The internet has brought about great changes in the way we live. According to a quick Google search, I discovered that it's about 37 years old as of 2020. What this means is, humans have been able to use computer technology to communicate with one another across vast distances (using a network) for only a little over one generation. However, if you look at how much the world has changed within the past 37 years, it's just incredible.
Betsy Duke, Ginger Harper, and Mark Johnston. Connectivism as a Digital Age Learning Theory. The International HETL Review. 2013. Kaplan University. Retrieved from <https://www.hetl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/HETLReview2013 SpecialIssueArticle1.pdf>
Marcy P. Driscoll. Psychology of Learning for Instruction, Third Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. 2005. Edinburgh Gate Harlow, Essex. p 4
Sara De Freitas and Paul Maharg, editors. Digital Games and Learning. Continuum International Publishing Group. 2011. London, New York
I am personally a firm belliever that teachers will always remain significant and that no form of technology will ever be able to replace them. For starters, I believe teacher's have never been expected to be the main provider of knowledge. Books, places, activities, and communities are also all very important facets for knowledge discovery. Of course teachers are still required to possess a certian amount of knowledge about their subject before teaching, but I think the ultimate purpose of education is to teach students how to succeed. Knowledge can help students pass tests, but no amount of knowledge can get a student to take a test or apply the test in their own lives. I've taught many students in the past who simply just did not want to learn. As a teacher, it would be outrageous to just ignore these types of students. It's within everyone's best interest to try and find out what motivates students to learn. I often try to find out what my students enjoy doing during their free time and incorporate some elements of that into may lesson planning--even if it means bringing in videogames from time to time. To be able to understand what motivates students is to have "context [which] in fact, affects knowledge to such an extent that it may be said to fundamentally alter the epistemological features of learning"(Sara De Freitas and Paul Maharg, 28) Students are strange creatures and teachers need to keep an open mind in order to make the right decisions about how to teach them. I don't think any kind of technology will ever be able to replicate that.
George Siemens and Stephen Downes are the forerunners of an interesting theory known as connectivism. Connectivism acknowledges that the internet and its surrounding technologies have brought about a new way of learning that is "undoubtedly an important school of thought directly applicable to the use of technology in the classroom today" (Betsy Duke, Ginger Harper, and Mark Johnston, 8). The significance of connectivism is that it challenges the very role of what a teacher actually is in the classroom. Students need not wait for the teacher to find answers to their own questions. They have Google. They can go and read an article written by someone from a different country and even in a different language if they wanted.
So what's the connection between the internet and education? For some time, even before the internet was ever conceived, many learning theorists like Pavlov, Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky have been discovering how people learn and develop. Modern day educational psychologist, Driscoll, writes that "[a] learning theory...should explain the results associated with learning and predict the considerations under which learning will occur again" (4). As we all know, teachers are in the business of teaching and learning, meaning they operate within the domain of learning theories.
Thanks to the internet, people can now know what's happening anywhere around the globe in real time. I still remember watching the Fifa World Cup 2018 from China and messaging my friends in Canada whenever France, the team I was rooting for, scored a goal. Even though the match took place in Russia and the time difference between China and Canada was 15 hours, my friends and I were still able to talk and celebrate at the same time.
France celebrating their victory over Russia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup