The Effects of the Internet on Learning
Thanks to the Internet, we all share and sometimes seek out our peers’ experiences and perspectives; in a way, the content and ideas disseminated across the web have a tangible influence on our own thinking and behavior. We may even make choices based on what’s in the popular press, or from a series of helpful “lessons learned” articles. This mix of impulsive exposure and self-centered satisfaction in making meaning out of our education seems like it would be chaotic, at best, and at worst, harmful.
How often do you start a new book, new blog post, or new article just to seek consensus with peers? Or, do you strive to get an understanding on a particularly tricky subject to the broadest set of readers possible? When we’re feeling creative or motivated, we often draw connections that point us to the source of what we’re working on. This part of our mind is essential to our continual development, but can be a downfall when it robs us of time to focus on internal and external growth. We can all benefit from learning more about how the Internet affects learning and development.
There is research on the influence that certain styles of learning have on how well one learns and how long one stays in that learning experience. Scientists have found that reading in the slow-paced Proustian form is consistently more satisfying than speed reading. That’s all very good, but how do we decide which kinds of learning paths are “good” and which ones are “bad”?
So, how do we know?
The four pillars of a meaningful life
Books on learning
The most common way to study is to read, and people of all ages are doing it at varying speeds and difficulty levels. While some people love to read so fast that the text makes your eyes strain, others would rather read at a slow-enough pace that it feels as though they’re in the middle of a conversation. Books on learning often include short lists of 5-10 books, and everyone gets a share of them. Some recommendations range from classics like Ancient Greece, Jane Austen, or Moby Dick, through new books like Lessons, An Explosive Book for Your Teaching Life, and Echoes.
Books on art
Online professionals (i.e. writers, editors, and designers) like these books on art because they are fun to browse and give them a goal. Other books on art, like Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, explore topics that many people are fascinated by, including friendship, perseverance, and childhood memories.
Teaching materials and a curriculum
In a world where we can find almost anything on the Internet, it’s hard to know where to start when we’re looking for help with our reading assignments, writing assignments, or other learning activities. However, some of the most interesting books on teaching point out concepts and strategies that are easy to learn at home or in a classroom. Alastair Humphreys, for example, touches on everything from teacher training to creative programming to creating unique learning ecosystems.
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Educators read these books, too. Our ability to learn is more dependent on the support we get from teachers, and even though they might not write books themselves, they can share resources and have lots of teachers reach out. Dr. Caroline LeRoy recommends books like Teen Buddies, Teaching Teens, and A Teen Mind for Kids for those who believe teens should be at the center of any classroom discussion.
Ways to evaluate learning, and others
Then there are various surveys on the subject. A 2014 report by the World Intellectual Property Organization finds that 58% of English language teachers agree that they work in a highly competitive environment where professional development is important to stay relevant. In this environment, books that say the same thing in different languages and over different formats can have a profound effect on students’ understanding of the lessons.
All these books aim to meet learners where they are in their learning journeys, and we may want to add others we haven’t yet considered! With just a few days left before the semester ends, it may be wise to start planning and doing a little more planning for next year’s learning experiences and exams! Remember, no just because your book or other resources are online doesn’t mean they don’t have different and different implications for learners!
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