There is a saying that the only thing which is constant in this world is change. People, things, places, and even events can undergo minor or drastic changes over time. Thus, we cannot prevent ourselves from undergoing changes or reflecting on them. At the time I was a student, computers, cell phones, and some other modern gadgets did not exist or were not so widely spread in society. I also was a student at the time when people did not depend on these devices. It will be appropriate to notice that a lot of drastic changes have occurred since the time when computers and cell phones did not exist.
With regard to the educational process, in the past, students had no choice but to take down handwritten notes in their notebooks during classes. Moreover, they had no other source of information but printed materials they had access to, such as books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, and other academically-related printed works.
At present, students have such options as to take pictures or videos of their lectures during classes. They are able to take down notes on their laptops or smart phones. Besides, now they have access to an unlimited number of sources of information that can be found on the Internet, where there are “soft” copies of all printed materials such as books, magazines, and newspapers. Basically, they just have to be able to use their computers and have access to the Internet. They do not need to waste their time going to the library, borrowing or carrying heavy books that they need for research because these are available on the Internet. What is more, now they could easily set appointments and meetings for a group work due to the ability to contact their group mates within seconds, regardless of place and time.
Undoubtedly, there are many arguments affirming that computer technology immensely impacts on the sphere of education at present. In his work Computer Ethics, Luke Hodorowicz stresses that nowadays the educational sphere cannot function well without the use of technology and computers (Hodorowicz).
However, the use of the Internet in education is a disputable issue. As a matter of fact, the Internet use in education has both advantages and disadvantages. According to Plomp and Anderson, the use of computers as a tool of teaching and learning can contribute much to the process of learning, improving the effectiveness of education. Moreover, such educational goals as the teaching of problem-solving and productive (as opposed to reproductive) cognitive skills can be reached.
However, Angela Young presents some of the negative aspects of using the Internet for educational purposes. She brings up the issue of Internet abuse in schools. According to her, students have become lazy using the Internet for their educational purposes. In those days when students had to spend time at the library looking for resources and writing information on cards, they actually had to work to get information. Though it was tedious, it certainly helped students to comprehend information more deeply. Now students do not want to take the trouble and spend much time on finding resources, or to check if the resources are appropriate. It results in “poorly researched papers with little work put into them” (Young). Besides, because of students’ laziness and unwillingness to present an article in their own words, plagiarism becomes a widely spread issue. Moreover, there are sites where it is possible to buy ready papers. This has become one of the burning problems in many educational institutions. The solution to this problem can be seen in monitoring the use of the Internet in education and in teaching students the ways to do research properly.
As for regular activities, in the past, students either could be engaged in non-academic activities such as student organizations and varsities or just hang around with friends at venues in or around campus. A common feature among these activities is that students of that time heavily relied on being physically present and proximal with other students. Although such activities still exist today, the reliance on proximity has diminished greatly. Since computers and cell phones provide the convenience of communicating and interacting with each other, now students have the luxury to stay at home or to be alone inside their comfort zones but still be able to communicate and interact with other people. For example, instead of spending time with their friends in a park or at a caf? chatting and sharing their news, they can just stay at home and talk to their friends online.
However, the Internet cannot replace a live interaction, full of impressions, feelings, and emotions. We are human beings and it is natural for us to have a need for active communication, during which we exchange our emotions. Besides, the Internet has also provided a new medium for interaction which is online interactive multiplayer games. At present, a great number of students are actively engaged in these games instead of traditional regular activities.
In terms of socialization, nowadays students are heavily reliant on cell phones and computers to socialize. In the past, people used to go to their friends’ houses or meet at a common place in order to talk and bond or even do their homework. However, today, this may not be the case. Students mostly socialize just by using their fingertips, either by using their computers or cell phones. They can simply text their friends or use online chatting to communicate with them. They even can have video conferences via the Internet; thus they can see each other and have conversations as if they are physically together. These online video conferences are now being used as a tool for education wherein teachers can now conduct their lessons to their students through the Internet. In this format of education, students do not have to be physically present in classrooms in order to learn and receive lessons. In addition to it, in the past, it was very hard for international students to communicate with their families who lived in other parts of the world. They used to write letters or record themselves on a tape and send it to their families. It took long time to receive the response. Now, there are a lot of options to communicate like Skype, Instamessage, and so on. Just whenever they get homesick or miss their families, they can connect whoever they want.
With regard to the educational sphere, it is a well-known fact that education is not limited to classrooms at present. There are a lot of online educational courses which provide students with a convenient way of studying at home. It is a very comfortable and effective way of studying, because for many students, it is very pleasant to gain knowledge in their home environment. However, it is a disputable issue to some extent, and there are some arguments against such a method of studying. As a matter of fact, the main problem associated with it is a loss of interaction with fellow students and faculty.
In his work The Rhetoric of Cyberspace and the Real Curriculum (1996), Schwarz stresses that all people long to have warm live interaction that no technology can replace (Schwarz 76-84). Perhaps, there is a suggestion of truth in this statement, but I do not consider this issue to be such a big problem.
It is a well-known fact that the new technology has made life much easier for students. For example, international students face hard time learning a new language when they first come to a new country to study aboard. In the past, they had to learn everything about the country, and they had to use paper dictionaries to learn the language, and this process took much time. Nowadays, students can easily search for a unknown word using their phones or online dictionaries.
These are the main differences that I have observed throughout the years. These observations can be a ground for comparing and contrasting the ways students learnt before and after the era of computers and cell phones, and how the technology has made their life much easier.
In my opinion, we should try to get back to non-Internet research. Taking into account how the modern world is dependent on technologies, the attempt to make students come back to the previous methods of studying and searching for information sounds like a utopia. There is no doubt that nowadays no one will waste their valuable time looking through a lot of books and articles in order to find some information, instead of just referring to the Internet. It concerns not only the sphere of education, but also all fields of the human life. New technologies make our life easier and more comfortable, and the price of it is laziness to think.
The Internet provides us with a possibility to watch videos, see pictures, as well as listen to speeches or lectures. Thanks to the Internet, the learning process becomes interactive and interesting, which contrasts much with gaining knowledge with the help of books. Having tried easy ways, it is hard to reject them and come back to old ones. Perhaps, the best way to make students learn and look for information for their projects in books is to completely remove the Internet from the educational process. However, this can be a big loss for the educational system. Removing the Internet can cause more havoc than using it (Hodorowicz). Thus, in my opinion, the best way is to teach students how to analyze information found on the Internet, how to find out if it is appropriate or not, and how to avoid plagiarism, rather than make them use books for getting required information. Consequently, the Internet will not be abused in education anymore. Instead, it will become a good educational tool.
Though the use of the Internet in the educational process has some disadvantages, the role of it is significant. We just should try not to overuse it, considering it to be not a means of education, but a tool. It is impossible to reject it and come back to traditional methods of learning and getting information, but it is possible to teach students to use it in an appropriate manner. As a result, it will be not a loss, but a benefit both for teachers and students. However, this does not mean that we have to get rid of books, because they still play a meaningful role in the educational process.
Thus, my observations can serve as a ground for comparing and contrasting the ways students learnt before and after the era of computers and cell phones, and how the technology has made their life much easier.
Hodorowicz, Luke. Computer Ethics. 6 Dec. 2000. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. <http://www.cs.rpi.edu>.
Schwarz, Gretchen. “The Rhetoric of Cyberspace and the Real Curriculum.” Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 12 (1996): 76-84. Print.
Young , Angela S. Internet and its effects on education, 20 May 2007. Web. 20 Feb.2013. <http://www.helium.com/items/335149-internet-and-its-effects-on-education>