In this post I will start to elaborate on the main content for my project and I will explain the main motivation and point of the project – so what it is I am arguing for. I will also re visit those 10 points I made in an earlier post (19/3/15) and look to group them into 3 or 4 categories. These items are what I believe to be fundamental aspects of my topic – ‘Implications of using the Internet as a learning tool’. At the moment I think I have established a strong historical/background of knowledge that helps better understand my topic and I have conducted good research and analysis from Carr’s, The Shallows which is the initial inspiration for my work, and so will form the introduction. Therefore it is time for me to start beginning the research into the main content of what I’m looking at and by developing the arguments I am looking to make, I can achieve this and start from there.

The message I would like to put forward is that the Internet is a medium that encompasses a great level of democracy and with that notion there will always be a high risk of negative behaviour. However the Internet provides us with a platform that facilitates the ability for us to be able to develop our knowledge and understanding, far more so any other platform it has preceded. Furthermore it is essential to understand that it is wrong and naïve to blame the medium for negative behaviour when it is the individual’s actions that ultimately decide the outcome of their learning and participation. At this point much could be understood from this extract from Clay Shirky’s book, Cognitive Surplus.

Figure 1. Abstract illustration of Clay Shirky for the purpose of 'Cognitive Surplus'.

Figure 1. Abstract illustration of Clay Shirky for the purpose of ‘Cognitive Surplus’.

“Human character is the essential component of our sociable and generous behaviors, even when coordinated with high-tech tools. Interpretations of those behaviors that focus in the technology miss the point: technology enables those behaviors, but it doesn’t cause them.” (Shirky 2010: 98).

Shirky is a writer of the social and economic effects of the Internet and whilst much of the books discussion centres on social media, his points are still very applicable to my study. In summary he looks at how the Internet is a medium which allows us to spend our time actively participating with other individuals and that the results are far more satisfying than that of traditional media. Furthermore, he talks about the radical change of how our time is spent and mentions the collaborative process of ‘Wikipedia’ and this is something that is obviously very relevant towards the study of information via the Internet. I would argue that the Internet as a learning tool offers vast opportunities that no other medium can match. Yes there are multiple criticisms of this belief but I think that it is a platform which if utilised correctly, is far superior to anything else. However it is easy to be misused but that blame should be directed towards the user and not the medium itself and Shirky supports this notion by arguing that it is not these new platforms which have altered human behaviour; they have merely facilitated the ability to extend it (Shirky 2010). Therefore there is a big opportunity for individuals to increase their learning by developing an understanding of how to gather information via the Internet; so how to decipher what is current, what is trustworthy, how to further develop on the knowledge they already have etc…

Below I have separated the initial 11 (I have added one – ‘The role of Social Media in altering the channel of distribution of content’) points I made into 3 categories which will form the main content of my argument. I have done this by the similarities of each element and by what they each mean in greater context.

Reliability issues of online content

  • The authority and trustworthiness of information.
  • The ability to look for credible information and skill to decipher what is relevant and reliable.
  • The democracy and widespread of blogs and wiki’s.
  • The role of Social Media in altering the channel of distribution of content.

The practice of searching for information and reading texts.

  • The surge of video tutorials and entertainment platforms such as YouTube as a learning environment.
  • The changing habits of intercepting information, from chronologically reading a book to skipping between links.
  • Participatory culture and its effect on creativity, self-learning and autonomy.
  • The effects of having immediate access to a huge wealth of information.

The change from a physical to a digital medium.

  • The change in format, from typically written work to multimedia.
  • The physical vs virtual security of content (a book is constant, a web page can become unavailable and is forever gone).
  • The implications of developing our knowledge and collective intelligence and how effectively we are achieving this.

I can now begin to conduct the main body of research for my project by individually looking at each one of the above. Of course there will be numerous overlaps but by looking at each separately I feel it will allow me to be better organised and build what is fundamentally a much stronger report of research.




Figure 1. Clay Shirky. Image available at: [Accessed on 26/03/15]

Shirky, C. (2010) Cognitive surplus. London: Penguin Books.