Monday, February 23, 2009

the Internet and learning

According to Paglia, "The computer has literally reshaped the brain of those who grew up with it, just as television and rock music reshaped the brains of my baby-boom generation..." I 100% agree with this statement. We grew up with computers and now they are more important than ever... important enough for a class about them! Every part of our future is going to be effected by the technology that we embrace and develop. If the Web is ever-expanding then by the time we're 30 it is hard to imagine what could be possible. It can literally hold a never ending amount of information about anything and everything. This means that we have knowledge at the palm of our hands. With one click of a mouse we can learn about anything we want. This convergence of the Internet as an Encyclopedia can truly bring together anybody with a computer. Anything we are interested in learning about can also be discussed with people all around the world. We can get the perspective of a colleague, friend, professor, someone from another country, anyone with Internet access, etc.
With the vast amount of information that the Internet holds, it only makes sense for it to be used more and more in classrooms around the world. With hypertext linking one to many different sites about the same information anything can be covered. Gibson suggests, "It contains more, covering the ground that could be covered by hundreds of books in a single hypermedia package." Students no longer have to go to the library and look through many different books looking for specific information. We can now just type something into a search engine and find information a million times easier. Of course there is always the question of figuring out if a website is legitimate. In my Digital Media and Cyberculture class we learned that there are five different criteria for evaluating websites. You have to look for: accuracy, authority, coverage, currency, and objectivity.
Gibson also goes into detail the idea of the Internet vs. traditional textbooks. I believe that this is a tricky discussion. While the benefits of using the Internet in the classroom can be obvious, there are also many negative effects. Without a normal textbook filled with simple words on a page, I think that it is more difficult for students to soak in the information that they need to know. Even though textbooks don't engage students in self-reflection and are not always given an opportunity to question what they are reading, it is much easier to concentrate on a textbook. I definitely think when I am highlighting something it gives me more of a reason to try to understand what I am reading. When it comes to the Internet, distraction and procrastination is a lot easier. In fact, just before writing this entry or whenever I struggle to think of what I want to write next, I'll head over to Facebook. Sometimes I'll be on for just a minute, other times I'll just get sucked in and could be on for as long as half an hour! I also feel as if it is so much harder to read something online. If I have a big reading assignment on E-Res I'll always print it out because I feel as if I need control over what I read.
There of course are benefits to hypertexts as well. Users are able to become authors and linkers. They can respond to the text and question the author by becoming authors themselves. For the first time, students can have some sense of control in the classroom. Who knows how the classroom will change once we graduate, but I'm sure it will definitely be geared more towards the Internet.

Listening to: The Beatles- Penny Lane


  1. ahh-yes, I just posted something similar to this, but from my experiences. The internet is so vast with different types of information for everyone and that's why I love it..We can all associate with at least a few sites which is why It is so great!

  2. I fully agree with your thoughts about online texts, I cant read long papers/readings online. The easy access of the internet is not only the great thing about being online but its also it catalyst. No matter what your doing on the internet, everyone procrastinates.

  3. It's an interesting trade-off. Learning requires active participation from the student, but is it as effective without much in the way of guidance or discipline?