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In the last decade internet usage has increased dramatically, but how is the popularity of the internet affecting our educational systems? Schools nationwide are spending a lot of money on computer systems in order to provide internet access to students in hopes of increasing their learning. However, is the internet really enhancing students learning or making them dumber as Carr states in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid”?

College campuses are the perfect example of how computers are taking over our educational system; nearly every college student in the US owns at least one computer (mostly laptops). Students carry them around everywhere they go, for college campuses have installed local networks that allow internet connection almost anywhere on campus. This is beneficial in respect to accessibility to information in a quick and “easy” manner. However, the information accessed may not be the most accurate or credible.

The World Wide Web of knowledge, known as the internet, puts information at our finger tips, nonetheless, just how we can access existing information we are able to add or edit that information. This ability to write what we want and make it accessible to the world hinders the benefits of the internet in academia for not everything can be trusted. The sources are not reliable or accurate in all the search results you get from popular search engines like Google and Wikipedia. If I can go online and edit or create a Wikipedia article on Antarctica, without having any knowledge of the subject other than that it is cold, what leads you to believe that the information someone else posted is accurate. In effect the doubt is always lingering on your mind of whether the information is true which leads to the need of searching for more sources that confirm the information, in result making the process of accessing information [completing assignments] longer, more time consuming. In essence, it defeats its purpose.

According to Carr, the internet is “remapping” the way in which we process information and in effect changing the way we think. He understands and accepts the benefits the internet has brought upon his own writing career but realizes that these benefits come at a price. The internet is in fact changing our abilities to process information and print, for the style of language used in the web is different from that in books. He said: “what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski (Carr, 2008).”

This is exactly what is happening to college students; the need to be informed about a variety of subjects’ leads to a lot of browsing through the internet in search of general information on the topics, and not deep understanding or comprehension. The internet is making us aware of many issues but preventing us from sustaining an argument or conversation on the issues. Students are getting information for the upcoming test but fail to recall the information later on. Can this be considered learning? When you learn something you should remember it beyond the date of your exam. The internet encourages us to become lazy and not take the time to read until we have a clear understanding of the subject at hand, besides why bother when you can always type another question to the search engine. Students are becoming more dependent on the internet and consequently dumber. I personally have fallen into the habit of going online and using Google to answer many questions regarding class assignments and daily conversations with my friends. As if we cannot afford to take the time to discuss an issue until we reach an agreement on our own, instead, we rely heavily on the search engine to tell us which argument is correct and which are not. However, when you think about it carefully, it has nothing to do with the amount of time available for discussion but the fact that we don’t have the knowledge required for an in depth discussion on the issue as a result of the surface knowledge we obtain through browsing; as Carr mentioned we “zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski (Carr, 2008)” which in effect leads to more browsing.

One way in which colleges can fight the popularity of the internet and its influence on learning is by limiting access to the internet on campuses. I suggest no wireless access in the classrooms for students. This idea may seem bizarre or unrealistic to the modern day universities, but remain open-minded and I assure you it is not an outrageous thought. As a college student myself, I have noticed that the majority of the classrooms have a desktop computer available for the professors use connected to an internet outlet, and a projector. Professors would have internet access available to them when needed and the projectors in the classrooms can make the materials/ web pages visible to all students from the professor’s desktop. As a result the instructor would have control of what their students are attending to in class more efficiently.

Therefore, if wireless connection is not available in the classrooms it would not interfere with the professors’ lectures or lesson plans. However, it would raise the students’ attention span and in effect their learning. I understand that many students prefer taking notes on their laptops so prohibiting the use of computers in general could diminish some students learning abilities, in the other hand, allowing the use of computers but no internet access enhances their learning for it removes a lot of the distractions from the college classroom and students may still take notes on their laptops for Microsoft Word Office does not require internet connection.

You might be wondering what distractions exist in a university classroom full of adults who are paying so much money to attend these courses. Well the internet is the source of most distractions. Students are constantly browsing the internet; chat rooms, games, sports updates and online shopping are the most commonly used websites. It is disrespectful for the professors who are sharing their knowledge with us, and to the classmates who are here to learn as much as possible.

The internet takes away from the learning community of a classroom in which input is necessary for learning; because of the lack of participation from those students constantly online, everyone benefits from others questions and insights. I am tired of sitting in a lecture room, in which the seats are all elevated, and every time I look down to the row in front of me, seeing Facebook pictures or even worst, underwear. We are adults now and should have a clear understanding of boundaries so let’s behave like adults and demonstrate appropriate social behavior. If you really need to buy underwear from Victoria Secret please do it during your free time, the rest of us don’t need to know what type or size of underwear you wear. By taking away wireless access you in effect take away the ability for students to become distracted by the wide variety of websites available to them in the internet, thus eliminating the majority of distractions.

Having restrictions on internet usage in classrooms is beneficial, for its easier to assure students remain focus on the task at hand and actually learn the material which in the end would save us all time. Why do most students use the internet in the first place? It saves them time. Who would have thought that eliminating wireless access from the classroom would save us all some time as well. It will save precious time to professors for they won’t need to have students ask the same questions over and over again during class or office hours. It saves the students (who are the ones doing the browsing) time later on in the semester when midterms and finals come along, because the better you understand a topic when it is introduced the less you would need to study or cram before the exams, allowing you more flexibility in the amount of time you spend on the topics you struggle with resulting in a better grade, which we all know is a big priority on college campuses.

In addition to saving professors and students’ time, restrictions on the internet usage saves the universities time also. For example, Vanderbilt University has an honor code to which all students are hold responsible to respect. With internet restrictions students are less likely to commit plagiarism for the ability to copy and paste information from online articles is limited. Less plagiarism diminishes the amount of hearings/ council meetings necessary to determine the consequences or actions to follow, saving everyone time. Furthermore, don’t forget it also gives a good name to the university as a whole.

An internet-free classroom is beneficial for both professors and students. For instance, it helps students remain more focused on the tasks at hand and open for discussions. The more students participate the better understanding professors have of the areas in which students are struggling, and adjustments to lessons can be made accordingly thus building an integrated classroom community of active members that share a common goal; to learn.

It is important that we keep in mind that the use of the internet is beneficial as a resource not as a fundamental element of our education. How reliable is technology in the classroom when even in a college classroom full of computer savvy professors and students class is dismissed early due to computer failure? If this occurs on college campuses how would the other educational institutions overcome technological failures? Remember, budgets are smaller and resources limited. The internet cannot be regarded as the main source of knowledge, for it is not always reliable and it can never replace our own thought processes.

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