I'm sure thousands of school children celebrated the decision, by Arnie Schwarzenegger, to not purchase any more textbooks. Unfortunately there is too little money available and, as Governor of California, Mr Schwarzenegger has frozen any further spending. Arnie Schwarzenegger is the real terminator.
Certainly it seems an awful shame but it could have a real benefit.
The reality is that the internet contains much more information that can be easily accessed. The subjects can be presented in a more dynamic way. Videos and self testing can be integrated. Students can be taught as individuals with feedback on their performance. Access to the internet is increasingly widespread though everything from PC's to mobile phones.
It's very exciting to see all these developments and I'm quite envious of the opportunities our children have.
The only concerns are:
Information overload – how do you sort out the bits you want?
Information reliability – how do you know it's truthful?
At least with a textbook there was considerable control over what our children learned.
I'm sure though that the benefits far outweigh the downside. Providing we are aware of the issues there is good reason to encourage our children to question subjects even more – not to accept answers at “face value.” Maybe not even to accept the first answer they have been given. What a brilliant opportunity to develop depth and a quality of knowledge that just hasn't been possible before. Where it once seemed the subject was encapsulated in 300 pages now the whole world can have their say.
The internet is essentially a communication tool and, used well, can be a brilliant resource. So the next time your child ‘logs on' to do their homework you might also like to direct them to think through and around the subject. Perhaps view sites that contain information that might be interesting but not relevant to the subject they have been asked to study.
Let's say they've been asked to write about an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Once the essay is complete would it make the subject come alive if they built a model pyramid or cooked an Egyptian meal? The great thing about the internet is the information is readily to hand. It only takes a few minutes to find, might spark interest, discussion and motivation.
I like textbooks. I like the feel of them and the satisfaction of completing a subject. It's what I was brought up with.
Our children though don't have the same fondness and feel more at home with the virtual world. That's fine too.
What do you think?.
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