The Computer and Internet, While Being Useful, Can Never Replace the Classroom and the Teacher
Yes, I would agree with that view. While the computer and Internet provide a wealth of information and a source of entertainment, it is not the ideal environment for teaching and learning. The computer and the Internet are like our textbooks and encyclopedias. However, all-encompassing they are, they are still not replacements for the classroom and the teacher. One does not gain all the knowledge in life from the Internet or from textbooks; rather, one gains knowledge through the process of reading and learning. The experience of gaining knowledge is also as important, if not more important, than knowledge itself.
One must realise that while the computer and Internet provide the necessary knowledge, it is the classroom and the teacher that provide the learning environment and the inter-personal interactions. Improvements in technology have given us the Internet, allowing us access to a whole horde of information throughout the world, from science and technology to entertainment, to movies, and so much more. This wealth of knowledge may seem frightening, because such amounts of information would surely need regulation and supervision in order to prevent abuse.
That is why government agencies are given the task of screening out unwanted or undesirable information like pornography. Students using the Internet are given access to so much more information than they are usually accustomed to. But they do not learn how to screen the information and take out those segments that are useful and important. This is one skill that is not taught in the Internet but in classrooms by the teachers. In addition, students using the Internet do not get to interact much with people, except through electronic chatting.
However, this does not provide sufficient stimulus for students to develop inter-personal skills between friends and with elders. Such skills are essential to them when they are in society, starting to work and to interact more. These skills are better developed in the classroom, where there will be constant interaction with friends and teachers. Despite the wealth of information provided by the Internet, information can become outdated or erroneous. At our present rate of advancement in science and technology, the information and facts we learn during our years of study can become obsolete and irrelevant in five to ten years.
Therefore, it is not the knowledge of information and facts that is crucial to our learning; the knowledge of how to gain current information, distinguishing between the right and wrong, the accurate and the inaccurate, is as important. This skill of accessing information from various sources will keep us updated about current events and be able to evaluate and analyse them. Getting to know all the information in the Internet will not help in these areas. It is in the classroom, where teachers guide students towards what they learn and how they learn, that the real purpose of education is transmitted.
In education, besides skill, knowledge and development of relations, there must also be the inculcation of moral values and the evaluation of one’s abilities. Moral values vary slightly from one culture to another, but there are essential similarities like caring for the needy, providing for the poor, being humble and etc. These moral values cannot be taught on the Internet. There is no textbook on morals anywhere where one can just gain moral principles by reading it. Besides learning the basic moral principles, one must also practise them often in order for them to be embedded in one’s mind and behaviour.
In the classroom, where there are classmates and friends, one gets to practise moral behaviour often– helping fellow students, not being selfish, doing to others what one would want others to do to oneself, etc—and these cannot be practised or learnt in the computer and Internet. In education, one does not just become a sponge and absorb all the skills needed, the information required and the wanted facts. One has to squeeze out some of the knowledge and skills that one has learnt and be able to apply them. Examinations and tests are the most obvious forms of evaluating one’s abilities.
These are done in the classroom environment and not by staring into the computer screen. More importantly, one views the world around him differently and knows what is going on, how certain phenomena occur or how the society functions. If one does not gain knowledge or fails to apply the knowledge to everyday situations, then one has not learnt anything useful. However, despite the computer and Internet not being able to replace the classroom and teacher, its does not mean that they cannot be used. In fact, they are invaluable additions to the tools of learning and education.
Global information can be found on them – want to find out about the Antarctica? Who was America’s first president? The history of mankind? All this can be found in the Internet. The Internet also enhances the learning process. Facts unavailable in textbooks can simply be found using search engines in the Internet. The latest development in cancer research can also be found, for example. Students are therefore not confined to the classroom and can roam the world using the Internet without physically being there.
There are practically no limits to the potential of the Internet and students, by engaging in the Internet, get exposed to possibilities previously unknown to them. This widens their horizons. In conclusion, the computer and Internet are windows to places previously unexplored by students and are invaluable to the learning process of students. It provides information, entertainment and knowledge available globally, but the classroom is still the place where the students learn their basic skills needed in life, guided by their teachers, which the computer and Internet can never replace.