Education and the Internet
Something has dramatically changed over the past two decades.
I have followed the Fischbowl blog of Karl Fisch for a couple of years and he frequently publishes articles about how globalization and new developments are influencing many aspects of daily life. In one of his rather famous presentations, called Shift Happens, he states that “according to the former US secretary of Education, Richard Riley, the top-10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not yet exist in 2004. That means ultimately that we are preparing our students for jobs, that don’t yet exist to solve problems that we don’t know yet, by using technologies that have not been invented yet.”
When I went to university 20 years ago, that was somewhat different. While the business and social landscape is changing every day at a fast pace, our school systems seem to find it difficult to cope with these changes.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not against formal education with its current curricula. I think that it is important to teach children the “basics” like reading, writing, math, biology, and science, to have a good solid foundation to draw from.
I also think that new subjects, like applied computer sciences, bioscience and nanotechnology, need to be given far more attention by the education system than they are getting today, so that children can make an informed decision on continuing their education.
Now how does the Internet contribute to education in general?
Let me give you an example: my son. He is 13 years-old and like his friends he is spending quite some time online, with games, on Facebook, on YouTube, MSN and what have you.
While many parents are very concerned about this, I think we are experiencing a paradigm shift bigger than rock’n’roll and flower power combined. This shift is probably affecting more people and geographies than any other previous cultural shift.
So, here is my son, let’s see how he is using the Internet and technology in his life. For a start he is using his mobile phone as an alarm clock, not so much because we would not wake him up, but more for the fun of it. His weekly school schedule is stored online and his school work is often researched on the Internet and stored in folders on our home PC. He keeps bookmarks of pictures and sites mostly to exchange those with his friends. Cartoons are mostly frequented on YouTube and so are music videos and links to those are frequently shared on Facebook. Facebook is also used to discuss how to finish homework with minimum effort and a big portion of the evening goes into online games. When running into problems, the support forum or live chat is frequented and needless to say that all account activations go through e-mail. If not on the computer, primary communication means for him are text messages.
Now where did he learn to use all that? Well, they have computer lessons in school, yet when I ask him, he told me proudly that his sister helped to sign him up on Facebook and the rest he acquired himself on the net, he said.
I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like there is a lot of self-organized learning going on and I am certain that most researchers will agree that self-organized learning is by far the most effective learning method........