"The Internet is the world's largest library. It's just that all the books are on the floor". This is a personal reflection on the impact of Internet technologies on higher education around the world over the last 13 years. It chronicles my observations of differences between perceptions and realities, of enthusiasm and disappointment, and the changes that have taken place in learning, teaching, and the structure of higher education during this period. Based on the work of others, this reflection also includes a prediction of the near term introduction of new instructional technologies and draws implications for higher education from these predictions and this history. The Context of Learning, always takes place in both a general context (language, country, geographical location) and a context created specifically for the learning process (classroom, technological infrastructure, course design). When learning materials cross national, language, and cultural borders, the issue of context becomes even clearer. Now, there is the increasing realization that materials produced in one country (or even hemisphere) must undergo extensive "localization" (and/or translation) in order to be useful.
Perhaps no other influence has so affected the face of higher education than the World Wide Web. Nearly every aspect of learning that was once thought to be set in concrete, no longer is. The typical student no longer has to be white, between the ages 18-22, and want to be a doctor. Thanks to such things as distance education, busy house wives can receive a degree from an accredited institution without ever having to step a foot on a university campus. Business people can work on work on finishing their master's thesis while on assignment in India. Also, universities themselves have changed to match the times. Smaller colleges in order to compete with larger schools are offering more on-line course. Major corporations are now offering to pay for their employees to receive their degrees or training on-line as well. Many statistical studies prove that 3 out of 4 students strongly disagreed that they could have survived the educational demands of college without the internet.
Technology is enabling multi-modal teaching, changing curricula and spawning rich forms of online research and collaboration. "Within 24 hours, students interested in reviewing a certain case or topic can click an online index that charts the content of the entire class and can view the portion that interests them." Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today's knowledge economy, the possibilities are great. Distance education, sophisticated learning-management systems and the opportunity to collaborate with research partners from around the world are just some of the transformational benefits that universities are embracing.
University Adapt the Internet and use of computer technology, i.e. Internet capabilities to promote distance learning is a rapidly growing practice in the education industry, especially in the role of continuing education. While it is widely agreed that the move to the internet to provide an online, virtual classroom to further the practice of distance learning is an area that the field of education is destined to go, different types of institutions differ in thought as to what this practice will mean with respect to their futures. This differing of opinion has sparked debate between large, public colleges, and smaller schools like community colleges and private universities.
Distance education, or earning a degree online is a rapidly growing industry already slated to be worth billions. While many people waste countless hours surfing on the net looking at nothing more than garbage, many people are investing their time into new ways of improving their education. Although many people and institutes of higher education are embracing this new revolution in education. The Effects of the Internet on the College Student Experience are with the explosive growth of the Internet over the last few years, researchers have been scrambling to do studies on its effects on education. Probably, the area of education most affected by information technology is that at the university level. There is no doubt that the WWW opens an entire world of information at the feet of it users. However many people in higher education worry how their students will use such a tool. There is a concern that students will opt for the ease of access of sources on-line rather than doing the old-fashioned search for information at the library.
Many researchers have also wondered what sites college students look at, how minority students view the new technology, and how this body of knowledge must be used to best benefit students in or outside of the class.
Some smaller universities see this as a threat to their target student body and, therefore, monetary income. Larger universities say that small and private schools have nothing to worry about. In response to the rising competition from large public universities, small schools are trying to implement several practices that will attempt to draw and keep their target student body. One of these ideas is the uniting of several small community colleges to form one institution of interconnecting and transferring distance learning courses. Both large and small schools, however agree that the use of distance learning is not perfect, and students should not be fooled into a sense of comfort when considering them.
But significant challenges also loom. For all of its benefits, technology remains a disruptive innovation-and an expensive one. Faculty members used to teaching in one way may be loath to invest the time to learn new methods, and may lack the budget for needed support. This paper examines the role of technology in shaping the future of higher education. University respondents view technology as having a largely positive impact on their campuses, but acknowledge that operational challenges may hinder the full benefits from being realized (for example, tenure, promotions and other organizational practices may need adjustment to encourage faculty members to adopt new technologies). In addition, technology may be disruptive in ways not intended: respondents note a rise in student plagiarism, cheating and distractibility, which they attribute to easy and ready access to mobile technologies.
It is surprisingly easy these days to find serious people in higher education still debating whether online and distance education is better or worse than traditional classroom education, or whether the Internet and new learning technologies are simply introducing natural incremental improvements in education rather than being a transformative. These arguments are based largely on perceptions supported by anecdotal evidence. Worse, they are irrelevant in two ways. First, while it is difficult to collect information, there is a growing body of statistics and metrics that tell what is really going on and we can observe for ourselves, everyday, often in our own institutions, what is happening. More people are using the Internet to teach and learn, more technologies based on the Internet are being developed and used, and communication is improving and speeding up, and so on. The accumulation of these observable phenomena argues strongly for the transformative view, but, whatever view one takes, behaviors are being altered. Second, there are things happening that we can't observe or measure yet, although the tools are becoming available in some respects. Take a hypothetical example in which a student has a choice of finding out some information for a paper either in the traditional way of browsing the stacks, selecting books, reading them, and then writing his paper or, alternatively restricting his search to only that information available on the web. Suppose that each search method resulted in him finding exactly the same information. It is my contention that the method of search for the material might have a more profound effect on the learning that took place than the production of the result. Different parts of the body were employed; different synapses in the brain were firing. The differences in these physiological events are likely to alter the consciousness of the student in regard to the subject under study and the process of learning. The Internet is largely responsible for this change in the context of learning, in the context of teaching, in the context for education that is having, at this moment the most profound effect. Just as neuroscience is challenging traditional aspects of the legal system and stem cell research is challenging religious beliefs, the Internet is challenging higher education. Perhaps the most important contribution of the Internet to education to date is that it has helped us to recognize this challenge. I conclude with an assertion that the Internet has already transformed higher education and that we can expect more rapid changes in the near future, changes that will alter not only learning, but the consciousness of all learners.