Education and The Internet

After my last cybercultures class, I began to wonder, should knowledge should be open to all to both use and contribute to? Yes, and it’s this intuitive philosophy that forms the base of The Open Education Movement, which has been gaining momentum since 2006, the same year Dr. Dan Colman, launched Open Culture, the greatest free cultural and educational media website I have ever seen. Open Culture is the largest database of free cultural and educational media in existence.

“I’m trying to bring the best good ideas to the rest of the world. There currently exists too much of a gap between the university world and the general public.” -Dr. Dan Colman, editor of Open Culture.

There are two dimensions to Open Culture: Firstly, it acts as a portal, collecting external links so users are able to access materials directly from the distributor, whether the media be on a site, YouTube or iTunes. Secondly, it includes blog-style content with 2-3 posts a day of handpicked media bites. Open Culture features over 350 courses in its collection: links to ever popular TED Talks, over 400 high quality streams of classic movies and tens of thousands of hours of audio book material. In fact, 50% of Open Culture’s collection is audio content.

In the future, Colman would like to implement a social feature so that users can rate certain classes and share those ratings. Most importantly, he wants to add what he calls “the critical element” to Open Culture and the Open Education Movement. How can users get feedback as if they were in a classroom? How can they receive due credit? And perhaps, how can we measure learning in this new way?

Research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that teens use the Internet as an essential study aid outside the classroom and that the Internet increasingly has a place inside the classroom.

Here are some of the significant findings from a survey of 754 youths ages 12-17 conducted last November and December:

  • 94% of youth ages 12-17 who have Internet access say they use the Internet for school research and 78% say they believe the Internet helps them with schoolwork.
  • 71% of online teens say that they used the Internet as the major source for their most recent major school project or report.
  • 41% of online teens say they use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork.
  • 34% of online teens have downloaded an online study aid.
  • 18% of online teens say they know of someone who has used the Internet to cheat on a paper or test.
  • 58% of online teens report using Web sites that had been set up specifically for their school or for a particular class.
  • 17% of online teens have created a Web page for a school project.

This research highlights just how important the internet is in education.

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