
In relation to focusing attention, Nicholas Carr makes some wonderful points for taking breaks from the constant bombardment of information in his talk at a conference sponsored by The Economist. Carr does not call for a complete elimination of technologies that provide instant access to information, but I believe he agrees with taking time to disconnect and ideate. To better manage my intake, I unfollowed many Twitter feeds and focused on pro and cons of technology integration, standardized testing, common core, virtual schools, charter schools and government organizations related to education. The combination of the aforementioned sources should give me a well-rounded view in regards to the wicked problem of keeping education relevant. With continuous mindfulness of my information consumption and a drive to improve the status for all stakeholders, I truly believe I can positively impact the world of education.
Nicholas Carr. “The dark side of the information revolution”. The Economist. ND. Retrieved from http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid57825992001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAADXaozYk~,BawJ37gnfAnGoMxEdQj_T9APQXRHKyAC&bctid=1128986496001
Pariser, Eli. “Beware online “filter bubbles” | Eli Pariser.” YouTube, uploaded by TED, 2 May 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s.
Patten, Brian. What’s in your Infodiet?. 2014., PNG, Retrieved from https://brianclaessonpatten.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/is-your-information-diet-well-balanced/