Value Of Internet For Theological Research English Language Essay

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Gates describes the internet as a powerful and compelling technology, from its conception in the academic community to the commercialization and development by the private sector. Lee C, Wanak states that 'the 21st century theological educator has got more tools at his disposal' and that the 'role of the teachers and educational institutions will also evolve. The need for internet research is of great importance to private and for public educational development. These ideas pose a unique question: what is the value of the internet for theological research? In this paper the question will be explored as one starts to look at both the challenges and advantages of internet usage, as well as to how the internet adds value to the research students are doing.

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The impact the internet has on theological research:

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Wanak comments 'The basic questions a theological educator must ask is "what knowledge is of most worth for the 21st century?" as students seek answers to academic, ministerial and Spiritual life-related questions'. [4] . With the growing need for answers, a student is faced with the problem of where to find the relevant information. The student also is faced with the question: is the information academically correct? In a study done by Hansen it is found that 'one can find all the information one needs and also notes that one should always be careful 'The quality and trust worthiness of finding the bulk of your research for a paper that way, however is highly subject'. [5] . Wanak suggests that to develop as a lifelong learner the educator must think of ways that are helping the students to think both creatively and critically especially in an ever changing world where information is increasing at radical rate. [6] . Gates compares 'The internet of today to that of Henry Ford, model T era and that we have seen many amazing things and there are more amazing things to come, and that this is only the dawn of the internet age'. [7] With these statements one can easily come to the conclusion that the internet is on its way to becoming a primary source of gaining information, and with the rapid advancements of the internet one has to look at ways of gaining the information one needs that is not only of value but also credible. Harris compares the information on the internet to that of the magazine section in your local grocery store. If one just grabs the first magazine without looking or paying attention to what one is taking, the likelihood of taking a tabloid rather than an educational book is more likely. Harris continues the analogy by saying if the owner of the store allows anyone to put magazines on the shelf one is even more likely to find what one is not looking for. The end of the idea is this: what is one going to get if one should just reach out blindly and take from that shelf? [8] If one is not careful with the overwhelming information that is available and is being added to the internet regularly, one can get lost or as Hansen writes 'just about anyone can write information and post it on the internet. What you find, though, often isn't accurate or appropriate for a college paper' [9] . Both Hansen and Harris concede that the information is overwhelming on the internet and that it is vital for one to assess the credibility of the source for it to add value to the paper one is writing. There are a lot of ways for one to determine the value of the source, one of the ways one can assess is using 'credibility, accuracy, reasonableness'. [10] Also referred to as the: c.a.r.s model. In which the researcher looks at the web page to assess the reliability of the information that it contains.

The challenges and advantages of internet research:

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One of the major advantages a student has in doing internet research is the abundance of journal articles as well as web pages and with more and more information being added it becomes vital to understand the advantages and disadvantage of the internet as Gates explains it that 'in the years ahead, the internet will have an even more profound effect on the way we work, live and learn' [11] . It stresses the point that students write differently as well as learn differently, also people come from different walks of life, Wanak comments that 'although it is unlikely that the classroom will disappear, people are learning through such high tech methodologies as internet based courses' and adds that two of the major concerns are that the schools are spending money on high tech technology without thinking of the financial or ethical issues amidst a poor region. Secondly two-thirds of students will download materials and courses without critically looking at it'. [12] White comments that' academics from varied institutions and countries are engaged in the important task of articulating ethical guide lines for those who research using the 2owever they have failed to provide users and researches with important information.' [13] Harris confirms that though the internet has an abundance of information existing in large quantities and varieties and is created for many purposes, as well as on different levels of quality. The problem comes that no one has to approve the content before its made public, it is therefore the job of the searcher to evaluate what one locates to determine if the information suits the needs. [14] Wanak says that

More than ever, the 21st century theological educator will need to know how to nurture skills of application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation in developing critical thinking in students and by doing so it goes beyond filling the head with knowledge or the heart with devotion it prepares the whole person to summon his

world to the rule of the kingdom. [15] 

Jones adds that, a challenge for students is that there are no traditional methods of studying the World Wide Web or anything that is internet related. He further states that one should continue to ask oneself: what are the methods scholars are already using to study the internet? [16] It becomes important to understand and come to grips with the changes being brought about in the world of net working. [17] Harris adds that in order to be proficient in selecting sources it will 'require experience and that source evaluation-the determination of information quality-is something of an art'. [18] By asking oneself what kind of information are fair and objective as well as the likelihood of it being credible as part of a pre-evaluation of the sources and not just taking the first source one can find is of greater value towards the research paper one is writing. [19] According to Wanak - the internet is adding more information that is useful every day and, as the schools grows, it develops programs with specialization in bible, theology, and pastoral studies and, that the educator will be able to address the diversity and the focus of global communications. [20] With communication becoming simpler and more cost effective students are able to break down the barriers. [21] Both Wanak and Gates agree that as the high tech revolution steams ahead it becomes easier to communicate, and cost effective and that one of the ways a student can hand his assignments in through e-mail, thus making it easier for both the student and educator to communicate with one another. [22] 

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The value of the internet for theological research is found in the way the student does the research and by the means of gaining the sources that are needed to complete the task. As well as understanding, that the student gains information on different levels. The aim of the theological educator is to be able to guide students in thinking contextually regarding the specific target groups, and 'helping students shaping their affections, sorting out their values, and acting on their commitments in the power of the Sprit. Even though there is not a set way of doing research on the internet it is important that the educator helps to develop the student by guiding them in ways to do internet research. By doing this not only will the information on a theological paper be credible and of value both to the student and educator will equally benefit from it.

Bibliographies:

Gates, Bill, 'The Evolution of Internet and Technologies that are Helping Connect People to Information Resources and to each Other Shaping the Internet Age' 12 (200) <http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/billg/writing/shapingtheinternet. mspx> [accessed 26/3/2011]

Hansen, K.,' A Discussion of Major Sources of the Major Sources Students use in Developing and Research Papers. Includes Primary, Secondary, Tertiary; Traditional and Online, Identifying, Understanding, and Evaluating Research Sources' <http://www.mycollegesuccessstory.com/academic-success- tools/understanding- research-sources.html> [accessed 21/3/2011]

Harris, Robert, 'Evaluating Internet Research Sources Virtual Salt '22.10 (2010) <http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm> [accessed 26/3/2011]

Jones, Steve, 'Doing Internet Research: Forward Critical Issus and Methods of Examining the Net <http://stevejones.me/dir.html> [accessed 26/3/2011]

Wanak, Lee C., 'Theological Education and the Role of Teaching in the 21st Century: A look at the Asia Pacific Region Cyber Journal for Pentecostal-CharismaticResearch'26.10(1999) <http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj7/wanak.html> [accessed 26/3/2011]

White, Michele , 'Representations or People Internet Research Ethics <http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/ethics_whi_full.html> [accessed 25/3/2011]