Challenges for Education in the Information Society

Challenges for Education in the Information Society

Sérgio Maravilhas (CETAC.MEDIA - Porto and Aveiro Universities, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch441
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After World War II, Claude Shannon formulated “The Mathematical Theory of Communication” (1948), better known by “Theory of Information” (Gleick, 2011). In the same epoch two almost simultaneous inventions, the transistor and the digital computer came to reveal themselves with an enormous revolutionary potential when the social effects of their application, producing new goods and services were discovered, especially in the production and distribution of a new immaterial good and service: the information (Castells, 2001). Information, opposite to material goods, is infinitely expandable, doesn’t waste itself (meaning that we can give an information without losing it, which may allow us to give it to several people), and once created difficult to vanish (although its economical value may decrease). It’s easy to transport and distribute and the costs of keeping it in data warehouses is lesser every day. The speed and easiness in processing and transporting information electronically, it’s almost instantaneous ability in feed itself, start to subvert the traditional ways of labor division, fragmentation, expertise and centralization of the human experience and its sociological configuration (Cleveland, 1985). Nowadays, we tend to call IS to the type of the constraints we move in, sociologically interpreted. An IS, tend to describe a society no longer based in the production of material goods, but in the production of knowledge.

A huge transformation is taking place. We are moving towards a society that is no longer dependant in a massive industrialization or agriculture. This notion is interconnected with the birth of the so called IT, characterized by computers and electronic means of producing and transmitting information at the speed of light through a network of other technological apparatus. Two authors, one in the United States of America and other in France, having a initial description for the transformation noted called it “Post-industrial society” (Bell, 1973; Tourraine, 1974), meaning that we were moving to something beyond the industrial development that we were used to know. They often talk about the knowledge and information based transformation of the world economy we were living in, with flux and flows of information gaining advantage to the exchange of goods.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Society: A societal era and way of living supported by flux and flow of data and information. It is based on the creation and exchange of knowledge and its economic growth is based on information and knowledge instead in the production of material goods.

Data: The representation of facts, concepts or instructions. Formalized with a structure suitable for communication, interpretation or processing by humans or by automatic means. The raw material of information. The basic element for the production of new information.

Information: A set of data arranged in a certain order and form, useful to people to whom it is addressed. Reduces uncertainty and supports decision-making. Information is considered to support human knowledge and communication in the technical, economic and social domains. Results from the structuring of data in a given context and particular purpose.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): Electronic tools based on the Internet, that allow synchronous and asynchronous communication and exchange of information – using sound, text, images, and video - between several points in different locations. Improves and stimulates the economic and societal globalization.

Anti-Utopian: Authors and thinkers who defend the idea that a new world and society based on technology and information/knowledge exchange will dig a bigger trench between northern and southern hemispheres, and east and western civilizations, raising poverty, lowering the conditions of life of the populations excluded from the access to these technologies.

Utopian: Authors and thinkers who defend the idea that a new world and society based on technology and information/knowledge exchange will help in the construction of better conditions of living for everyone, ending poverty, leveling the conditions of life between northern and southern hemispheres, and east and western civilizations.

Knowledge: Is a fluid composed of experiences, values, context information and apprehension about their own field of action that provides a cognitive apparatus for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information.

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