Social networking, funny videos and instant messaging may be tempting distractions from schoolwork, but the Internet still offers a variety of benefits in the educational sphere. As classroom technology and online courses become more prevalent and advanced, teachers and students alike have new ways to study, plan class activities, and present information. Online classes, interactive teaching, and streamlined research methods are just a few advantages of the Internet's educational growth.
Going the Distance
Hectic work schedules, family responsibilities, and commuting challenges no longer have to keep people from seeking a college degree. In 2012, a US News and World Report survey showed that roughly 62 percent of colleges offer online degree programs. Participants in a 2012 Ball State University study stated that flexible scheduling, affordability, and the ability to work at their own pace were key to their decision to take online courses. Internet classes don't just benefit college students, though. Many colleges, such as Liberty University, offer online programs to prepare high schoolers for advanced university work.
Using the Internet in the classroom actually gets students more excited about learning, states the National Math and Science Initiative. Because Internet activities are often hands-on and interactive, students get the chance to directly engage with information rather than passively listen to lectures. The National Math and Science Initiative states that this is especially true for subjects like math and science, as many students find them challenging to learn and relate to. Internet activities can make these subjects easier to understand, and can present them in unique ways that fit students' affinity for technology.
Research and Reasoning
Once upon a time, students used library card catalogs, encyclopedias and magazines to find information for projects. Today, the Internet streamlines academic research through online databases and search engines, allowing students to view the full text of scholarly publications, of research studies, and even of books right from their computers.
Doing this online research also lets them sharpen their critical thinking skills by evaluating Internet sources for credibility, bias and usefulness. Knowing how to determine a source's trustworthiness can help students evaluate online sources they come across both in and out of the classroom, making them smarter consumers of information.
Bridging Communication Gaps
Classroom Internet use can also help teachers say goodbye to communication mishaps such as lost assignment sheets and misplaced memos home to parents.
Internet communication can make distribution of information easier, as well as increase class community and motivation, states University of Baltimore professor Hossein Arsham. For example, having a class blog or website can open up dialogue between teachers and students outside of school rather than confining their interactions to the classroom. Students can download course materials and readings, chat with other students, and share their work, while parents can receive reminders about upcoming due dates and events.
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.