Teachers send a clear message in a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which analyzes the use that adolescents make of new technologies to study: young people must be educated so that they know how to take proper advantage of digital advances in their academic life.
The novelties in the field of education have led us to applications for learning or to the entry of video games in classrooms, but it has also made us reflect. Because the important thing is not that new technologies become a regular element in schools and institutes, but that their use is correct.
In our blog, we have already talked about the need for a change of approach when understanding the impact of ICT in the school world. The important thing is their employment and not simply that access to computers in schools is a reality.
Potential to Exploit
For 77 per cent of the teachers surveyed in the study, the Internet and digital search tools have had an especially positive impact on the way their students carry out their work and research. However, 87 per cent think that these technologies are creating a generation that is easily distracted and whose attention span is diminishing.
Whether or not this is true, opinions reflect reality: the importance of educating young people in the correct use of new technologies. Not only in the field of learning, but also in general. The Internet has unleashed unknown possibilities until a few years ago, but students still have to improve their skills to take full advantage of them.
Accustomed to Speed
99 percent of participating teachers agreed with the claim that the Internet allows access to a number of resources that would not otherwise be available. However, only 65 percent of them believe that the network makes students better researchers. They pose the following problem: Users are getting used to thinking that answers are obtained quickly and easily.
Going into Google and asking about a concept has become the most common way to search for information. Of the results offered by the search engine, users are only left with those that appear in the top 10 positions. A large part of the respondents thinks that this method is conditioning students. Now, anyone expects to be able to find the data they need almost immediately and with just a few clicks. But what happens when that doesn’t happen? Is it enough to go to the second page of Google search?
Although the study focuses on education and youth, this pattern can be applied to many other Internet users as well. With Wikipedia as the new place of reference, old encyclopedias and traditional libraries are losing ground as a source of knowledge, because it is easier to connect to the Internet. Are we getting used to everything coming easily to us, without trying?
Despite recognizing many of the virtues of online information, up to 60 percent of teachers think that current technologies are in danger of offering false data that can go unnoticed. Everything that glitters is not gold and everything published on the Internet is not true. This is one of the key points that should be improved with the help of educators. Students should have certain tools to avoid this problem, and can only learn them with help.
Relying directly on Wikipedia is not enough. Checking the sources that are cited on the page or visiting other references are basic notions that should be known, and that any student should take into account when preparing their work in class. Because erroneous or false data should be able to be circumvented if you have the skills to distinguish between truthful and non-truthful information.
Schools could have a lot to say here. Educating your students on the use of new technologies or how to research on the Internet is a task within their reach. And this is something that more than 90 percent of the study’s teachers agree with, who are committed to having classes or courses focused on teaching young people how to use new technologies.
The technology is not the solution itself. Users need to learn how to get the best out of them, and educating young people in that regard is one of the pending tasks. Buying more computers is not as important as teaching how to use them.