Bryan Alexander writes in the Sept/Oct 2004 Educause Review about the effects that mobile technology is, and will have, on learning. The now/future he paints of learners who are now "creative, communicative participants rather than as passive, reception-only consumers" challenges current educational institutions and Alexander asks educational providers if they will be fighting against, or making the most of this tide?
The type of interaction a student has with a mobile device is more 'personally intimate' than they have with a desktop, and 'such machines become prosthetics for information, memory and creativity' (p30). Which is very much how I treat my mobile devices and make them work for me. I'd even put my blog into the category of mobile device - it is not tethered to a particular desktop computer but lives on the web, and can be updated from any internet enabled device. It is my mobile memory bank.
Alexander suggests that 'information literacy may change as students expand their multitaksing, mobile, learning-on-demand ethos' (p32). A critical skill in the use of any information is to be able to judge the worth and validity of that information - if the information is being accessed in the moment, then this aspect of information literacy will need to highly tuned and instantly responsive.
One flow-on of the 'connected world' is the speed at which information can travel through informal and uncensored pathways. 'Swarms' can form at any time, any where. Alexander's article ends with reference to Kakfa's cautionary tale "An Old Manuscript":
I am reminded of Franz Kafka’s “An Old Manuscript,” an account of a nomadic army arriving in an imperial city.18 The nomads arrive suddenly, surprising the urban population and appearing without warning in city streets, markets, libraries, and homes. Kafka’s tale focuses on the incomprehension of the city-dwellers, as well as on their dogged willingness to attempt living life as if the nomads simply weren’t there. The story charts their progressive decay and their slipping grasp on reality while the nomads build a new civilization literally in their front yard. It’s a very funny story, in Kafka’s unique way, but of course it’s also a cautionary tale, especially for those of us in higher education. At colleges and universities around the world, the nomadic swarms are already arriving.