At the close of another session of sampling the benefits and advantages of the digital world in which we live I am wondering if I am streamlining my processing or merely adding layers to my connectivity.
This week we explored RSS readers (one piece of new learning was that RSS means Really Simple Syndication –hmmm). We set up a Google reader and added a number of feeds. I liked that at least I knew what an RSS feeder actually was.
Given that I take another digital course where we are required to connect with fellow bloggers, (and cite from their work) this felt like a simplified way to follow them. For example, here is a link to a fellow learner/blogger that I cited this week in my musings about copyright and creativity. I also added a couple of blogs from our own ADED1P32 cohort and one from a Canadian “home cook” with this drop-dead delicious recipe for ButterCream Icing (not that I can eat much of this anymore!). I also added a couple of news sites as I am a bit of a news junkie.
I was left questioning the inherent benefits of the reader. I know that in the video we watched Welcome to RSS in Plain English we were told that the old way of surfing the net is old and slow. In using a reader we are changing the information flow from outward by us, to inward, for us (if that makes sense!). As this relates to my personal learning environment I see that I have placed the reader icon in my information exploration category.
Well, I also see this – my reader is rapidly filling with new information. But I am also left to wonder if the constant influx of information is helping or hindering me. I added the Toronto online newspaper The Toronto Star to my reader, as one of my sources of current events. Today there was an article that examines the impact of 24/7 connectivity on our brains and on our stress levels. Tapper (2013) cites research that demonstrates our immersion in all things online is altering “our relationships, our brains and sense of self.” Further, he notes that our ability to process information through hyperlinks such as that which we obtain when scrolling through our readers, is hindered because we are retraining our neural networks to absorb information in a “distracted, piece-meal” way while we are diminishing our ability to “read deeply” and potentially “not very clearly” (Carr, as cited in Tapper, 2013).
Right now my reader contains 313 items, all of which are sent to me. In the very short term I am not sure that I am finding this tool better than my bookmarks. I can see that I need to live with it, play and learn more.
However, in terms of my digital literacy, truly understanding the underlying use of an RSS reader means that I am continuing to grow and develop in my knowledge and skill base as they relate to my PLE. This means that I can stay current to the digital world around me.
Right now the jury is out – let’s check again in a few weeks!
Tapper, J. (2013, January 26). Turned on, tuned in but tuning out? The Toronto Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/living/health/article/1319796–your-brain-online