As educators, we are always looking for ways to enhance our classroom learning environment. One way that we can do this is through using the internet in our classroom. The internet can bring topics to life. For example, in a lesson that I did on immigration, I used unitedstreaming and Skype to show actual film and interviews from people who are there which is important for teaching how to use primary sources. This week I am working on a thematic unit about Westward expansion, and here I can use readwritethink for creating timelines. The students can go to the Library of Congress website to get more information on a biographical essay they are writing. Flickr is a great way to keep parents up to date about what the kids are doing in class. I could on and on. Theses are things that are not possible in a classroom that does not utilize the internet.
With this being said, we as educators must be careful in the overuse of the internet. The article, Why the net? An Interactive Tool for the Classroom, reiterates this idea. It asserts that if the activity can be done without the internet, it probably should. One example talked about in the article is that if your teaching the history of your local town, it is better to get out and talk to people and see things in person locally, than to find all the information on the internet. On the flip side of that, if you are learning about some far off place or abstract idea, the internet can help enhance and engage.
It is also important to incorporate the internet in the classroom for students to gain the technical knowledge along with subject content. In a survey done on educationworld.com, it shows that 76% of lower income households depend on the schools for internet access. Without internet use in the classroom, these students would fall behind when it comes to technology. This in turn could hurt their chances in the future for competing in college or in the job market. Internet use in the classroom can help to turn out technologically savvy students ready for a technological world.
The internet is something that is already in student’s lives, and if used appropriately, can enhance their learning. We as educators need to embrace the internet, because its not going away. We need to help our students get ready for their technologically saturated future. Here again, though, we must be careful in how we utilize it. The internet cannot make a bad teacher good, or a good teacher great. It can only enhance what is already there.