There is a large segment of the population – the youngest in our generation – that will never know a time when the Internet was not available to them; will never know what it was like to have a question and not be able to logon to get an answer, to not be able to instant message friends around the country or around the world, to not have anything and everything as close as a few keyboard buttons. This availability of information has transformed our world without exception. But those who have no basis of comparison – no first-hand experience in an Internet-less world – cannot fully grasp the levity of this transformation; while those of us who saw the birth of the Internet, as well as its subsequent evolution, can speak with authority about the mark it has made in nearly every area of our life.
One such area is that of education. Firstly in terms of how the computer serves us within a classroom and overall school setting – computers are introduced in the elementary school level, are used to look up books and procure information in libraries (remember the card catalogue?), and kids even bring their laptops to school in higher grades to take notes. Further, computers have changed the way in which we complete our work. It used to be that a trip to the library was in order for research purposes; today we need only to get online to find everything we need and papers are typed with ease and printed from home. For those of us who were all too familiar with the many obstacles of the modern typewriter, we can only surmise how much easier life would have been with a laptop when we were in school.
But even more, the Internet has changed the process of learning, rendering the traditional classroom unnecessary in some cases as students flock online for exclusive Internet degree programs – everything from an online MBA to a Masters in Education. More in the next post.