The Internet and Learning

6 Jan

Today’s Mighty bell asks about the internet and learning.  That task is supposed to take 15 – 30 minutes.  I’ll probably spend more time on it…

  • What sites do you go to regularly to learn new things?
  • Are there authors or sites that you “follow?”
  • When does the Internet or the Web help your learning, and when does it distract from good learning for you?
  • How do you feel about technology and learning?

Where I go depends on what exactly I am learning about.  If I want just a general overview of something I have never heard of, I have no problems going to wikipedia.  I have no idea what a Higgs Boson particle is, so I can go there and learn something about it.  Easy, right?  But I might have never gotten curious enough to learn about it, if it wasn’t for a Youtube video about the subject.  And I discovered that video through this person’s main channel, which is just one of several Youtube channels I subscribe to because, well, because I’m a nerd!  The point of this being that even a distraction can lead to learning.

But the other side of it, is that the internet seems to be built for distraction.  For instance I start this blog post and start looking for Higgs Boson particles, and enter the world of Youtube, the mindless distractions are just a click away.  And it is SOOO easy to say “OH, this is only 2 minutes”…and an hour later I still haven’t finished this because I got lost in videos, Facebook and emails.  This was only supposed to be a 20 minute task!

I have an iGoogle with all of the news and interest sites in one place that I like to regularly read.  I have an education page and a technology page as well as a general news/weather/email/calendar page.   There is so much information, it is almost impossible to keep up with everything!  Another important tool in my internet arsenal is my podcast subscriptions.  I’m going to be on the road a couple hours per day, and the podcasts are a way to continue to learn while on-the-go.

I’ve made a conscious decision to kind of avoid Twitter for the moment, because I sometimes I feel as if I am already swimming in information as it is with blogs I can’t read, podcasts I haven’t gotten around to listening to and other things I have had to skim over.

To be sure the internet is an incredible resource for learning and teaching, and I’ve done my share of both through this blog, Teachertube and other resources.  I notice a lot of other teachers who have joined in and we are looking for ways to leverage this technology to better reach students.  One of the unique and interesting things about Mightybell is that you can support and cheer on colleague through comments or just clicking the “cheer” button which is more or less like a ‘like’ button on the Facebook.  And I notice that feature on my blog as well.  So I can imagine a time when students might be writing and producing content, posting it on the inernet using it as a sort of virtual refrigerator, and then everyone can view it and ‘like’ on it.  Now that seems a lot a lot more realistically motivating than grades or test scores.

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