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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Life and learning in the digital age | Futurelearning - Newsroom

How can we as individuals, particularly those born before the digital age, navigate the technological terrain of today? Cathy Gunn goes in search of some answers.

People born after the digital age typically struggle with new technology.
Photo: Getty Images

Does it worry you that technology is watching (and keeping records) of virtually everything you do? Are you baffled about the difference between Bitcoin and Blockchain; micro credentials and MOOCs? Do you mistrust Internet banking and believe all computer games belong on the list of problem gambling scenarios; or see people staring at smartphones and wonder what happened to social life, and always use a travel agent rather than book a trip online? Does some of this sound like jargon you don’t need to know and aren’t curious enough to find out?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, the chances are you were born before Generation Z and their predecessors, the Millennials morphed into existence. Digital literacy is not a function of age, but what was around when you grew up does affect your ability to grasp new technology. If something wasn’t invented until you were an adult, it may not fit into an existing frame of reference - try explaining remote keyhole surgery or drone warfare to a 94 year old, who was a teen through WW11!...

Anyone born in a developed country after about 1980 grew up with fast and ubiquitous Internet, instant access to all kinds of information (true or otherwise) social networks, online banking, entertainment, shopping and education. The high tech world is reality for younger generations, who live comfortably with technology and quickly become distressed if any of it breaks down.

The problem is, you don’t have to be interested in digital age technologies for them to permeate your life. They won’t go away if you ignore them. The worst possible case is that ignorance can lead to exploitation, and you could miss out on appealing opportunities. The problem is, how do you know what’s worth learning and what to avoid, or the difference between a scam and a genuine bargain? The answer is simple: critical understanding.

One of the problems with the current state of information overload is knowing what and who to believe. One of the advantages is that it encourages critical thinking beyond the demands placed on previous generations. If you want an informed opinion now, reading a national newspaper or listening to the 6 o’clock news is no longer quite enough.
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Source: Newsroom