Can you recall the days back when you were in school? It might seem like forever ago, but childhood memories tend to stay with us. Do you remember the time before the internet had been invented and computers in the classroom were rare at best?
I don’t think of myself as old (although as the days go by maybe I should), but our school district did not get their first computer lab until I was a senior in high school. And even then it was just computers with a few different applications, mostly word processing, that we used. The internet still was a decade or so away.
I still remember having to run to the encyclopedias when I needed to write a paper or heading to the library to spend hours on end completing my research. You had to be pretty familiar with the alphabet just to be able to find the topics you were looking for. Kids no longer get the joy of blowing the dust off the encyclopedia covers as we did, but that probably is not a bad thing. I must have inhaled as much of that dust as humanly possible without having my lungs permanently close up.
The internet really didn’t become the internet that we know now until the early to mid-2000s. Facebook wasn’t a real thing until around 2005. Just try explaining that to children nowadays that are on social media nonstop and have a phone in their pocket that is more powerful and can do more than the computers the astronauts had on the first trip to the moon. Below are merely a few ways how the internet has changed the face of education forever.
No Longer Need a One Room School House or Any School House
Education started off centuries ago with parents teaching their children how to read and write the best that they could from home. Next was a one-room schoolhouse where children of all ages were learning together. When you think about it, education hadn’t really changed much since then. Of course, the one room had changed to many rooms in a much larger building and the grade levels were split up, but it was still the same process. It has only been refined a bit more with money thrown at textbook publishers that charge an arm and a leg for their products.
Now with the internet, you can learn from your bedroom, in school, outside, in the car, or anywhere else you can think of. Experts can teach and tutor your kids from not just another city, but from another country. And nobody has to leave the comfort of their own hometown. Languages can now be learned from people who actually live in the region the language originated from. My first Spanish teacher sounded like she was learning the language right along with me, so I’m not sure she was qualified to teach it. This will no longer be a problem with video and audio apps that can bring the correct teacher right to you. Knowledge is instantly available at our fingertips. If you need a question answered, it can be in merely a few seconds.
Encyclopedias No More
Oh, the joys of searching through 30-pound encyclopedias in alphabetical order as you look for the main word you are researching. I guess one good thing about that was you were giving your arms a workout along with your brain. But the amount of time it would take you to find the right topic you were searching for would test the patience of even the calmest students.
Now it is as easy as typing the topic you are wanting to study into one of many search engines on the internet and mere seconds later enough information comes to your screen that it would take you days to read. Sure some of the information cannot be substantiated and could even be wrong, but if a student looks for quality sources then their research time is cut down immensely. It would seem that kids should be learning more just because the time it takes to get the answers to their questions is less. Not sure if that is how it works though.
Studying with Others
Remember when being placed in study groups in school was a huge inconvenience? If you didn’t finish up the project in the classroom, then you had to find ways to get together with your group partners some other way. This might have involved trekking miles to someone’s house or having to call each individual kid up on the phone. Parents were unhappy about it and the students were not thrilled.
With the internet, group projects are now a blessing and not a burden. Not only does texting allow for constant communication with one another, but group email and webcams make it easy to converse as well. And once again, you can do all of this with your dining room table acting as your desk and only a laptop in front of you. Group projects are no longer a problem at all.
I can still recall the times when I forgot my homework at home. When this happened, there were only two things you could do. You could tell the teacher you forgot your homework and throw yourself on the mercy of the court or call up your mom or dad to bring it to school and get yelled at in the process. Nowadays in junior high, high school, and college, it is getting rare if your homework is not turned in through attachments to an email, by “sharing” a document, or on a message board. And if your teacher still wants a printed copy and you forgot it at home, just reach into that magical “cloud” and print off a new copy from any computer.
There are those that liked the olden days where everything seemed to move at a slower pace and life was simpler. I feel that way much of the time as well. But when it comes to education, the advances in technology have improved the learning process mightily. Is it too long before we have a little computer implanted in our brain that provides us instant knowledge? Only the future will tell!