Why can’t kids learn online? I did.

Having had many conversations with various teachers, I am always astonished to hear some question how they could use the Internet to teach their students. I realize that there could be several reasons behind this skepticism. I am hoping that the biggest reason is simply that they do not know how to incorporate it into their classroom. There lies the potential  – if we remain open to using various technologies like the Web, we can always learn how to best utilize it to our students’ advantage. If we are close-minded, we will not learn.

This conversation always get me thinking about my own personal learning curve. Google has become my new teacher… or rather guide to new learning. I love photography. I love to learn about photography and to practice my skills. Where did I learn most of these skills? I learned them on the Internet. The search engine (mine is Google) has allowed me to find information about this topic. It has never been so easy.

Let’s take this one step further. The current generation of students are frequently visiting social networking sites and social media sites. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are some examples of social sites where students tend to hang out. They have shown us they like to collaborate and to learn together. This is partly why I use social networking in my classroom. If I look at how I started to learn and grow quicker, I demonstrate the same desires. I joined sites like Flickr where I post my pictures and then discuss and critique photos in the various online communities on Flickr. This collaborative learning as we critiqued each others’ photos was instrumental in getting me to think differently about my photography. It has been mind stretching to have immediate contact with other photographers from around the world.

Why can’t kids learn online? I did. We just need to inform people and be constantly in conversation about how to go about helping students find the resources they need to be more independent and initiate self-learning. Isn’t that our goal? That our students are prepared for the future and that they become life long self-learners? The scary thought is that perhaps most students have figured this out for themselves thereby leaving teachers behind to learn this for themselves.

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