Internet and Education

The Internet is recognized as an important tool in education. It is widely used to facilitate studying and help communication between teachers and students. It is also increasingly becoming the basis of education in forms such as distance learning. However, in addition to the positive effects of the Internet, it has also provided students with an avenue for plagiarism.

At the end of the 1990s, high schools and colleges in the United States stepped up efforts to expose students to the Internet. Computers with Internet access were installed in classrooms and libraries in many secondary and elementary schools. Colleges provided students on campus with broadband access and many professors started requiring students to use the Internet in college courses. However, mainly because of the Internet, levels of academic cheating and plagiarism increased sharply during that period and at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Internet accessibility in public schools increased rapidly in the late 1990s after the Telecommunication Act was signed into law in 1996. Under that law, the E-rate program was launched, which provided elementary and secondary public schools with discounts for the purchase of computers for classrooms and libraries. In 1994, only 3% of public school classrooms in the United States had Internet access. This proportion was 92% in 2002.

As Internet access became widespread, students started using it as the main source of information for their school work. According to students, it was easier to surf the Internet than to conduct research using the library. In colleges, professors started using e-mail to notify their classes of changes to homework assignments or to make general announcements, including class cancellations. The Internet also enabled students on and off campus to collaborate on coursework without leaving their rooms.

Research has also shown that reference queries at university libraries have declined sharply since the end of the 1990s, when Internet access became widespread. However, in addition to helping students with school and college assignments, the Internet also provided young people with many sources of distraction. Many students used the Internet to communicate with friends, to stream or download music and to play computer, video or online games. Studies showed that often young people spend more of their time engaged in such activities than in preparation for their classes.

The widespread use of the Internet has also provided a boost to distance learning. The number of people enrolled in distance learning courses offered by post secondary institutions increased almost two times between the 1997-98 and 2000-01 school years.

There are many forms of internet-based education, including tutorials, virtual classrooms, correspondence courses, project-based education and event-based education. One essential concept for Internet-based education is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communications occurs instantaneously, in real time, while asynchronous communication does not take place in real time and is delayed at the receiver's end.

Interactive multiple-choice tutorials and tests can be implemented via the Internet, building on the model of computer-assisted instruction. Such tutorials and tests can be scored electronically and the applications can be used repeatedly or revised from one semester to the next, which offers great value and versatility. They also offer the advantage of asynchronicity because students from anywhere in the world can work at any time of day or night.

Virtual classrooms are classes that meet via the Internet. To meet, the class uses technologies such as groupware, which is also known as "computer-supported cooperative work" and links people on different computers using the same software program. Groupware is primarily a synchronous medium. Listserv centers around electronic text and can be supplemented by electronic mail, the World Wide Web, the telephone and other tools such as audio, multimedia, 3D motels, videoconferencing and form-based surveys. Listserv is an asynchronous medium.

As part of project-based education, students can pursue independent project-based studies at a distance and use e-mail to communicate with the instructor. The student can prepare a report that is developed as a web page. This type of project is also implemented in traditional face-to-face classes.

Event-based education takes advantage of the opportunity offered by the Internet to link people together across great distances so that they can share in a common experience. Such experiences include "cyber-events", such as interviews on-line and concerts. The Internet also offers videoconferencing via the World Wide Web and telepresence science field trips.

In correspondence courses, course materials can be posted on the World Wide Web and students can submit their assignments via e-mail or interactive forms.

Internet and Education: Selected full-text books and articles

Developing an Interactive Social Media Based Learning Environment By Chao, Joseph T.; Parker, Kevin R.; Fontana, Anthony Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology, Vol. 8, Annual 2011
Problem-Based Learning Online By Maggi Savin-Baden; Kay Wilkie Open University Press, 2006
E-Learning Groups and Communities By David McConnell Open University Press, 2006
Adult Education and the Social Media Revolution By LeNoue, Marvin; Hall, Tom; Eighmy, Myron A Adult Learning, Vol. 22, No. 2, Spring 2011
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Evaluation of Distance Education Components: A Case Study of Associate Degree Programs By Gunes, Ali; Altintas, Tugba Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, Vol. 16, No. 3, September 2012
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Online Learning and Teaching in Higher Education By Shirley Bach; Philip Haynes; Jennifer Lewis Smith Open University Press, 2007
Examining the Effectiveness of Web-Based Learning Tools in Middle and Secondary School Science Classrooms By Kay, Robin Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning, Vol. 7, Annual 2011
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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