All posts authored by Santino Zhakata
The age we live in is sometimes referred to as the information age. It is likely that there has never been an age in human history before, where so much information about so many things, has been so accessible for individuals. While knowledge has existed among humans throughout time, those who had access to it were few due to different privileges.
In this age, through digital technology, access to information has been made possible to most people.
There is of course wide talk about the digital divide debate, which implies that since most knowledge and information available in our time is, to a very large extent, accessible in digital format, this creates a big gap between those who have access to information and those who do not. This gap is caused by access to digital technology like the internet and by knowledge of using these digital tools. People who are computer literate and have access to the world-wide web, have better access to a wide range of information than those who have neither. The assumption is that the "haves", will increasingly have an upper hand in access to information as compared to the "have-nots". The other side of the argument in this debate is that technology and the digital age are an end in themselves since most digitally skilled people are relying on technological tools more and more to manage, organise and execute the minute details of their lives. . Entire cities and services hang on the prefix of a functional digital infrastructure. This digital dependency has resulted in creating societies that are basically plugged into devices all the time. Imagine what would happen if "the plug is pulled" or "the fuse blows up" or something and the world is left without internet access for an undetermined period. Today, with so much knowledge at the finger tips, the choice of what to prioritise can be difficult or misguided. While plenty of tips, guides, courses and tutorials on how to survive in the event of a digital collapse are available online, they might not seem so important now, until it´s too late. Won't that be ironic ? It makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Let's not dwell on the depressing side, but instead celebrate on the wonderful possibilities that digital technology has given to those with access and competence to tap into it. Consider just how much information is being shared online on how -to-do something or to-be something. Through videos and publications, programs, courses , lectures and tutorials, skills and knowledge have become huge commodities that are being consumed on a regular basis by digital users. Whole careers can be made just by accessing these vast resources. I remember when I was a young man in Zimbabwe and had the love for learning and reading flooding in my body, the library was my gig. I grew up among uncles and aunts who were avid readers and who applied what they read. All from how to raise guinea pigs to how to construct a wooden toy cart which I would sit in, paddle forward and steer. We had a family library, literary, that used to loan books to neighbours and close friends in our township. My uncle had made a rubber stamp from an old car tyre and had carefully carved out the letters with razor. It read "A Zhakata book...Read and return".
When I got to school going age up until when I myself began to teach, physical libraries and books had been the biggest source of knowledge. As a teacher, one of the biggest challenges was to help make rural students (who most likely had no electricity thus no tv or visual electronic device to watch) to visualise abstract concepts or things like the solar system and the planets in orbit for example. Most rural schools in Zimbabwe were/are poor and as a result lack enough good textbooks to use. When I as a teacher began to use the internet as a learning resource at a rural school I taught, students could see and watch some processes in action, illustrated for example, thus improve their understanding. I believe strongly that improving access to digital resources in rural schools can launch them far into their goal while at the same time sparing them from old, outdated , insufficient and torn textbooks that kids huddle around during geography or reading subjects.
Outside of the school environment, professionals and career people access self improvement and capacity building resources online, from tutorials on different software tools and programs, to tips and guides about planning, organising and prioritising among other vast fields and topics. New skills, programs and software are being introduced in the professional world constantly. For one to be a competitive and skilled professional, it is vital to take advantage of various resources available online. While formal education has been a great resource to me, some online courses and tutorials that I can take advantage of , have contributed immensely in sharpening my professional aptitude and getting me towards the career goal that I have set out to. On this space I will continue to post and discuss some of the various skills and knowledge that I find interesting and enriching. My goal is to keep up with skills and competences on demand in the professional field of media and communication. I owe that possibility to the wonderful digital resources of this age.
© Santino Zhakata 2011
I am Santino Zhakata, born in Zimbabwe, living in Sweden. I do a lot of writing, photography , blogging and website creation for fun and for profit. My fields of expertise include teaching and tutoring English via distance or face to face. I also specialise in communication for development. Welcome to my blog, feel free to share your thoughts.