Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Internet Changed Everything about Education

I recently came across this site, and I was pretty amazed by the perspective shown here. It's worth taking 30 seconds to check it out: One Second on the Internet.

It got me thinking about how much the Internet has changed education. I've been teaching for 15 years. In my first classroom, the extent of educational technology at my disposal was an overhead projector and a chalkboard. (CHALK! The kind that got my pants all dusty--remember that?)

I think about how much my teaching practice has evolved over the years; I recognize that I rely heavily on my computer for lesson planning and preparation and so many of the other "behind the scenes" tasks of teaching. Could I still teach without a computer? Yes...I think so. But the habits of mind I've adopted for my planning and prep have been fundamentally altered by the technology available to me. And it isn't really about the computer itself anymore.

It's about the connections to all the other computers out there. More than that...connections with all the other people using all the other computers out there.

Ah, network cables and switches. This is the Internet, people.
Image via jerryjohn CC BY-ND 2.0

I can do things in my teaching practice taking advantage of the resources made available by my connection to the Internet that I simply couldn't do otherwise. Some of these are technological tools. Tools like Google Drive and Dropbox have changed the way I think about creating, storing, and sharing files. Tools like YouTube and Wikipedia have democratized basic knowledge in ways that could have never been imagined in previous centuries, or even previous decades!

Others are interpersonal tools. I've written many times about how Twitter has impacted my personal professional development--what a great way to connect with other teachers! I've connected with so many amazing teachers that way. Along the same lines, blogs would also fit in this category. And while I probably don't use Pinterest the way most users do, I have found it to be a useful tool for organizing things I don't want to forget and collect other ideas from other educators who share their great ideas, links, and bookmarks there.

Finally, the people themselves! The Internet allows me to keep in touch with people to whom I would not otherwise have access--such as education thought-leaders like Grant Wiggins, Rick Wormeli, and Todd Whitaker, among others--as well as keeping in contact with teacher-friends across the country, and even across the globe!


How about you, teacher? Has the Internet shifted the way you think about teaching and learning? In what ways? Are there other technologies that have had as profound an impact on your teaching practice?

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