Is the Internet Good or Bad for Learning?
by Beverley Paine
We've been online long enough to have a reasonable grasp of how living and learning online affects us. Here's a link to a short informative and somewhat humorous video to hopefully get us thinking about working and learning using the internet: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains .
I know I feel so much better holistically when I have internet free days. It is so easy to live online, to get what we need intellectually and emotionally through that social medium. Before the internet I craved being able to find up-to-date information - the local library, even with inter-library loans, was limited. Connecting with others, offering support and encouragement, making friends, online has been brilliant for me and my family. Lots of positives there.
While I am online life is happening. The sun rises and sets and the garden and house and family members need my attention. It is easy for me to find excuses to attend to the tasks online than it is to discipline myself to take care of the tasks that await me in my immediate environment. It's easier for me to attach more importance to my online life, especially because of the sense of reward and affirmation I feel that arises from the immediacy of the internet with it's rapid responses and instant gratification.
It's not just my mind that I'm concerned about: physical activity is essential for health. We now know that sitting around for most of our lives shortens them. But how we use physically use information technology is changing too.
My mum used to encourage me to read books but if I sat and read books hour after hour and I engaged in my favourite past time I'd be chastised. Mixed messages didn't do much to build my confidence. Seems to me that if we do something in a way that to others looks excessive we're going to get picked on and told it's 'wrong' or 'bad' for us. I've found that's not a constructive or productive way to manage learning.
What I like about this short video is that it isn't condemning the internet or internet use, just asking us to think about what is happening to our brains and how we're learning and to perhaps consider bringing balance into our daily lives by introducing other activities too.
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