How the Internet is Empowering a Generation of Students

There was recently an article published in the Globe and Mail about how students are using the internet to supplement their own learning, both personally and professionally.

Here’s a small, fun little fact for you: it’s 2016 and suddenly, the learning doesn’t stop at school. Why do I know this?

Sometimes (but very rarely), when I come home from classes and I realize my lecture notes aren’t as good as I thought, I suddenly have a wide range of websites with experts to enlighten me on whichever topic I was just learning in class. Now the students can become the teachers.

I was sitting in my Women and Gender Studies classroom when my professor explained the concept of the Bechdel Test, which asks how well a film achieves the use of female protagonists and whether or not they ever discuss anything other than men within the film’s plotline. I remember leaving thinking it was an interesting subject, but wasn’t sure if I would run into again.

Before my next class that day, I spent a few minutes on Facebook and came across an article talking about the exact same thing. It mentioned the Bechdel Test, the history behind it and its significance. I immediately sent it over to my professor, and she was pleased that I took a look at her lecture material outside of the classroom.

This has happened before — although perhaps not as quickly as in this particular situation – and the feeling is great, because oftentimes I’ve been confused about class subjects and have come across YouTube videos or funny articles that have explained the concepts — concepts  I was once so puzzled by — in simpler terms than the methods my professors used..

Sometimes, it’s the other way round though. My first year World History professor used to give us 50 page articles to read throughout the week, and I couldn’t find the topics they discussed online. I’d go to class the next week and listen to the prof go on and on about what I had missed.

Oftentimes though, the Internet is a useful tool and isn’t just around for our enjoyment or for leisure time. I use it heavily for social media, but am never afraid to open it up and check out educational videos. There’s a whole market for these things now! John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, is famous for his over- the-top, comical videos in which he discusses history and literature. Sparknotes doesn’t only talk about the summary of books, but they’ve started to put those shortened summaries into humorous videos.

Before I attend art galleries around the city, I make a stop at the gallery’s website to check out the collections they hold. When I find something I like, I do a little research on the artist that I’ve heard of, but know so little about. With the quality of online images these days, you almost don’t need to stop by the actual gallery, but we all do because when it comes to art, there’s nothing more exhilarating than seeing the real thing.

Parents of younger children are finding it hard to deal with this concept. Growing up, encyclopaedias and dictionaries were on hand at all times, and now they’re nowhere to be found. Unless you check online, of course.

It’s easy for kids to be caught up in all the fluff the internet has to offer, but it can be put to good use too. Educational apps that provide games are a good start for your children, because it doesn’t hurt to use something fun for some engaging tutorials.  

Being online 24/7 doesn’t have to be a waste of time. If they know where to look and how to refine their Google skills, it could just be the best thing younger generations need.
As younger generations continue to take to the internet to keep learning about their world, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that finances don’t become an obstacle to their learning.