Fast and Vast: the Internet’s Impact on Learning

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Ever since the digital revolution started in the 1980s, the process of information dissemination has never been the same. A wealth of information has become easily available and accessible to all parts of the world. Just go to the world wide web, and news about what is happening around the globe is within reach in just one click.

With the bounty of data it offers, the digital space has also become a powerful tool in education.

DIGITAL AND ONLINE LEARNING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

You might think that digital and online learning is the same, but it is not. Digital learning is a way of acquiring knowledge through the use of technology. That could mean learning in school while using gadgets like laptops, iPad, and cellphones.

On the other hand, online learning is a form of “education that takes place over the Internet,” based on a journal written by Joshua Stern. He further states that online learning is only one type of distance learning. Distance learning covers all forms of learning that take place outside the bounds of the traditional classroom space.

For this article, however, we do not only focus on online learning but how the internet affects people and their knowledge acquisition.

INTERNET AND LEARNING

According to a paper written by Malcolm Brown of Dartmouth College, “an entire generation of learners has grown up using computers and other networked devices.” He calls this specific group the Net Generation.

Brown states that this generation has acquired qualities highly influenced by the internet. These characteristics include a positive outlook, the ability to multitask, and a hands-on approach to things. This confidence comes from the knowledge that they can use internet resources readily, 24/7.

Truly, using the web to access information seems very natural to kids nowadays, even at an early age. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) mentions that at 10 years of age, kids are “more likely to use the internet than adults at any age beyond 25.” NTIA further notes that most kids increase their level of internet usage in schools. “Even three out of eight 5 to 9-year-olds (or 37.6 percent) use the Internet at home and/or school,” NTIA discusses.

The pandemic has undeniably influenced the increase of internet usage for learning. But online learning has both advantages and disadvantages.

e-learning concept

THE PROS AND CONS

The most obvious advantage of virtual learning is ensuring that the kids’ health is protected while acquiring education. The economic benefit is that students now pay lesser for online programs than traditional face-to-face classes. It also allows self-paced learning where students, mostly in college programs, get to schedule classes and meet deadlines at their own pace.

The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning of Yale also recognizes that virtual learning has benefits. It gives flexibility for students to review lectures and proper visualization of data and information through available online resources. However, the main enemy a student has in online learning is technological distractions, as well as socioeconomic concerns.

A student’s socioeconomic status can help or hinder how he or she can acquire education. In the case of online learning, if a person belongs to a low-income household or someone who has no access to the internet, online learning can be difficult.

NOT JUST FOR STUDENTS

Learning in the digital space has its challenges, and it’s not only students who experience this. Even companies and businesses have to transition to virtual learning and training.

Training is vital for business for different reasons. The first is to train new team members so that they can get on board with how the company works and set expectations on how they should perform. For current employees, training is important to develop skills further.

Managers also need training because they are the ones who will engage and motivate subordinates to perform well in their duties. These leaders are the ones who have to bring the team together, even in a remote setup. Sometimes, this could be difficult, though, especially for supervisors who are used to managing people in an office environment, face-to-face.

As virtual management and training may still be new and unfamiliar territory for employees and business managers, it is best to consult agencies that provide virtual training solutions.

MAKE THE MOST OF IT

Despite challenges that some may face with virtual learning, it is undeniable that the digital space has been an easy go-to safe space during the pandemic. The internet has allowed people to interact with one another continuously and even learn.

As with any tool, it is up to the person using it to know how to utilize it best. The same goes for harnessing the available resources provided by the internet. We have to make the most of the gift digital technology has given us.

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