The Internet and learning in class
A few weeks ago, it hit me that Google and the Internet were having a quite profound effect on learning. The Google effect is the idea that students and teachers are increasingly using the digital platform to try and figure out what they need to know, with the result that we are using the Internet in surprising ways and augmenting how we teach.
This trend in teaching is particularly strong in South Korea, with all teaching and learning changing in South Korea because of it. According to them, the Internet has been an important part of their education. In fact, over 70% of teachers say they have started to use the Internet at least in some part to teach students in some way.
The flip side to this is the amount of research these digital tools are doing. There’s a lot of research coming out of Silicon Valley that is helping to build the necessary tools to allow the Internet to be used in the classroom. As a result, there is an increased volume of education apps available to students and teachers. It’s all an acceleration of what is already happening.
Apps such as Mozamo, currently in the B-schools at top US universities, have been created by startups to get smarter and faster about their course management. They give students the ability to personalize their classes with the aim of more effectively learning, especially in the US.
It seems that in the past few years, more and more students have come to rely heavily on the Internet for how they learn. It’s no longer surprising to hear about a school where books were always replacing iPads, or where kids used Skype, instead of classroom instruction.
If the only thing you had at school was your textbook, and the classes were via video conference, and people studied past lunchtime, and there was no homework after school, then you would know what students would be doing at 8:20PM on a Sunday morning!
The Internet has provided a lot of outlets that do indeed act as resources to children as well as adults. By downloading an app or “interacting” with a group online, students get the opportunity to write about something that interests them. They are then put in touch with subject matter experts to ask questions.
In the past, students had to go to a library to learn more about what they needed to do, which was limited to finding books, and then go into a teacher to find the help they needed to read it or write about it.
Even though the teacher may have sent a few books, it was going to be an ordeal of checking the volume out by hand. This was limited to the classroom, with limited option for what they could read. They would need to get homework assignments from the teacher who sent them, and find their own methods for getting involved in the subject.
These things may seem odd at first, but we can see a definite change in the way students learn. There is a boom in a lot of education companies, which leverage the Internet to help give students what they need to learn.
While some of them use the Internet as a way to encourage real interaction, others use the Web as a means to do more analytical and spell-checking. Others just use the Web to let students become involved in a debate and analyze words as others try to understand and apply them to the broader world.
The evidence from this boom shows that the Internet does not have to just be a platform for sitting down and learning. It can be a platform for everything.