Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is the Internet Making us Smarter or Dumber?

There is an ongoing debate about how the internet, the wide open, world wide vehicle for communication and information exchange, is impacting us personally and us as a society. For example, here are two links to articles that take a total different side to the issue:
Does the Internet Make You Dumber? by N. Carr
Does the Internet Make You Smarter? by C. Shirky

I think the internet, like any other tool before it (i.e. TV, paper press), cannot be blamed for helping or hindering learning in an individual or us as a society. I'd like to believe that individuals and society are responsible for their own intelligence. However, I also relate with N. Carr by recognizing that with the increase of technology and the huge availability of information, the level of distraction, skimming, and shallow reading detract from actual comprehension and understanding. But is that the internet's fault?

For example, if I am a student in a classroom with access to Wi-Fi and I am distracted by TSN, Facebook, and Twitter, is it the internet's fault that I do not comprehend as much information as I could be if I would not be on these sites? Or is it the genius of the internet if I am gleaning more information by reflecting on the class information on a blog post or collaborating with other students on a class project using Twitter? Deciding to be distracted or become engaged online is the final decision of the internet user. I think the only way the internet will be successful in increasing individual and societal intelligence is if we as users take ownership over how we use it.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Yeah, it is kinda a tough topic at this point. I obviously think that the internet is a great thing and is going to be a positive for education and society - its just such a great method for sharing information. As teachers its going to become our job to start teaching students how to take the time to dig deeply into the the information on the internet - and to know when information is truthful, and when someone is trying to manipulate them.