The impact of the internet on education

CW internetimpactSince it is was my intention while in school to focus on creating educational multimedia for children, I wanted to focus my research on something that would be related and could prove useful to my chosen field. I would like to focus on 3 areas that the Internet can be or is used to improve education. Interactivity, Collaboration, and communication

Computers have transformed the educational process. They have created a new approach to the learning experience in traditional and non-traditional classroom settings. Computer-assisted instruction has been common for a long time, but the development of multimedia and the World Wide Web has presented many new opportunities for educators. What does the Internet have to offer education?


The Impact of the Internet on Education

Susan Jackman
February 13, 2005


There are three major areas that the Internet can be or is used to improve education: Interactivity, Collaboration, and Communication. There are many issues that are holding back the use of Internet as an educational tool as well as ways around those barriers.
Computers have transformed the educational process; there is no argument about that. They have created a new approach to the learning experience in traditional and non-traditional classroom settings. Computer-assisted instruction has been common for a long time and the development of multimedia and the World Wide Web has presented many new opportunities for educators.
Using online resources instead of textbooks is really not much different. Students read text, look at pictures, and study charts to understand the material. Using a broadband connection also allows the use of video and audio. Multimedia capabilities are very important now that schools have recognized that there are different learning styles and multiple intelligences. Perhaps as important, these online resources allow students to progress at their own pace and even watch or listen to the same segment several times, if they wish. (Buchanan, 2005)

What specifically does the Internet have to offer education?


Providing more interactivity to students has a substantially positive effect on learning. Interactivity allows the students to control, manipulate and explore material and ask students to answer questions that help them to integrate the material. Study shows the use of standards-based video content, powered by a new Internet technology application, increases student achievement. (Reed, 2003).

Positive outcomes of interaction and interactivity

  • Increasing participation and collaboration
  • Developing communication
  • Providing students with feedback
  • Improving elaboration and retention
  • Supporting learner''s independence and control
  • Evolving motivation and understanding
  • Stimulating curiosity and elaboration
  • Determination for closure


Students can now use computers for e-mail, file sharing, completing group projects, and sharing on-line databases. Several students could work together and electronically share information with the other group members. Networked computers are changing the classroom in the same ways they have changed the workplace.

On-line collaboration improves the educational experience with better efficiency and convenience, improved student motivation, effective instructional delivery, improved conditions for learning and allows for better assessment of student progress.

Collaborative classrooms have four main characteristics. The first two characteristics capture changing the relationships that exist between the teachers and the students. The third characterizes new ways that teachers must handle instruction. The fourth characteristic addresses the structure of a collaborative classroom.

Shared knowledge

In a traditional classroom the teacher gives information to the students. The collaborative classroom is shared knowledge. The teacher still has the content, skills, and instruction, and still gives that information to the students, but also value the personal experiences, language, strategies, and culture that the students bring to the classroom.

Shared authority

In most traditional classrooms, the teacher is completely responsible for setting the goals, designing any learning tasks, and assessing what has been learned by the students. Collaborative teachers allow the students to set their own goals within the framework of course, provide different options for activities and assignments, and ask the students to assess what they have learned. Collaborative teachers encourage students listen to diverse opinions, support their claims with evidence, engage in critical and creative thinking, and participate in open and meaningful dialogue. (M.B. Tinzmann, B.F. Jones, T.F. Fennimore, J. Bakker, C. Fine, and J. Pierce, 1990).

Teachers as mediators

With the knowledge and authority being shared between the teachers and students, the teacher''s role focuses on mediated learning. Successful mediation will help the students to connect new information to with their own experiences, help them figure out what to do next when they are stumped, help them learn how to learn and offer enough support to maximize the students ability to take responsibility for their own learning.

Heterogeneous groupings of students

The perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds of all students are important for enriching learning in the classroom. As learning beyond the classroom increasingly requires understanding diverse perspectives, it is essential to provide students opportunities to do this in multiple contexts in schools. (M.B. Tinzmann et al. 1990). In a collaborative classroom everyone learns from everyone else, and every student has the opportunity to make contributions and appreciate the contributions of other students.


Presentation software packages like PowerPoint are incorporated into networked classrooms without difficulty. Teachers can use presentation software to add multimedia content to their lessons. Students can use these software tools as "virtual poster boards" for class reports. Desktop publishing is an important use of computers in today''s schools, from one page flyers to student run newspapers.

Online, Web-based communication has attracted the attention of educators and trainers to the idea of distance education in a way that no earlier technology managed to do. Many agree that Web-based communication is the most significant technological innovation of the last decade.

Web-based communication used to educate

  • Improves access to education by Reducing barriers related to geography, economics, physical/learning disabilities, time constraints
  • Accommodates multiple learning styles/activities
  • Read, make choices, drills, group activities
  • Several communication modes
  • Bring in outside experts or activities that could not happen otherwise
  • More "student centered"
  • Self paced, student selects time/location/information, can revisit material as desired, initiate communication
  • Provide online references, resources, FAQ
  • Provide grade and progress information
  • Internet is a click away
  • Encourages the development of technical skills/sophistication
  • Learn to search, evaluate, synthesize information
  • Computer skills, comfort

The world, once separated by continents, is now interconnected. Information itself has become the premier resource, and the advantages of technology are being spread to all. People around the world have more choices; the challenge involves organizing and evaluating information, not getting enough of it (Hardy, 2001).

What is holding technology back in the classroom?

Lack of teacher enthusiasm to incorporate technology

Faculties at Universities are often hesitant users to use technology in their classrooms and rarely use it in a student-centered way. The main problem is that university faculty already have teaching, research and publishing requirements, and working to integrate technology takes time away from these activities. (Marx, 2005)

Social development is a big concern

In a CNN interview the education professor at the University of Michigan, Jeffrey Mirel, stated that studies have shown that most home-schooled children participate in outside-the-classroom activities with other children and don''t develop social problems. However, social development is a big concern for many. Mirel believes most parents tend to gravitate toward people similar to themselves, or those they have things in common with therefore the diversity in the playgroups may be lacking. "My concerns about home schooling and my concerns about charter schools are very much that the kids are not going to get the kinds of broad experiences with people who are different from them and ideas that are different from those they find at home," Mirel said (cited in Cox, 2004).

Technology changes

Technology is changing and growing so fast that it is hard to have a standard to go by. E learning relies heavily on stable technology, both software and hardware (Wolfson, 2005). A lot of frustrations arise when creating programs and courses for delivery to a PC with specified plug-ins when an upgrade is foreseen in the near future, but we are seeing a larger range of alternatives and a move towards compatibility.

Overcoming Barriers

Currently there are many barriers that need to be overcome regarding the adoption of multimedia technology such as streaming video technology, but there are also ways around these barriers. (Reed, 2003)

Bandwidth limitation

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted over the Internet in a certain amount of time. Internet connection speeds range currently from dial-up modems at 56 Kbps, DSL from 128 Kbps to 8 Mbps and T-1 lines at 1.544 Mbps. The broader the bandwidth, the better quality the streaming video will be. Many schools, libraries and other places of learning currently don''t have sufficient bandwidth to support dependable video streaming, so downloading video is a better option. "The quality of Internet access is critical. Broadband access will be the new standard. Slow, unreliable connections that cannot support interactivity or right multimedia content will no longer be sufficient" (Cited in Reed, 2003). In addition, the Web-Based Education Commission recommends making "powerful new Internet resources, especially broadband access, widely and equitably available and affordable for all learners. We call on federal and state governments to make the extension of broadband access for all learners a central goal of telecommunications policy" (cited in Reed, 2003).

Content challenges and issues

The "Web-Based Education Commission Report" calls on us to "continue and expand efforts to digitize rich educational materials consistent with copyright laws" (cited in Reed, 2003). The challenge of content providers to provide a rich digital resource tool is to meet the highest standards of educational excellence. They need to use content that is easily accessible for students and teachers and must take into account people with disabilities.


The Internet is already a growing educational tool; it is only a matter of time until it is a common educational tool. “The percentage of schools with at least one Internet connection has increased rapidly, from 78 percent in 1997, to 94 percent in 2000, while the percentage of classrooms with Internet access has gone from 27 percent in 1997, to 82 percent in 2000” (Digital Economy). The barriers that keep it out of classrooms are being broken down and a nationwide attempt is being made to bring technology into traditional classrooms.


Bruce Buchanan (2005, February) The Broadband Buzz: High-speed
Internet access opens opportunities for learning. American School Board Journal, Special Reports
Amy Cox (August 13, 2004) Moving out of the traditional classroom:
Alternatives emerge on the education scene, CNN
Stephen C. Ehrmann and Mauri Collins (2001, September) Educational
Technology Magazine,
Lawrence Hardy (2001, July) High Tech High. American School Board
Journal, Vol.1 188, No. 7
Steven Marx (2005, January) Improving Faculty Use of Technology in a
Small Campus Community. T.H.E. Journal, feature
Ron Reed (2003, February) Streaming Technology Improves Student
Achievement, T.H.E. Journal, special feature
David Wolfson (2005, Janruary, 01) Whats holding e-learning back?
Training Magazine,
M.B. Tinzmann, B.F. Jones, T.F. Fennimore, J. Bakker, C. Fine,
and J. Pierce (1990) What is the Collaborative Classroom?
NCREL, Oak Brook
Digital Economy, Retrieved February 10, 2005, from

Tags: Internet, education, tech ed, collaboration, communication, interactivity, barriers