Digitization has changed the way societies receive information. The changes that have been brought about by digitization can be explained through five models: (a) the editorial model (b) economic Vitality (c) environmental accountability model (d) social responsibility model. Each of these models has three subcategories relating to professional, academic and student aspects.The editorial modelDigitization has made it easy for people to access the latest information that used to be transmitted through print media with ease. Today, many major newspaper publishing companies have introduced digital versions of the newspapers. These digital versions are easily accessible on the internet.Professional aspectMedia professionals sometimes find themselves being overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to seek in order to quench the thirst for information by internet visitors. In the hurry to look for more and more information, it becomes difficult to verify the sources for authenticity.Digitization makes it easy for students, professors, researchers and policymakers to access current and up-to-date information with ease. There is an abundance of information on any topical issue. This is unlike a few decades ago when it was difficult to find a digital version of a newspaper. Today, students are likely to find themselves relying on digitized version of scholarly materials.The main problem with this approach to academic research is that credibility of research can easily be jeopardized since the internet is a hub of both information that is authentic and one that is not authentic. Students are sometimes thought to be the biggest users of digitized content for research purposes. It is likely that not all their instructors and professors know that they are using digitized library materials to conduct research. In this kind of scenario, it becomes very difficult for regulations to be put in place so that proper research habits can be inculcated in students.Digitization makes it easy for students to access information fast, with ease and effectively, making it easy for them to avoid the inconveniences of brick-and-mortar libraries. However, lack of funds brings about imbalances in the world of scholarly engagements. Some countries lag behind in development of digital libraries, yet all students have to compete with their endowed counterparts in terms of academic excellence.Other challenges that make it difficult for digitization to be a successful approach to education include lack of enough digital and online facilities and shortage of inadequate skilled manpower to deal with problems associated with information technology.
Economic Vitality (Business/circulation model)Professional aspectAs the internet continues to develop, the economic aspects of education keep on changing. One of these changes is occasioned by digitization. Through digitization, it is possible to access scholarly materials with ease. In some cases, authors have complained that digitization sometimes leads to violation of copyright laws (Alhaji, 2007). When books are available freely on the internet, the authors stop getting income that they previously used to get since readers can access them freely.However, many digitized books and journal articles can only be accessed upon payment of a subscription fee. This way, digitization provides educationists with an alternative way of earning incomes whenever the books they have authored are read.For digitization to bring about educational sustainability, two conditions need to be met: first, the money generated through subscription must be equivalent to if not more than what the author would earn if the book was sold in a local store. Secondly, the authors must be given the right to change the terms of agreement entered into by online search engines on how to make book sales. These changes may be occasioned by future technological changes vis-à-vis the dynamics of the global economy.Academically, the internet remains a rich and flexible source of information. Many people are worried that academic materials that are in the form of traditional prints may lose relevance. However, it is unlikely that people will stop buying the traditional books just because digitized versions exist. Apart from the advantages associated with portability, there is a certain unique sense of attachment that people derive from reading printed academic materials. In this regard, it is reasonable to conclude that digitized references will continue to co-exist with traditional forms of academic references.For students, the economic benefits that are to be derived from digitization relate to issues of whether more value is added to learning materials as a result of the new technology or not. Today, digitized content is easy to navigate because of intertextuality features. For this reason, students perceived digitized books worth more the traditional books.Environmental Accountability Model
Digitization contributes both positively and negatively to environmental awareness issues. By reducing the number of books that are printed and stored in local libraries, digital technology results in reduction of exploitation of wood resources, which are the primary products in manufacture of newsprint papers used in publication of books.On the negative side, professionals in developing countries find themselves competing for compliance with the fast pace of digitization. They are forced to recommend that educational institutions import used computers which break down only a few years after they are purchased. This leads to accumulation of electronic wastes. The environmental impact of these wastes is a major threat to sustainable development of education through digitization.Although times are changing a lot, some things will just remain the same. It is not possible to think about a university without books on the shelves of libraries, where students, researchers and professor can meet in an atmosphere that is traditionally conducive for research work. Moreover, some scholars, in most cases, those who are considered to be conservative, think that digital libraries are not environmentally sustainable (Banks, 1994).One of the reasons given for lack of sustainability of education on the digital space is that it interferes with an individual's level of concentration. It is true that when one is searching for information on the internet, he is likely to wander away from the topic of interest into other websites that deal with issues like social networking, chat, video conferencing, and gaming. This seldom happens in the traditional brick and mortar library.Additionally, the human-computer interface, if not used in the right way, may lead to many problems including eyesight complications, backaches and very strong headaches. Additionally, it may be more difficult to inculcate proper environmental management and research methods in children using computers.Social Responsibility ModelProfessional aspectDigital technology has been highly commercialized in recent years. In all commercial settings, societal concerns do not take a center stage since the top priority is maintaining competition. Professionals have a very important role to play in steering the course of digitized education systems towards the right direction. To ensure sustainability, there is need for corporate social responsibility initiatives which can be accessed at the same time that researchers are accessing research information.For professionals, the greatest challenge is that of coming up with websites that counter the negative effects of digital media. A good approach to this form of responsibility would be offering free guidelines to students on how to maintain the best research habits, to overcome distractions that exist in the information superhighway and to deal with environmental challenges that come with digitization.Maintaining sustainability in the world of academia is a great challenge. Many scholars have not gotten used to the idea of scholarly exchanges that are conducted entirely on the internet. The establishment of an online community of scholars, students and education policy makers would help set a good precedent on positively digitized sources of education can be transformed into positive social change. It is upon the major corporate players engaged in the digital business to sponsor such online forums in order for them to become highly popular.The digital divide that exists today in the dissemination and sharing of academic resources at the global level does not augur well for education. As education continues to take a global outlook, so do the disparities between those who have access to digitized education and those who do not (Collis & Moonen, 2001). In this regard, ICT education is desperately needed especially in rural areas in developing countries. The best way of supporting digital education platforms, says Banks (2006), is reaching out to these people and providing them with ICT tools for use in education.Students are often confronted by many challenges relating to inexperience on how to use digitized materials. The success of education in the digital era lies on the extent to which these students are offered help in the spirit of corporate social responsibility. For an educated society to be sustained through digitization, the ventures entered into by corporate players should bring about the participation of managers of educational institutions and experienced students.Media companies could engage students of higher institutions of learning in sponsored and salaried researches involving verification of authenticity and credibility of digitized academic information. Such researches have been going on although their effectiveness still remains to be seen and appreciated by different players in the world of academia (Kafai & Mitchel, 1996).Information and communication technology companies possess untold financial abilities to improve the welfare of authors who feel that digitization may rob them of their copyright protections if these changes are not accompanied by appropriate legislation. To some extent, notes Russow (2003), major search engines possess powerful anti-plagiarism tools that ensure that no one publishes another person's ideas as his own. However, making these efforts is one thing, winning the confidence of all educational stakeholders at the global level is another thing. Unless this is done, the academic community may continue to be reluctant to provide their written work to be digitized.Modern ICT technologies have made it possible for educational resources to be put in digital form that is versatile to use, easy to refer to and convenient to access. However, there are imbalances in usage that affect the professionals, the academic standards as well as student. These imbalances relate to accessibility to digital tools as well as the skills and expertise that come with them these tools.Apart from these imbalances, other challenges include negative economic impact, challenges of authenticity of editorial content, environmental problems, and the need for corporate social responsibility. For these reasons, it is too early to think a world where the educated society is sustained solely by digitization.