Using the Internet for Teaching & Learning
Mike Battersby offers some techniques, in this excerpt from Learning Online's full book
In using the Web in this way a major purpose is to develop information skills, which is perhaps the most significant educational benefit from the use of information technology. By using information technology, skills which in the past have been needed, but where the need has possibly been mainly implicit, can now be made much more explicit. In a technological information-based society such as a developed post industrial society, the need to have information skills is central to many occupations as well as home and leisure activities.
Depending on the degree to which a task is detailed by a teacher, the initial skill may be the formulation of a key question or hypothesis that will, if answered, provide the evidence that is needed to make a statement or conclusion about a topic being investigated. Alternatively a teacher may set a topic or title to be investigated and structure it.
Following on from the starting point of having an aim or goal to achieve in the investigation or project being undertaken, then other information handling skills which can be developed from the use of the Web may include:
Evaluating the credibility of the source of information which produces the site and its content:
Once the general validity is assessed then other information skills come into play:
These skills are, of course, the same skills needed as always in, for example, the writing of an essay or project but the use of information technology, and the Web in particular as the greatest (in quantity) information source of all time, can make the development of these skills more explicit and add new forms of classroom activity in the development of them. The end results can also be presented in a wider variety of ways, including publishing the work on the Web itself for the whole world to see (potentially)! The quality of output and the potential world-wide audience may act to motivate pupils.
Information technology tools can reduce the amount of time and effort spent on routine tasks e.g. removing the need for items to be rewritten or re-typed if revised, instead being edited dynamically. This should allow more time for the development of the skills listed and so aid development of learning in these ways.
A pupil who has a high ability at analysis and synthesis may be better able to express themselves in electronic form than if, say, their handwriting is poor. They are therefore likely to get more recognition of the skills they have than where they are obscured by the inability of the teacher to read the work submitted.
The use of the Web may also be an aid to structuring work in a methodical fashion. For example a pupil may find it helpful to follow a sequence of actions such as:
While, in some ways, these skills may be quite sophisticated, they are appropriate to all age ranges. Even if their application is far more elementary in form when undertaken by younger pupils, the skills may essentially be similar.
Activities to discourage
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