The digital age: Changing how we educate, learn, and conduct business

Many researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs claim that the digital age is changing the way we think and learn, and how the economy works (for example: Bates, Bautista, Brown, Michalski, Rosenberg, Siemens, Suarez, Tapscott, Watson, Weller, and White, to name only a few). The themes that arise from these claims centre on relationships, connections, and abundance. This blog will explore the concept of abundance and how that is changing the nature of education.

According to Weller (2011) and Michalski (2011), traditional education is based on scarcity. Michalski (2011) claims that even curiosity is scarce in traditional classrooms. I agree with Michalski, and this lack of curiosity is the main reason why I homeschooled my four children.

The digital age has allowed this curiosity to continue, or resurface, in adulthood.

Image from Don Tapscott's video, "The Net Generation."
Tapscott, D. (2015). “The Net Generation.” ideacity [YouTube]. Retrieved from (at 25:05).
According to both Weller (2011) and Michalski (2010), content and experts are no longer scarce due to forums, blogs, videos, content-sharing sites, wikis, and social networks that connect peers, experts, and learners. “The old one-way media highway is now two-way, and crowded. Barriers are falling everywhere…People are collaborating. Ideas are having sex” (Michalski, 2010, 4th paragraph).

This abundance has created pressure on institutions to change the way they provide education (Tapscott, 2016). This abundance is also changing the way we need to view learning (Siemens, 2005). One could argue that the abundance of information does not lead to knowledge; however, what one does with that information does lead to knowledge.

According to Tapscott (2015), millennials are the smartest generation in history due to the fact that they are not passive recipients of the information, as previous generations have been, but active generators, initiators, organizers, authenticators, and composers of the information. This generation is now entering the workforce and universities. Their expectations of what should be available to them are far different than the expectations of previous generations. Educators need to be prepared to accept these millennials as active creators of their own learning and businesses need to be willing to adapt to the reality of “a smarter, interconnected, mobile, always-on consumer force” (Suarez, 2013, 1st paragraph, bolded and italicized as in original).


Bates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. BC Campus. Retrieved

Bautista, S. S. (2013). Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture. USA: AltaMira Press.

Brown, J. S. (2002). Learning in the digital age. M. Devlin, R. Larson, and J. Meyerson (Eds). The Internet & the University: Forum 2001. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved

Michalski, J. (2010, June 4). What is the Relationship Economy? [Weblog post]. Retrieved

Michalski, J. (2011, Nov. 13). Scarcity vs abundance in our schools. [Prezi] Retrieved

Rosenberg, M. (2001). E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age. USA: McGraw-Hill.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning (ITDL), January, pp. 1-8.

Suarez, L. (2013, Sept. 3). Giving up control in the era of open business. [Weblog post]. Retrieved

Tapscott, D. (2015). The net generation. [YouTube]. Retrieved

Tapscott, D. (2016, May 10). Universities must enter the digital age or risk facing irrelevance. The Star. Canada:The Toronto Star Press Centre. Retrieved must-enter-the-digital-age-or-risk-facing-irrelevance.html

Watson, R. (2010). Future Minds: How the Digital Age is Changing Our Minds, Why This Matters, and What We Can Do About It. USA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, pp. 223-236. Retrieved

White, G. K. (2013). Digital fluency: Skills necessary for learning in the digital age. Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved article=1006&context=digital_learning


  1. Great post Martha! I agree with you! The world is definitely reflecting connectivist ways as we navigate from network to network and it is crucial for people, businesses etc. to recognize this. It is also VERY crucial for us, as educators, to make sure we are leading our learners in the right direction. With so much information accessible at the click of a button or the tap of a screen, we need to make sure our learners are equipped with the knowledge of how to find good, reliable, and valid information sources. We too are learning how to do this now in our program with RRU and I am eager to share this information with others!!!

    1. Definitely, Kim. Critical thinking has always been an important aspect of education, for all: children, youth, and adults. We need to make sure young children also have the opportunity to learn how to critically reflect and analyze. I read about an interesting method called Socratic Circles. Have you heard of that or used it? It’s apparently used quite successfully with young children. Here’s a video that shows a grade 3 class using it: And here’s some lesson plans using this method (for younger children): I think I might try incorporating this into my ESL classes. It likely would work well!

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