Why Teachers should learn about them
1. The Internet is about information and information access for every discipline.
It is not a perfect source, but it is a source which will become increasingly important because it makes information available to everyone with a connection. It makes the life of the mind richer, easier, and more dynamic. What it fails to do is interpret that information--thus faculty have an important role in teaching critical evaluation of Internet information. Very few others are conveying the message that information from this source must be critically evaluated. This task is a natural extension of our societal role as information specialists. Whether we want to or not, if we claim to be experts in our field they will expect us to understand the Internet sources of information.
2. Using the Internet or gadgets is motivating to many students.
Because of the quick response time and treasure hunt aspects, “surfing the net” is pleasurable for many students. They will actively pursue information rather than be a passive recipient. Technology gadgets capture the attention for at least a period of time. Anything that helps to motivate the student to seek knowledge is worth investigating.
3. The Internet and Electronic mail is about connecting people through their ideas.
Technology is a means to an end and that end is communication which is fundamental to the educational process. Communication is also vital to research, publication, creation and all the other idea based things that faculty do. It is easier to connect our students to this networking aspect of our individual disciplines when they can participate directly-- and they can via the Internet. We, too, can profit from electronic communication. It is easier and faster to contact colleagues, to engage in collaborative activities, and to discuss teaching, research or service problems. We can present our ideas to the world via the Internet and receive quick feedback and advice.
4. The business of a university is connecting traditional knowledge with new understandings.
The Internet is one of those new understandings, like printing or language or the opposable thumb once were. Faculty serve as the bridge for society between ways things have always been done, and ways they will be done. We can not be that bridge if we have not walked on it ourselves. It will be harder to be competitive as professionals if we cannot use these tools (because others are adopting them).
5. Old ways, (books, lecture) while still primary and irreplaceable for conveying knowledge, can be supplemented with new technologies (e.g., videotape or specialized software) to produce qualitatively different outcomes and understandings.
It is the difference between telling, showing, and having the student do something. All are essential, all provide unique experiences. Together they are more powerful than any one alone. Understanding all gives you the option of deciding which and how you want to use them to accomplish your objectives. Understanding only one limits you to that one.
6. The Internet offers us a way of introducing our students to a more diverse world, of preparing them for the global village, of teaching them to value new learning and experiences.
This is a cost-effective way of providing cross-cultural experiences and a way for a student to communicate without others judging them by appearance, sex, accent or qualities other than the effectiveness of their written language. (Which, by the way, may motivate them to improve their writing). It can challenge our regionally focused students to think more broadly. It can help our more unique students find a support group sharing their concerns.
7. It can be fun or at least stimulating.
A challenge of teaching is to avoid burnout and cope with the days when the task of conveying knowledge seems tedious. Spending some time on the Internet or in learning new tools can re-acquaint you with the excitement of your field, of teaching, and of learning. It can provide perspective if used appropriately. It can revive a feeling of excitement and anticipation.
8. Technology skills are becoming as fundamental as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
To the extent that your profession relies on electronic communication and/or that you believe every teacher must convey standards for performance in the fundamentals (e.g., writing across the curriculum) then you will want to give students the opportunity to practice their basic technology skills in your classroom. Being an effective citizen seems to increasingly depend on being able to use the Internet or other technology (e.g., submitting taxes electronically).
Personal edification is a decent reason for exploring technologies. It is increasingly awkward to not understand conversations or to be unable to discuss news reports on technological trends.
9. The information revolution is upon us.
If we are specialists in seeking and interpreting information (the meaning implicit in earning a doctorate or other advanced degree), then we will want to learn to use every tool that may assist us in our pursuits, to learn to evaluate those tools critically so we can pass that understanding along to our students and those with whom we consult.
Technology will not teach our classes for us-- that requires a human being to adjust
and adapt and interpret. It will not replace techniques honed over hundreds of years.
Technology’s potential for problems is there along with its potential for achievements.
As information experts we need to be in the forefront of exploring and preparing society
for the challenges technology presents to us as well as the opportunities.
The Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching
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