1.5Mb! Why would I need more?

Technology continues to have a significant impact on our everyday lives but not only that, as technology advances at an ever quickening pace, so it changes our everyday lives.  During the last week two specific events have caused be to reflect on this.

The first event happened earlier this week when I came across the below tweet:

This got me reflecting on my own journey with computer systems and in particular the storage space and data which I interacted with.    My early life with computer systems involved 5 ¼ inch floppy disks and later the higher capacity 3.5 inch not so floppy variety.   The sum of all the data I could create and consume could be stored on 1.5Mb discs without any problem.    As time went on however it became apparent as my disc collection expanded into the hundreds that I needed a new storage solution to cope with the ever increasing amount of data I was both producing and consuming.   Enter my first proper IBM compatible PC complete with a whopping 500Mb hard drive.   This was the solution to all my problems or so I thought for a while anyway.   It wasn’t long before the 500Mb drive inside my nice new PC had to be provided with a friend to play with, in the shape of a 2nd 500Mb hard drive taking my total storage to the impossible to fill level of 1Gb of storage space.

I won’t bore you with the intervening years so let’s fast forward to the here and now.   My storage requirements these days run into terabytes and let me just say I have a few terabytes worth of data.    Part of this might be that I am a bit of a hoarder including keeping the data, files and other creations which I have developed over the last 10 years of so.   I may even be able to lay my hands on specific emails from 3 jobs and almost 10years ago.    Part of this may be the ever higher quality and complexity of creations and part may also be the increasing speed with which I can generate new digital data or content.     The tools I have at my disposal now allow me to create new content at a far faster rate than I could all those years ago working with 5 ¼ inch floppy discs.

This is the point I want to make here, that our ability to create and consume content is increasing at what must almost be an exponential rate as technology provides us new methods for both producing and creating content, plus to share this content for others to adapt and share again.     This brings us to the second of the events I mentioned at the start of this post.   While reading “The New Digital Network” I came across the below statement:

“Every future generation will be able to produce and consume more information [or content] than the previous one”

Given this it is important that we as teachers are adequately preparing our students to deal with this ever increasing amount of content for consumption plus to manage the increasing levels of content which they find themselves producing.       Students need to understand how search engines work and why certain items float to the top, they need to be able to evaluate information for validity using alternative sources to triangulate and confirm the truth.    They need to understand differing standpoints, religious differences, cultural differences, philosophical differences and ethical and moral differences.      Students then need to be able to present their own beliefs and viewpoints while understanding that others may disagree.   They need to understand how the content they produce will be stored and presented on the internet and how any shared content or information could have a profound impact on their life as it is now or in the future many years from now.

The above represent only a small number of the issues which we should be seeking to help students understand.   I would suggest that the current programmes of digital literacy and e-safety lessons barely begin to scratch the surface of the discussions we really need to be having with our students.


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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