A CRITICAL evaluation OF LEARNING TO COPE WITH information OVERLOAD – TRANSITIONING FROM RECOGNITION TO APPLICATION
1.1 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
Although many of us consider ‘information overload' to be a modern phenomenon, the term has been in use for more than 50 years; and even before that, people were concerned about the ever-increasing amount of information they were required to deal with on a daily basis. According to a 1963 report by the United States President's Scientific Advisory Committee, “we shall cope with the information explosion only if some scientists are willing to commit themselves to the task of sifting, reviewing, and synthesizing information;
that is, to handling information with sophistication and meaning, not just mechanically” Since then, there has been an exponential expansion in the volume of information in various formats, which has been accelerated by extraordinary developments in Information and Communication Technologies.
Although libraries and information science (LIS) professionals and computer scientists have made concerted efforts to deal with this massive proliferation of information through various bibliographic control and information management and retrieval techniques, there has been no proven method for addressing this growing form of information overload. We are on the approach of an even greater information explosion in the future decades as a result of enormous research and development advancements in virtually every country.
The creation of new concepts necessitates their documentation. People have recorded their thoughts, deeds, and expressions in a variety of ways from the beginning of time. With the advent of reading and the discovery of new tools for recording one's thoughts and ideas, the body of knowledge created and gained by people began to grow.
This progressively began to tax people's limited time and resources. In 1255, Dominican Vincent of Buauvais was discovered lamenting “the richness of literature, the brevity of time, and the instability of memory” (Blair, 2011). With the invention of the portable printing press in the 15th century, both book production and the price of books increased dramatically.
The European Renaissance ushered in a widespread regard for knowledge and the widespread dissemination of information. The founding of the first truly public library in England in 1598 facilitated the dissemination of information and knowledge to a larger audience (Strother et al 2012) The industrial revolution and other discoveries in the 18th and 19th centuries produced a great body of knowledge that served as the basis for the twentieth century's social, economic, and cultural development.
Because of information, we gain a deeper understanding of how to face life's core problems. Food is more abundant. Our physical structures are more robust and trustworthy. Now that we comprehend how to operate political institutions, our societies are more stable. Our populace is more liberated due to the broad dissemination of information, which has empowered the individual.
(Tofler, 1970). However, with an abundance of information comes an abundance of jobs, such as sifting through this ever-expanding body of knowledge to find the information we need. People have less and less time to do so in today's fast-paced society. As a result, information overload has become a problem that is escalating daily.
Alvin Toffler coined the phrase “information overload” in the 1970s. The development of the World Wide Web has made our world really information-driven. “The technical advancements of the past half-century have made more information available to more people than at any other time in human history,” Feather stated (Feather, 1998).
Alvin Toffler, a prominent futurist and writer, portrayed the transition of industrialized nations from the industrial era to the information age as a transition from the “Second Wave” to the “Third Wave,” with the “First Wave” being the prehistoric Agricultural Revolution (Toffler, 1981).
During the Middle Ages, the emergence of literacy and new printing innovations were essential in helping humanity understand the significance of ‘information.' People realized that increasing their knowledge will allow them to make better decisions and choices.
With the passage of time, this understanding evolved into a firm conviction, resulting in the crucial role that information plays in advancing human civilization today. “Information,” as David Shenk observed (Tofler, 1970). In general, information overload refers to a situation in which the information user is incapable of processing any new information due to its immense volume and quantity.
Information overload is characterized by Edmunds and Morris as a “overabundance of relevant information that cannot be processed, or being burdened with massive amounts of unsolicited (which may be valuable) information.” Edwards and Morris (2000). According to Mayer, information overload is “a circumstance in which human information-processing capacity is exceeded” (Meyer, 1988).
According to Bawden, Holtham, and Courtney, information overload is “typically viewed as a condition in which an individual's efficiency in utilizing information in their task is hindered by the quantity of relevant and potentially useful information available” (Bowden, Holtham & Courtney, 1999).
Information consumers' ability to assimilate information has been connected to information overload. Individuals with little or no understanding comprehend little or nothing and, as a result, make poor choices. As the quantity of information increases, so does the quantity of information processed and the caliber of decision-making.
1.2 DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM
Information overload impairs or hinders a person's capacity to think clearly and make sound decisions. This is because, with the availability of more information, a person assesses which will have the best consequence; a rigorous mental process occurs. Is it however conceivable for information overload to be beneficial?
Can we humans learn to adapt and cope with information overload, and more importantly, can we retrieve and utilize the information we have consumed? This study aims to evaluate the ability to deal with information overload.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The fundamental purpose of this study is to evaluate critically learning to cope with information overload; consequently, the following objectives will guide this research:
To assess whether information overload has any advantages.
Determine if students are capable of adapting to information overload.
To explore the effects of constant information overload on students.
To investigate the retrieval rate of the overabundance of information consumed by students and their application to academics.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions serve as a guide for this study:
Exist any advantages to information overload?
Can kids cope to the abundance of information?
What effects does the constant flood of knowledge have on students?
What is the level of retrieval and application of the overabundance of material that pupils have consumed?
1.5 Importance of the Research
This study is important because it will highlight the concept of information overload and the repercussions of consuming too much information. It will tell whether individuals can learn to adapt and cope with information overload, and it will also reveal the extent to which individuals can retrieve information overload and apply it to daily activities or work.
This study will also be noteworthy since it will contribute to the body of knowledge for other researchers and scholars who wish to examine this topic from a different angle or go further into it.
1.6 RADIUS OF STUDY
This study will only examine information overload and the extent to which individuals can adapt and cope. It will also address the extent of their retrieval of this excessive amount of data. The survey would only include students from a single private and public Abuja institution of higher education.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study would be limited to two tertiary institutions in Abuja, one public and one private. This study's findings will be based only on data collected from students at these universities. During the course of this inquiry, the researcher was constrained by time and money.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge or abilities through study, experience, or instruction.
INFORMATION OVERLOAD: Information overload is the difficulty in comprehending a problem and making good judgments when one has too much information about that problem, and is typically related with the excessive amount of everyday information.
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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF LEARNING TO COPE WITH INFORMATION OVERLOAD – TRANSITIONING FROM RECOGNITION TO APPLICATION