Internet Use in the Educational Setting Term Paper

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Internet Use in the Educational Setting

The use of the Internet in the educational setting has become in recent years an important consideration in the promotion of new and more effective teaching methods and protocols. In many quarters, the use of the Internet in the classroom situation has been seen as a positive advance in educational praxis. Many educators are of the opinion that the inclusion of Internet technology and resources can have a positive impact on the learning process and can enhance the teacher's ability to deal with more inclusive and diverse classrooms. The term " interaction" which has become synonymous with the Internet, has been touted as a valuable methodology in expanding and enhancing the general educational environment.

However, in recent years the use of the Internet in the classroom has also been interrogated and subjected to a more critical gaze by many educationists. While many educators still maintain that this technology has enormous advantages and can have a profound effect on teaching and learning, a more reserved and critical approach have been adopted towards Internet inclusion among many teachers. This is a result of various practical aspects and issues such as the potential exposure to material that is harmful to the student; as well as concerns that material and sources on the Internet may be erroneous or misleading and not correctly researched.

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While in cannot be denied that the Internet and associated technologies can provide an exciting and positive learning experience, pundits warn against the carte blanch acceptance of all and any aspect of Internet technology and caution against an either or approach to the adoption of this technology. In other words, Internet technology in many instances cannot replace the intimate contact and personal interaction between teacher and student. At the same time Internet technology offers many advantages, especially in mixed classes where there are different rates of learning.

This paper will attempt to evaluate the significance of Internet use in the educational setting in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of this technology in the teaching and learning process.

The advantages of Internet technology

Term Paper on Internet Use in the Educational Setting the Assignment

Many pundits claim that the intersection between the Internet and the classroom is an ideal or "perfect" educational environment. (Lord, 2004, p. 20) This is a view that is encountered in numerous studies of the possibilities that new technologies offer in terms the enhancement of classroom activities.

An obvious advantage of the use of the Internet is the immediate access to a wide range of knowledge sources. Access to information in terms of libraries, references, sources etc. is an aspect that is much more user-friendly and accessible than older methods of finding books and researching information. The immediacy of this process over the Internet can aid the teacher and student in various ways -such as in a classroom discussion or project, where the flow of teaching need not be broken by the search for new information. Furthermore, "They can also be productivity tools, enabling students to gather and learn from information more efficiently" (Cunningham, 2001, p. 41)

More specifically, hypertext is a foundational aspect of the Internet and this element has been noted as providing a significant advantage in the learning process. Many teachers have commented positively on this aspect.

A some have experimented with using live hypertext (carefully prepared in advance to cover most of the points to be covered in class) as a way of responding interactively to student questions, or to create handouts which can go with the actual flow of class interaction. You could certainly use this technique to navigate and present the text of a complicated statute a lot more quickly than you could by saying, 'Now everybody turn to p.65, and look at section 302-2'."

Using Computers in the Classroom: An Electronic Discussion)

Another positive aspect that is often mentioned in the literature is the interactive nature of the Internet, which can promote a more independent and self-motivated form of learning. The interactive elements that are available via the Internet are not available in the average classroom. Their chief advantage in this respect is the learning possibilities of the student are expanded in an interest - driven way. Related to this aspect is interaction with peers. Students tend to learn more easily from interaction in online discussion forums and study groups that can be facilitated by the teacher.

It should also be noted that this form of teaching is in line with many contemporary pedagogical theories. For example, the constructivist perspective views learning and knowledge creation as an adaptive activity. This is related to the term interaction, in that the student learns at his or her own pace and adapts the knowledge to different situations. (Steffe and Gale, 1995) Interactive learning methods facilitated by the Internet relate to this learning style. The Internet as an interactive environment provides a fruitful platform for active learning.

Another theory that is aligned to forms of Internet instruction is Universal Design. This refers to the fact that a central problem in education is that not all students are on the same level in any one classroom. This is also exacerbated by the trend towards inclusion in the modern classroom of students with different levels of knowledge and expertise. "In today's inclusive environments, advancing academic achievement of the child with a learning disability becomes even more challenging for teachers" (Effects of SuccessMaker Math on Students with Learning Disabilities in Inclusive and Special Education Classrooms). Internet technology tends to provide methods of accommodating students at different levels through innovations which allow the student to work at their own pace. (Effects of Success Maker Math on Students with Learning Disabilities in Inclusive and Special Education Classrooms)

Other effective ways in which the Internet can aid in education is through online workbooks and problem solving test that can be accessed easily by the student. This has the advantage that when students are involved with the workbooks, the teacher can focus attention on individual students with particular problem areas. In other words, ideally the Internet should free the teacher to provide more individual attention to students than would be case in a more convention ional teaching environment. Computers and the internet can therefore "...serve as electronic workbooks, delivering instruction at a pace individualized for each student" (Cunningham, 2001, p. 41)

The aim of computer and Internet access in the classroom is to create an environment where teacher and student participate in an interactive world of shared Internet and Intranet database, even communicate with students in other countries to form groups and shared interactive projects. Cunningham, in Improving Our Nation's Schools through Computers & Connectivity, describes the ideal of,

Transforming classrooms into information-rich workrooms, in which students use the Internet as a huge repository of real-world data, images, text, and other resources. They gather resources that are relevant to real problems, manipulate the data to find patterns of similarity and difference, and compare their hypotheses or tentative findings with those of other students around the world. (Cunningham, 2001, p. 41)

Answers to problems are also facilitated by the Internet and the teacher can address student interest and needs "...in the light of educational standards and learning continually, both about their subject matter and about how computers can facilitate inquiry in each field. (Cunningham, 2001, p. 41)

The disadvantages of the Internet

While the advantages of the Internet are extolled by many teachers and educationists, there are also those who are of the opinion that the inclusion of the Internet in the classroom teaching process as not an ideal solution to educational problem and difficulties. This relates to a trend in research on computer-assisted language learning (CALL), in which, scholars are beginning to realize that the bells-and-whistles approach to technology will not work in our...classrooms. While each teacher must adopt the technological practices that work best with his/her own methodology and pedagogical beliefs, the field is coming to accept that we must have more motivation than the simple fact that the technology is available. (Lord, 2004, p. 20)

The above view signals a warning about being overly enthusiastic about Internet technology without due consideration given to the potential pitfalls and problems inhere tin this new medium. A central disadvantage of the Internet in the general classroom that has been voiced is that it has the potential to disrupt and even undermine the importance of the student-teacher relationship. The fear is that an over emphasis on technology and the Internet may relegate the teacher to a technical administrator and that the vital personal interaction between the teacher and the student may be diminished or lost.

This view is also supported by those who do not necessarily see a positive correlation between Internet technology and improved learning standards.

Computers can be a wonderful resource, even for teachers who were great before they came along. But simply dumping computers in a classroom doesn't make them useful." (Wohl, 2001) This critique brings to the fore the problem that in order fro the interne to be used constructively the teacher must be… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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