Tag Archives: newspapers

The Journey to Information

Road to nowhere...

One of the benefits of the internet revolution is that is has widened access to information and knowledge, whilst at the same time reduced the time it takes, the journey to get that information.

Illustrated London News

The newspaper pictured above is available to any learner (or member of staff) across Activate Learning anytime, and anywhere they have an internet connection.

Forty years ago, if you wanted to access a newspaper archive you would probably needed to have been a PhD student or more likely an academic, as the only place you could go was to the newspaper offices and access their archives.

Twenty years ago, newspaper archives were available on microfilm, I remember when I was at university ploughing through the microfilm archives trying to find a series of articles. There was no integrated search with microfilm.

Ten years ago we were all accessing newspaper archives on CD-ROMs. These opened up access to the said archives to schools and colleges. They were searchable by keyword, but could only be accessed inside the institution. It was also restricted, as we only had one CD-ROM to one person at a time. Not all newspapers were on CD-ROM and generally the collections only went back a few years.

Today we have newspapers, digitised, searchable and accessible from any device with an internet connection. We have archives that go back hundreds of years or as recent as yesterday.

This has made it much easier to access newspaper archives, but brings with it the challenge of managing information overload. Learners need different skills to manage the amount and ease by which information can be accessed. The information skills needed today are very different to those of a few years ago.

It also means that we need to rethink assessment, ensuring that it is doing what we need it to do. In many ways the journey to information was in the past a way of assessing learning. However now that the journey is so much shorter, we need to ensure that assessment is based on understanding and not just discovery of information. Using something like Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that when designing assessment it is more than just discovering knowledge.

The internet and web have ensured that the journey to information and knowledge has got shorter and shorter over time, this is a real opportunity to add depth and breadth to learning.

Newspaper Boy

In the past (over forty years ago) you needed to be a post graduate student to access old newspapers in the newspaper and library archives. They would need to go through the newspapers one by one until they found the articles they needed.

Twenty years ago, undergraduates could access newspapers on microfilm in their university libraries. They still needed to go through paper by paper, however microfilm allowed access to a wider range of newspapers and was in many ways faster than leafing through an actual newspaper.

Ten years ago, learners in colleges and schools could access newspaper articles on a CD-ROM using a computer in their classroom or library. The text was searchable and could be easily copied into a different medium.

Today, archives of newspapers from the last two hundred years can be accessed via a web browser on a mobile device or from a computer in the home, workplace or at college.

In the past the process of researching past newspapers was time intensive, expensive (travelling to archives) and exclusive; there was no way newspaper archives and university libraries would allow college students or school pupils access to their collections.

In the past learners would be dependent on text book interpretations of newspaper articles or even the author’s interpretations of events based on other sources. Today primary school children can access a range of newspaper archives covering the last two hundred years and that alone can and should have an impact on the delivery of learning.