New models of information production – characteristics and challenges

The Internet can be viewed as an open, digital network of globally connected users and computerised devices that provides a dynamic platform for the creation, storage, dissemination and consumption of information and knowledge.

The digital nature of the internet allows for the creation, storage and dissemination of content (irrespective of format – text, sound, image, hyperlinks) through any of the networked computers that make up the internet. The digital nature makes it easy to be replicated, manipulated, changed, stored and transmitted with accuracy and speed. Digital representation of data and information is freed from temporal and spatial constraints, enabling new models of information production that are interactive, easily and immediately accessed, shared and distributed.

The open nature of the internet supports the creation of new models of information production in a number of ways: The open architecture provides global penetration and access across physical and national boundaries. The fact that the internet is open and decentralised – not hierarchical – allows it to evolve and grow in creative, innovative and unrestricted ways. The open accessibility of the internet – not controlled or owned – encourages free and open expression and participation; gives a voice, encourages civic participation, connects and empowers. See Table 1 for a more detailed presentation, by West (2016), of internet openness.

Elements of Internet Openness (according to West, 2016)

It is the digital and open characteristics of the internet that allowed the development of the World Wide Web (WWW) through hyperlinks and hypertext. The creation – and open sharing – of the WWW provided the stepping stone needed for the development of a plethora of (Web 2.0) tools and applications, which in turn gave rise to open, social and participatory media that enabled the development of new models of information production (Conole, 2013, pp. 50-51).

De Saulles (2012, p. 13) identifies the mass adoption of computing devices for professional and personal applications, and the rise of the internet as distribution platform, as the main reasons for the increased rate that information is being created and consumed, as well as for the rise of new models of information production. He states that although new evolutionary models (such as blogs and podcasts) are similar to traditional formats (such as newspapers and radio broadcasts), they make use of the characteristics of the internet to be more social, participatory and accessible on demand. Revolutionary models – such as search engines (e.g. Google) and social media platforms (e.g. Facebook) – are revolutionary and only possible because of the internet’s unique characteristics. See his slideshow below for his view in more detail:


The challenges (to educators, information professionals and other users) associated with the new models of information presentation are archetypal of the changed information environments, as identified by Bawden and Robinson (2009, pp.182-186): Information is no longer scarce, but in oversupply; the “paradox of choice” is aggravated by the increasing diversity of information (in terms of format, complexity and varying perspectives). The open, social and participatory nature of Web 2.0 tools – and new models of information production – bring with it issues concerning quality control (no editorial or peer-reviewed processes); loss of identity and authority, subjectivity, de-contextualised information and impermanence of information (Bawden and Robinson, 2009, p.186).

The new models of information productions enable creative ways to produce and share information, but are changing our information behaviour. As educators and information professionals we need to understand this behaviour better, if we are going to effectively employ these models in facilitating and supporting 21st century learning.



Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: Overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. The Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180-191.

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer New York.

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: New models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). Retrieved from

West, J. (2016, May). Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series: Vol. 35. A framework for understanding internet openness. Retrieved from


The digital age and possibilities for re-imagining our educational system

The convergence of computing, information and communication technologies into one device, affordable and usable by most, has resulted in the development of a transformed information-rich world. With these mobile devices, we became nodes points in a global information ecosystem, socially connected in interactive knowledge environments that transcend the restrictions of our physical world.

Almost every aspect of our personal, professional and societal lives has been transformed by the tools and products of this digital age. Two important examples should be emphasised:

• New participatory media formats use web-based technologies to enable recipients of information messages to be active participants in knowledge creation. Interactive platforms allow experts and voxpop voices to join, in creating, discussing and distributing user-generated information products in many formats.

• Cloud computing makes improved productivity and knowledge building possible through immediate communication channels and tools for collaboration. These improved data storage facilities make digitisation of our collective societal knowledge and cultural heritage possible in online digital repositories.

The new digital age is having a significant impact on the learning environment: on when, where and how we learn. Multi-formatted online resources and participatory media enables self-directed, self-paced, individualised, personal and differentiated authentic learning. The role of teachers is changing from deliverers of content to creators of context (Thomas, 2012). The classroom, where learning was traditionally initiated by teachers, has expanded beyond walls, lectures and textbooks and can become truly learner-centred. Connected learning provides an existing model that makes use of the products of the digital age to re-imagine our traditional education system.

While some educators suggests that the students of today are intuitive and “native” users of new media formats and tools, we need to better understand the competencies and proficiencies that are required of learners to be literate in this digital age.

What now is the role of school libraries in this digital age? Libraries should support learning where and when it takes place. This means a dynamic, physical learning space and an equally well-designed virtual space, where librarians meet the information needs of teachers and students through curation of digital resources and tools and help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. How we will get there… THIS is the challenge that I hope to meet through my studies!

A VERY critical reflection on what I have learnt this far:

I am fascinated by the reading provided for Module 1. While the content was not new, I was challenged by so many of the authors to imagine how this digital world can transform our educational institutions and our thinking about learning. I am inspired, but that is the positive side…

It took far too long to read and grasp the required reading. I hope that as I become more familiar with the concepts and academic writing again, that I will be more efficient.

I have not participating in the online discussions yet, because the reading and setting up of the blog took too much time (I will do so this week). I believe as I find my voice I will be bolder, less worried about seeming ignorant and more comfortable with the tools we have been introduced to. I am very excited and in the right place, but still getting up to speed.


Thomas, D. (2012, September 12). A new culture of learning [Video file]. Retrieved from