Given the recent unprecedented times that we’ve all been living through, the internet has been a real lifeline for many using it, for everything from shopping to meetings and of course schooling. And what a boon it has been. But how has the internet impacted on how we learn in schools and colleges generally?
A little bit of history…
Think back to the days before the internet when, if you wanted to find something out or look something up it meant a trip to the school or college library and many hours looking through the indexes of books and encyclopaedias until you found what you wanted. Projects took far longer to complete and if you were studying remotely you were panicking while posting your essay to your tutor praying that it would get there in time.
And then the internet arrived and by the early noughties computers and logging online became second nature. Did you know that by 2005, there were almost 2 million computers in UK schools? Nearly all secondary schools (99.9%) had internet connection, while 80% of primary schools and 99% of secondary schools used interactive whiteboards for teaching. And we were off…
Both the internet and education are all about information exchange, communication, and the creation of knowledge. So almost the same thing really when you think about it.
‘The Internet isn’t just a powerful tool for communication. It’s arguably the most potent force for learning and innovation since the printing press’. This was said by Jeb Bush younger brother of George W Bush and is at the very centre of why the internet has such influence and positive attributes for students.
- The Internet allows education to take place on an any time, any place, any pace basis and allows students access to high quality learning opportunities regardless of their circumstances of place and time.
- It gives students access to sources of knowledge and expertise which may be far outside their immediate environment.
- The internet supports a massive connectivity between students, tutors, fellow students, and experts and has made us rethink the way that we learn.
And How Does This Affect Me?
If you are reading this blog, then you are receiving not just information but education. You’re learning about how the internet impacts on learning. And who doesn’t look things up on Google at least ten time a day to answer a question, to find something out or to prove a point?
And, going back to where we started with this question, how has the internet affected education. In the last four months or so, there would have been parents trying to teach school at home from books rather than having virtual classrooms and all of the internet resources available and college and university students unable to complete theses and projects. COVID-19 resulted in schools shut all across the world and globally, over 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom. Research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, and take less time, meaning the changes coronavirus have caused might be here to stay.
There are those who say that you can’t beat a good book and that’s also true and we shouldn’t lose the feel and the pleasure that can be got from a good old- fashioned read. But the internet is here to stay and will grow and increase, become even more popular and keep its place in our schools and colleges. As Bill Clinton said, ‘When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the World Wide Web… Now even my cat has its own page’.