2 The impact of information abundance on teaching and learning

Moving your teaching to the internet is about understanding information abundance.

One of the critical conceptual parts about teaching online is adjusting to the idea that your students already have access to all of the precious information you were planning to give them in class.

For the purposes of mere humans, the information available on the internet is limitless. There is more information (good or bad) on any subject than you will ever be able to read. There is an abundance, if you will.

Our classrooms typically create a ‘cone of artificial scarcity’. We remove the abundance by telling students not to use their laptops and phones in class. That allows us to be ‘in charge’ of what information they get access to. (often for good reason)

When your students are learning online, that artificial scarcity disappears.

If you’ve asked a yes or no question, your students can easily Google the answer. If you’ve asked what may be a ‘complicated’ question, but has an answer that is fairly recognised in your discipline, your students are going to Google the answer.

As they should.

Those of us with access to the internet (through literacy, technological and financial means) can reach out for any piece of information we need by simply searching for it. Our learning experiences need to reflect that, and we need to help students develop the ability to sort through that information in a meaningful way. We need to use that abundance to our advantage.


Information abundance impacts all of our fields. Think of an activity for your learners that uses that abundance to your own advantage. You could get them to source a youtube video to help them learn a concept or find divergent opinions on a controversial topic. Circle back and help them evaluate the quality of their choices.

Optional Resources


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12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online Copyright © 2020 by Dave Cormier and Ashlyne O'Neil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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