As we all know the Internet is full of information, advice, media and commentary. It is often hard to sift through all the information that can be found on a subject to find what is important and factual. However, there are many good sources of information that can be trusted, with people putting their reputation on the line and regularly delivering high quality educational material.
You may have heard of TED.com, which is a collection of videos from excellent speakers across the world, all giving talks at the TED Foundation conferences. These talks are recorded, uploaded and freely available for anyone to stream or download to their PC. Many of the speakers are famous people and some are leaders in their field, however even with some of the most obscure topics there are often points raised that will benefit nearly everyone. The top three videos ordered by the amount of views are:
1 – Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity – 11,213,898 views
2 – Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight – 8,856,587 views
3 – Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology – 8,451,852 views
TED in itself is a well organised great resource, although there are many other elements of the web promoting education and actually delivering well thought-out and composed videos to promote learning. One example of this is the TheFlameChallenge.org which meets the challenge of explaining a complex subject to 11 year olds.
On the site they state: “This year we asked scientists to explain ‘What is a flame’ in a way 11-year-olds would understand and enjoy”.
The competition was won by Ben Ames who produced a fun video which explains very clearly what a flame is, and the video itself is so good it would encourage viewers to learn more about the facts raised. Individual schools do not have the resources available to deliver such high quality learning material, by using material from the web, children will have the ability to learn at an accelerated speed.
A more home-grown example of educational material found on the Internet is the math videos created by ViHart.com. Vi is a lady who is passionate about explaining mathematics topics by drawing fun doodles on paper, speeding up her drawing speed, then providing clear commentary to hard topics such as Infinity, Pi and Pythagoras theorem. Vi Hart has shared her skills with the world using the Internet and in return has been emloyed as a ‘Mathemusician’ at the Khan Academy a not-for-profit educational website.
With these examples of great educational resources online, we are seeing the best educators promoting their work and giving it away for free. Because of this everyone who has access to the Internet can benefit, and the speed people learn is increased. For school children this provides a great advantage, however it does make one wonder if children will end up knowing more than adults.
The days of a teacher only staying ahead of the children by reading the next few chapters of a text book are gone. So for some time, children and adults alike may find that they can learn more than their teachers and become used to a world class level of teaching. This should encourage teachers to be even more knowledgeable and to practice their teaching skills, being lead by the best online examples.
If teachers do not keep up, their pupils will quickly lose respect and this could cause all sorts of changes to historic teaching methods. No longer will a talk down approach work, more group discussions will need to occur where the teacher doesn’t always know best. Maybe classrooms will become more like discussion forums and learning will be done as homework online, this would certainly be a sign of how the world is changing thanks to the Internet.
– By Dirk Strongthorne
*Author’s Bio: Dirk Strongthorne – Dirk has interests across many topics and enjoys writing for the web. He feels written communication is the best form of sharing knowledge due to the thought and time put into copy. Dirk feels that verbal communication allows people to ask questions and answers, however all verbal communication should start from well thought-out views and thoughts. He writes for Degree Jungle, a resource for college students.