21st Century Learning in a Globally Connected “Classroom”

Computer technology and the internet is just the latest tool for education and learning.  The printing press and cheap, mass produced paper spread learning to the masses.  The accessibility of the Bible spurred the need to be literate to read, which in turn began disbursing the Church’s power and let more people begin thinking critically about their faith.   For today’s student (and their parents), our connectivity and the proliferation of information has similar subsequent effects–where students and families are quickly having to become internet literate.

Parents are often worried about the content their children are posting and the vulnerability their content may create.    The internet both creates a connectivity AND anonymity, as we’re not seeing or hearing immediate responses when we post new content, yet we know what we posted is now out for public consumption.  We’re having to learn a new discrimination to determine public and private.

Since anyone can and does post new content, with the click of a mouse and  keyboard more information than one knew existed on an issue can be displayed on the computer screen, courtesy of Google.  However, the democratic nature of the internet allows anyone with an internet connection to post their opinions and seem like its fact, which puts the responsibility for discerning the credibility of the information on the reader.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “We may each be entitled to our own set of opinions, but we are not entitled to our own set of facts.”  How  will the growing body of knowledge and the elaborate algorithms that sort information at the click of our mouse and depending on our “search words” and the programmers “key words” prevent or promote a general consensus on the facts?  And, what are we doing to teach the discrimination needed to sort through the mountain of information available?