Has Teaching Become Harder Now That All the Answers Are on the Internet?
Teachers probably all agree that students need to be taught to think critically. The increasing use of technology in classrooms makes it difficult to be sure that students are actually thinking for themselves, rather than using Google to find answers and to simply copy/paste information. Whether or not all answers can be found on the internet is a moot point.
Certainly the internet can be used to find answers to certain (but not all) questions. Students need to be taught to find answers and cross-check hem so that they are sure that they have the correct answers. They have to be taught how to choose reliable sites and to ignore less prestigious ones which do not contain factual information. Teachers have to teach in new ways and equip heir students for this digital age. In so doing, they may themselves have to learn new skills and this is not a bad thing.
Some people are questioning the role technology has in classrooms, asserting that the attention spans of pupils are lower than they were in the past, because of their use of the internet. Whether this is actually true or not remains to be seen.
It’s not simply that the answers can be found on the internet that makes teaching harder than it was in the past. Pupils lack respect for their teachers, making discipline a problem. Teachers have ongoing in-service training, and are still expected to teach a full schedule. The onus is on teachers to perform well, and school inspections can be a trying time for all concerned.
Parental expectations may be unrealistically high, and are probably higher than they were in the past. Parents are also not as respectful to teachers as they were in the past and this does nothing to improve morale.
Of course, there are some teachers who tend to feel insecure using technology in the classroom. An averages group of teenagers are probably more tech-savvy than their teachers. However, using technology in the classroom makes lessons more interesting for pupils who have grown up in the digital age. Its use may help lessen discipline problems and it could motivate pupils who dislike ‘chalk and talk’ lessons.
Using the internet and other technologies can also help to engage kinaesthetic learners. When I was teaching, it was this group of learners that I found most difficult to plan activities for. Of course, praise and encouragement go a long way towards providing extrinsic motivation, but intrinsic motivation is what should teachers should be fostering. The internet could be one way of encouraging this.
One of the problems with the internet is that teachers can no longer be certain that what they are marking is a student’s own work. There are many sites that provide students with essays and so on; it’s a lucrative business.
If used appropriately in the classroom, the internet can help students immensely. Teaching has not been made harder because of it. It may seem so to some teachers who have failed to utilise computer technologies in their classrooms, but these are the teachers who need training in how to best use technology and the internet in their classrooms.
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