Does the Internet make us smarter? The information age only makes us smarter if we use it for that. The issue is how do people actually use the internet and what are the greater expected social effects.
A. The internet revolutionizes learning. This perspective states that we learn much, and our social expectations change to incorporate this knowledge base.
1. It is now standard to use the internet for detailed answers to virtually any question. There is less use of incomplete information, or waiting until a knowledgeable person is found. For a simple question, such as how to set the default font on your word program, a simple search is completed and used in only a couple minutes. Less common issues, such as how to set the view mirrors on your car to eliminate blind spots, are easily addressed, with some people learning to seek out professional answers to any question. This will lead to more analytical thinking, such as this procedure for diagnosing car problems, as people use detailed analysis rather than rumor or incomplete information. Even mild browsing can bring in useful information, as seen in the popular eHow site.
2. Expectations of knowledge and computer competence increase for every grade level. With most households having computers, and adults having at least basic competence, even young children are used to using computers for knowledge and work. From very young ages they are expected to find assignments online, check test scores and keep up to date on school issues, such as this South Salem High School site. Students are also able to bypass some of the drudgery of education, such as using Citationmachine to create their bibliography entries rather than try to memorize the formats required. Interestingly enough some teachers seem to be less computer literate than their students. Look at how Sparknotes has evolved to look more like a popular news website, and also display the most common books students are required to read. Students know to go here to quickly summarize a book, but some teachers still assume that assigning book reports for the same books used for decades is a “new” assignment. Student use has pushed Sparknotes to even cover broad topics such as general European History from 1871.
3. Learning continues outside the classroom. When you see a site such as Map Puzzles it is difficult to distinguish between play and learning. If learning become a part of everyday activity, and entertainment, then it is much easier to learn more.
B. The internet is expanding communication and the range of knowledge we can easily have. Blogs can range from the simplistic to much more intelligent. Cartoons, once relegated to the “funny pages” of newspapers,have evolved to become knowledge-based comics for those who want to keep up to date on politics in an entertaining format. Group communication is expanded as well, as social media sites give continual access to input from multiple individuals and groups. Questions, or work, can be sourced to friends at any time of the day.
Examine the following site and answer two questions:
Site is: Sieger
1. Is it likely that you would ever go to this site on your own?
2. What type of person would go to a site like this?
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