Since its inception in 1983, the World Wide Web has influenced everything from the way we communicate to the way we learn. Although it started out as mere text, today, the Web features everything from videos to interactive learning.
In a world where we are surrounded by technology throughout the day, it probably isn’t surprising that schools have at least one computer per five students in the United States.
The Internet has influenced how students learn and how students learn has been influenced by the Internet. Some trends are almost certain to continue to grow in the coming years and some need to be addressed to deal with potential learning deficits now before they get out of hand. Below are some ways the Internet has changed how students learn.
How the Web Influenced Education
The Internet has allowed education to become more cooperative. Cooperative learning allows students to work together in small groups, and this can help them share the strengths they have while improving on skill sets that are weak.
Today’s generation of school kids know how to navigate technology, and they are very familiar with online college and cyber-schools. These learners are better able to multi-task and learn in an active environment where different tasks must be completed.
Today, there are online K-12 schools, online college courses and online courses for learning any number of skills — not necessarily related to a formal education, but even for hobbies and such. Where at one time, taking a class from an instructor across the country required travel and massive expenses, today, the Web has brought courses from around the world to the masses.
How Education Influenced the Web
Education has embraced technology in many ways, which has helped build the online learning environment. Public schools spend about $3 billion a year on digital content. In 2015 and 2016, some state standardized tests were offered online for the first time ever.
At the same time, teachers haven’t really changed the way they teach, even though many are using technology to ease the processes of teaching. That difference may be one of the reasons why those entering the education technology market are focusing more on personalized services to promote the more than $8 billion per year industry.
The area where educators need the most help is in personalizing learning. Every student learns at a different pace and in a different way. There are kinetic learners, auditory learners, visual learners and those who use a combination of these to retain information. By offering personalized services, various learning styles are accommodated.
How Students Use the Internet to Learn
More and more students are turning to technology to complete a variety of educational tasks. In 2014, around 50% of students use a computer to create, edit or organize digital media at least one time per month for school projects. Students turn to online sources to figure out how things work.
As a society, we’ve started searching for things online so often, the term “google” has become a verb instead of a noun that describes a specific browser.
There are also challenges for teachers with all of this technology, including that students are active on social media platforms. This means they get their news and facts from other people — people who aren’t always correct. This can be a challenge for educators to combat.
Not all changes are bad. Though the way research is done has changed, students are invested in research. About 93% of students search online instead of going to libraries, and universities are aware of this trend. They are working to make databases easier to search.
Colleges themselves use the online world to build their student base and reach out to current students and alumni. 85% of college admissions offices reach out on social media and 41% blog, showing that the Internet has impacted education on multiple levels, even recruitment efforts.
In addition to these efforts, universities and colleges are offering more classes online. One university is leveraging the web to its full potential. Northern Michigan University has their own LTE network and gives each student a laptop to facilitate both online learning and traditional classrooms.
Resource Pages and Guides
Resource pages and guides offer free education and information to learners and is one way website owners can reach out to this market and get a foot in the door. These forms of education teach skills or highlight details about a product or service so the audience can better understand the value.
Resources and guides are helpful because they tend to gather a wealth of information in one spot. Basically, the research is already completed for the student, and he or she can simply absorb the facts. In the past, this would have required hours upon hours of research in a brick and mortar library. The student may have even had to wait for a book to arrive via interlibrary loan. Today, much of this information is found with a simple web search.
What It Means for Education
There will always be a place for an in-person classroom environment. Some skills simply need to be learned hands-on, such as lab work. However, there is no denying the Internet is changing the way people learn and even how they think in some ways.
Technology is powerful as a tool to help teachers create materials faster and in a relatable platform to today’s modern student. Designers should focus on how to efficiently deliver new systems to students and keep the focus on current trends in how students learn.
Whether you design websites for education or create learning systems for students, knowing what the trends are and keeping an eye on how things are changing from year to year is vital.
Twenty years ago, no one imagined how prevalent online learning would be. Those who had the foresight to see the possibility, though, were able to capitalize on the multi-billion dollar industry. What will be the next big thing in online education?
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
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