I will use this blog post to show evidence as to why my particular subject is not only very current and at the forefront of my practice but why it is very important for a lot of different people. I believe that this area of research is very widespread and applies to a whole range of issues which is why it is important that I establish a strong and refined angle so my work has a defined direction and does not lose track of the points I am trying to make.

I think it is important at this stage to look at the currency of work that is being published. All of the work that I have looked at over the last few posts is extremely new; mostly no older than 5 years with the majority about 3 years old. Furthermore, when we look at the figures who I have discussed, there are some very big and influential names who are very prominent in their discussion of these issues – Nicholas Carr, Susan Greenfield, Mark Prensky, Clay Shirky, Henry Jenkins etc…

When we think about using the Internet as a tool for learning, for many of us we can acknowledge how this is achievable. However I think the affordances the Internet offers in terms of learning and providing us with information are seriously undervalued. In many ways I think they are undervalued because individuals are unaware of the potential that the Internet facilitates and also due to the fact that they are unaware of how to harness these possibilities.

Neil Selwyn who is a Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University and a researcher in the field of education and technology, and in research on the sociology of technological use in educational settings states,

“In many ways, it is difficult to discuss any aspect of contemporary society without considering the Internet. Many people’s lives are saturated so thoroughly with digital technology that the once obvious distinction between either being online or offline now fails to do justice to a situation where the Internet is implicitly always on.” (Selwyn n.d: 196)

Selwyn exemplifies the prominence of the Internet within society here and in his paper he continues to advocate with great detail, the implications of Internet’s role within education, even likening the two based on the fact that both are concerned with information exchange, communication, and the creation of knowledge. Selwyn is a very authoritative figure in the study of the Internet and education and his paper provides a very insightful look on how important this issue is in current time.

Nancy Coleman who writes for The Guardian online discusses similar issues in her 2014 article, ‘Online learning: the UK’s scepticism is holding it back’. She provides an argument that UK colleges and universities should expand more in their offering of online courses. She argues that online tuition is moving into the mainstream and that there is a cultural shift as a result of necessity. There is room for expansion and international opportunity and she states that there is a “bigger social and cultural changes brought about by digital technology and the use of mobile devices in everyday lives.” (Coleman 2014)

Figure 1. Nancy Coleman's article

Figure 1. Nancy Coleman’s article

William Draves, is President of LERN, a US organisation on learning and an author of online teaching and learning on the net. His paper, How the Internet Will Change How We Learn’ puts forth a great set of ideas about our cognitive learning using the Internet over traditional taught methods. He argues that learning can be better achieved online and much like Coleman (above) he advocates the development of interactive online learning. He makes very bold statements but he does provide great explanation and evidence to back up his arguments. Furthermore he is very clear in his explanations and vision of Internet learning and claims that online learning is rapidly becoming recognised as a valid learning delivery system. In this quote Draves argues makes a very strong point regarding the importance of online learning and this puts forth the notion of importance and relevance to my own study.

“Online learning will do for society what the tractor did for food. A century ago food was expensive, in limited supply, and with very little variety. Today food is relatively cheap, in great supply in our society, and with tremendous variety. The Internet will do the same for education. More people will be able to learn more, for much less cost, and with a tremendous variety in choice of topics and subjects. It is something that societies of the past could only dream about. And it will come true for us in a very short time.” (Draves n.d).

I will now bring attention to two government documents, the first from the ‘department of employment and learning’ and the second published by the authority of the ‘London House of Lords’. The first document concerns the Interest of solely E- learning strategies whilst the last one regards ‘The UK’s digital future and credits significant discussion to that of the Internet’s importance in developing education. Both reports place significant emphasis on establishing strategies for online learning and recognise that the internet is “important to everyone’s lives (), going onto discuss the personal and economical benefits of online skills, identifying that the Internet should be treated as a utility service and universal access for the entire population would place us in a position to achieve exponential growth.

Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf

E-Learning Strategy for the Further Education Sector – http://www.delni.gov.uk/elearning_strategy_for_fe_sector.pdf

Following on from this I would like to briefly mention Martin Robbins article from The Guardian which is aimed primarily at Susan Greenfield’s work. Greenfield is a neuroscientist and also a member in The House of Lords to which this article discusses her statement at Westminster. She talks through her ideas on the way technology is having an impact on the brain and states that the brain is susceptible to acclimatise to its environment and with the environment so drastically changing – this causes unprecedented effects to the development of our brains. Whilst Greenfield has received widespread criticism for her failure to provide solid scientific evidence to support her claims, the significance of this article is it shows how my topic is a very current issue.

 

Figure 2. Martin Robbins' article

Figure 2. Martin Robbins’ article

In this post I have demonstrated through various material that there is a real demand and relevance for using the Internet as a learning tool, and furthermore I have shown that it is right at the forefront of my practice. I think the last three sources I have discussed are a great support to this notion as if they are topics of concern and debate that are amongst our government, it shows their currency and importance.

References

Robbins, M. (2014) ‘Mind Change: Susan Greenfield has a big idea, but what is it?’
The Guardian [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2014/oct/03/mind-change-susan-greenfield-has-a-big-idea-but-what-is-it [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Coleman, N. (2014) ‘Online learning: the UK’s scepticism is holding it back’
The Guardian [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/sep/07/online-learning-uk-scepticism-holding-it-back    [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Draves, W A. (n.d) ‘How the Internet Will Change How We Learn’. [online] Available at: http://www.williamdraves.com/works/internet_change_report.htm [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Selwyn, N. (n.d) ’19 Key Essays on How Internet is Changing our Lives’ Open Mind. [online] pp. 191 – 215. Available at: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BBVA-OpenMind-book-Change-19-key-essays-on-how-internet-is-changing-our-lives-Technology-Internet-Innovation.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Department for Employment and Learning. (n.d) ‘E-Learning Strategy For the Further Education Sector. [online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

House of Lords. (2015) ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future. [online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

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