Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘information overload

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC by 2.0

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

First of all, what do we mean by information overload? It is that feeling of falling down a dark hole when there is too much information to carry out a task. So even simple tasks can be made difficult when we are faced with too many options and no specific direction.

For example, you may need to find out about main theorists for a subject for your UCAS application. As Confucius is credited with saying ‘You can not open a book without learning something.’ There are entire libraries online and offline devoted to human knowledge. Where do you start?

If you have access to lots of information this gives you the chance to be selective and find a direction. The trouble is how can you be selective without being biased or limited? How can you read it all? We all need help with overcoming our biases, speed reading and managing time. The key is not learning willy-nilly (although this can be great too sometimes!) but to focus on what you need to learn for the task at hand. Finding the most appropriate, relevant nuggets of information is the ultimate challenge of academic study (and who knows, probably in life too!).

There is no one way to cope with information overload. We would like to hear about your advice to other students on that awful feeling of being overwhelmed with too many sources, too many theories, too many words. What do you do? What if you are dyslexic? What if you are starved for time?

If you post a tip to us by email, on Twitter or in the LRC and you may receive a World Science Day calendar thanks to UNESCO.

'Internet es aburrido' by Daniel Lobo is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

Internet es aburrido‘ by Daniel Lobo is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

Ebooks, ejournals, eresources…what is this ‘e’ all about? You may know ‘e’ stands for electronic. 99% of the time that means something available on the internet. But as I hope I can convince you, e also means extra. Getting your hands on the pages of a book is not the be all and end all of learning. For example, books often have recommended web links to access more information online. As they are coming from expert authors these extra resources are bound to be quite good.

You can view the Oxford University Press’ YouTube playlists to find inspiring topics and academics in many fields such as psychology, science and history. They also feature authors of their Very Short Introduction series to get you hooked on a new subject. Don’t worry about information overload they are usually only 5 minutes long and can satisfy your curiosity or send you in a new direction. Bear in mind they want you to read their book, but you don’t have to. The same goes with TED talks which are engaging summaries and snippets from academics and experts. They will often have written lots of information on their subjects but a TED talk will be a good overview and introduction. Also lots of advice for learning online. This one by Eli Pariser (2011) talks about online ‘filter bubbles’.

So keep an eye out next time you open a book for extra resources you can access online. Tell us about your favourites.

The internet is boring…*No it’s not.

El Planeta Apple by Jorge Elias is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

El Planeta Apple by Jorge Elias is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

This week Pre-Access To Higher Education students have been putting forward working titles for their projects. Many are tackling current health and social issues.

The research process has lots of steps. Some steps might not even seem like steps at all because they all overlap and you may go back and forth between them. One ‘step’ in starting a project is scouting out possible information sources for up-to-date numbers and research to spark ideas.

Getting a feel for what information is out there will also help you narrow your topic down to something manageable.

It is also perfectly normal to feel anxious about the amount of information out there. Don’t worry yet about analysing your information sources – they exist, and you can access them if you need them, that is what is important to start with.

Here are some free, authoritative and timely sources of information and data on the web:

Check out the VLE eresources page too for paid subscriptions to information sources.

Of course we have lots of books such as subject encyclopaedias to start you off too. Come in to the LRC and browse.


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