Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The internet changes everything

It really does, doesn't it?  If we didn't have it, I wouldn't have this blog. I wouldn't be able to talk to my fiance in Canada on Skype. I wouldn't have a Pinterest board with five hundred "funny pins" (which would be a good thing).  Those things aren't necessary though.  But one thing I think the internet has really improved is our approach to education.

Think about it. The internet really has changed the game when it comes to education. Sure, it might be detrimental in some ways, but the internet has so much to offer when it comes to education. It really levels the playing field and allows everyone the same opportunities to learn.  

I know for myself, I would have really struggled if the internet were taken away from me during my college career. I use the internet to look up sources. My college professors have "blackboard," an online source to put all our class information.  They put links to relevant articles and sites that students may what to look at (I rarely do, but still). I've taken online classes and online exams. When I was studying for the GRE, I took practice exams online to get familiar with the format and questions.  I can use my school's databases to look through the hundreds of thousands of articles online. Rather than searching through books for relevant information, I can type in a few key words and immediately have articles on a specific topic at my fingertips.  I love these databases because it allows me to pursue whatever interests me without a whole lot of effort. 

It might sound lazy, but if we had to work hard to find out information on different subjects, it's likely that we would all just know a whole lot less. Is that good or bad? It's hard to say. Anything we want to know, we can find out with no effort. Does that make us smarter or dumber? (I just now got on Google and searched "Is dumber a word?" Turns out it is. Proceed...) I don't know, but I do know that it has changed the way we learn.  If I am interested in how the nucleus deals with proteotoxic stress, I can look it up and find out all kinds of information that I would never know otherwise (what? You have never wondered how the nucleus deals with proteotoxic stress? Weirdo.)  If I am writing a paper on eating disorder, I can find many different sites that have information online. I can also look at sites written by people who have had eating disorders to get a firsthand perspective. Then, I can take that information and write a paper about it and share it online so that information on eating disorders is even more readily available. It truly is amazing.

The internet has taken what we as humans have learned collectively, and shared it so that everyone can have access to it. Without it, I would never know what scientists in Timbuktu discovered last week, but now I do.  Thanks, guys.

All being said, I can't imagine my education without having my handy friend, Mr. Internet.  It doesn't make us smarter than previous generations, but it does make it so that we have a lot more information available to us.  It's mind boggling to me to think how much things have changed since my grandparent's generation. And even my parent's generation.  I don't even want to think about what things will be like for my kid's education.  It's always changing, that's for sure.

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