Keeping Up With Education As It Evolves Around Us

The Education Transformation

How has the Internet been an asset to educators?

With the invention of the World Wide Web it has transformed many things that we do, the way we do them and what we learn while doing them.  During this digital age, access to education has become more prominently. Colleges’ and University’s across the country have been able to offer classes on-line to traditional and non-traditional students.  Included in this transformation is the way educators, educate students and present on-line learning on a platform that will give them a good learning experience, have evidence that they are in fact learning, find out how they learn best, because we all learn differently, and have an interactive way to communicate and assess students. Some of the other advantages that the internet presents for educators are; “enhances flow of information (collaboration through communication over distance); allows for intellectual exploration; provides the capability to store, process and transmit messages; breaks down barriers to communication (status differences/geographical boundaries); eliminates stereotypical classifications as well as preconceived barriers related to individual/personal bias; provides a certain amount of anonymity; enhances existing interaction patterns; creates new interaction patterns; provides for a constant flow of ideas; allows timely sharing of ideas; supports open discussion and exploration; provides accessibility to information and subsequent sharing of the same; enhances the sharing of multiple ideas and viewpoints simultaneously with a large group of people; provides a forum for experimenting; allows for the neutral mediation of communication (messages); establishes a safe environment with less risk to communicators (people feel less inhibited about communicating their ideas/opinions/feelings about certain issues); fosters more participation and contribution from people who would otherwise feel intimidated (introverts); convenient; flexible; emotions are communicated more descriptively (emotions must be articulated in print); fosters independent learning (learn/communicate at your own pace); allows participants to communicate with experts (learn from the best); allows participants to learn from others without feeling like an idiot ; facilitates thoughtful scholarly discourse; allows for fun, exciting and challenging communication (curiosity is aroused by interaction).”(Lane, 2014)

The listed advantages are all great assets to educators. Opening up the lines of communication is exactly what is needed to aid in the development of educators and the students that they teach. The internet can provide training programs for educators so they can learn the software needed to present on-line learning to their classes, presented in many different ways. It provides constant access to learning materials that may be needed in their classrooms. I like the statement, “it provides a constant flow of ideas and fosters independent learning.” (Lane, 2014)   With on-line classes being offered, more and more people are getting their education on-line and like “learning independently” (Lane, 2014), and not attending the classroom.  This is how I like to learn.  People develop in their own environment, well.  They also receive well and are able to have a “flow of ideas,” (Lane, 2014) if they are not surrounded by several others in a classroom. I feel that educator’s jobs have changed due to the variety of ways that they can teach and the resources that they have available to them has also increased significantly. 

Educators use computers and the internet in their classes to prepare for and to manage their classes.  Instructional materials are created for student lesson plans, quizzes and testing.  Teachers also keep administrative records on-line for themselves that can replace planners and other book work that was previously completed manually.  When educators are using on-line reporting, it helps to connect with parents as to how their child is doing in class.  I know as a parent I can access my daughter’s grades on-line, which is a huge asset for me.  I can keep track of how she is doing and communicate with the teacher if I see a problem and get it corrected quickly.  Also if the teacher has a question for me he/she will always e-mail me. 

“Sixty-six percent of public school teachers reported using computers or the Internet for instruction during class time.”  “Forty-one percent of teachers reported assigning students work that involved computer applications such as word processing and spreadsheets to a moderate or large extent; 31 percent of teachers reported assigning practice drills and 30 percent reported assigning research using the Internet to a moderate or large extent.”(Institute of Education and Sciences, 2014)

When educators use the internet as a resource they are opening up the learning environment.  Educators can construct their own classes and create their own books.  Through educational technology students can learn in different ways and the knowledge will stick with them and help them to become a better student using the technology that they are used to.

The Internet Poses Problems for Educators

In what ways has the Internet posed challenges for educators?

Social media has posed challenges for some educators due to the rise of issues that creep into schools in ways that can cause trouble. Students are posting information that exposes them to invasions of privacy and safety threats. “School bullies can turn to social-networking pages as a way to torment their victims.” “On occasion, students have anonymously created pages, often with humorous intent, that purpose to be those of principals or teachers.” (Trotter, 2006).  Social media has grown since this article was written.  Now, MySpace is not popular, it is Facebook, Twitter, and a variety of social media where a false account can be set up to influence or harm a student in an educators name.  This can be mentally and physically harmful and the educator is put in a bullying role which of course will be very challenging should this continue to the point where the child harms themselves or others.

            “For teachers making the digital leap, one of the greatest hurdles can be figuring out how to manage the tech-infused classroom.” “How do you keep kids, who suddenly have the Internet at their fingertips, on task?” (Heitin, 2013)  This challenge for educators will be ongoing.  Students, advanced and intrigued about using the internet will tend to venture into on-line games, social media, and web browsing if internet use is not controlled by the teacher.

The Digital Generation

How has the “digital generation” changed how we teach and learn?

Today’s “digital generation” is very tech-savvy and need to be taught on that platform.   They even think differently and retain information differently. “Learning must be shaped for the individual.” “Learning opportunities should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week .” 

(Kelly, McCain, Jukes, 2009)  I believe it is a good idea to offer a variety of learning opportunities that the student can have access to 24 hours a day.  Students stay up all night some times and somewhere in that time they will do their homework.  They stay up playing games, and if they have homework that needs to be done they can do it at a different time instead of between the hours of 7:30 - 2:30 p.m.  This is a general school schedule and sometimes this is not enough time for students to get things done that need to be.  Students can also access their books digitally and soon there will not be any need for libraries because they can get what they need on line.  Digital technology has transformed the way we educate ourselves and our students.             Students should be assessed and tested in a different way.  “Assessment must measure both facts learned and the application of those facts to solve real world problems.” (Kelly, McCain, Jukes, 2009)   “Assessment strategies must therefore be widened to include a broad range of measures for student achievement.” (Kelly, McCain, Jukes, 2009) The assessments used to measure what a student has learned has to be changed because students have changed.  The basics are better learned through instructional technology that can be assessed, corrected, and communicated to the student with a short turnaround time.  With the birth of the digital age others are evolving and working to close the digital divide.

Strengths & Weakness of On-line Learning

What are the strengths and caveats of fully online instruction?

The internet has been up and running for a long time and most people, but not all have access and use it daily.  It is very familiar to them and online instruction would come easy to them.  I would totally be for full on-line learning as it lets you learn at your own pace and in your own space and time.  I also believe that on-line learning levels the playing field. “In the online environment, learners have a certain measure of anonymity.” “Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are largely absent.”(Illinois Online Network, 2014) In this environment you can focus on what is being taught and not who is around your and the pace that they are learning.

But, what about those that don’t have internet access.  Learning presented totally on-line would not work for them and they would miss out on their education opportunities. It’s hard to believe but some people in this day and age are still not computer savvy.  On-line learning may be hard for them since they would be spending most of their time trying to figure out how to get the computer to work and get fed up before they participate in the on-line instruction. Most people are very computer savvy and would welcome on-line learning.

“While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners.”(Illinois Online Network, 2014) This statement is true to some degree but I believe instructional technology taught on a platform that is familiar to independent and dependent students would work to their advantage.  As I stated before people learn differently and if this is how they learn best, then it should be done.  This goes back to assessment and using the results to measure how students learn.

Full blown on-line learning could be hindered by the educators that are not that familiar with new technology and do not want to change or move out of the classroom.  Some people are not willing to learn new things because they feel they have done enough and teaching the way they teach has been doing well and they don’t have a mindset to make instructional technology part of their everyday lesson plan. For those educators that are, I appreciate all of their hard work and willingness to provide more opportunities for on-line learning. 

The strengths out weight the weaknesses of on-line learning in my opinion.  When students are presented the opportunity to learn on-line, instead of in the classroom, they will take the option that puts them in the arena where they are comfortable and well equipped.

References

Computer-Mediated Communication in the Classroom:  Asset or Liability?

 Lane, D. (1994). Computer-mediated communication in the classroom:  Asset or liability?

[Abstract] Abstract retrieve from http://www.uky.edu/~drlane/techno/cmcasset.htm

 

How do teachers direct their students to use computers and the Internet? (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2014, from http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/frss/publications/2000090/index.asp?sectionid=2

 

Heitin, L. (2013, October 14). For Teachers, Wired Classrooms Pose New Management Concerns. Education Week.

 

Jaschik, S. (2009, June 29). The Evidence on Online Education. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/29/online

 

Kelly, F.S, McCain, T, Jukes, I (2009). Teaching the Digital Generation: No More Cookie Cutter High Schools

 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/overview/strengthAndWea...

 

Trotter, A. (2006, February 14). Social-Networking Web Sites Pose Growing Challenge for Educators. Education Week.