The internet is more than just a library of information. Students and teachers are using the internet to connect with other people to find new opportunities for meaningful and authentic learning.
When it was originally established, the internet was originally imagined to be a global library that anyone could visit to find information on any topic they were interested in. Students and teachers are now discovering that the internet can offer opportunities for deep, meaningful and authentic learning when it is used to connect people to each other than just connecting people to information.
The internet and digital technology allows people previously isolated by geography, socio-economic status or age to participate in the learning process. A student in outback NSW can watch lectures in physics from MIT, or communicate in real time with experts in their field of interest.
Here are some ways that people are learning from each other by connecting and sharing online.
Why just read about a skill or concept online when you can take a class in that very thing? Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are changing the ways we access quality online education. In a MOOC you participate along with hundreds or thousands of other students online. MOOCs are more than structured learning experiences where you engage with readings and video demonstrations and then complete assessment tasks to demonstrate your learning. In a MOOC, you are encouraged to rely on other MOOC participants to discuss the content, pose and debate questions raised in the readings, and offer and receive help from other learners where needed. Learning has become more of a conversation involving people from all over the world. MOOCs support independent, collaborative and lifelong earning, giving students of all ages opportunities to develop new skills and pursue interests with the support of other learners.
Many MOOCs are offered for free, including MOOCs offered by prestigious universities such as Harvard and Yale.
The more we can connect through learning, the richer the experience. Software that supports collaboration is helping us to do this and build learning communities. Collaboration is a 21st century skill that is an important part of work both now and into the future.
Schools are making learning more collaborative in these ways:
- Students are communicating and collaborating using web-based tools like G Suite for Education apps and Microsoft Office365 apps, at any time and in any place.
- Teachers are organising and sharing classroom content with tools like Google Classroom and Microsoft Class OneNote to create digital learning hubs.
- Parents are sharing and celebrating their child's work using class-home communication tools like Seesaw.
- Aurora College is an online selective school for rural and remote students throughout NSW, in which students communicate and collaborate using a variety of digital platforms.
Consider visiting the NSW Department of Education's digital learning selector to learn more about the range of education apps and software that are available for teachers and students in NSW public schools.
Curating refers to how we select, organise and present information. This skill is essential to how young people are learning to navigate the digital world. While many of us have unlimited access to information these days, it is how we use this information that is important.
Parents and teachers can guide children and young people to become better information curators by helping them to:
- understand the types of things they’re seeing online
- scan information to look for keywords that are relevant
- consider how current and reliable the content they’ve found is
- make sense of things like comments, reviews and feedback
- use and share information in the right way, showing respect to the creator.
Curriculum and syllabus links
NSW Syllabus outcomes
Australian Curriculum content descriptions
- 'MOOC.org', MOOC.org, accessed 24 January 2022
- 'Online and on-campus courses', Harvard University, accessed 24 January 2022
- 'Open Yale Courses', Yale University, accessed 24 January 2022
- 'Digital learning selector', NSW Department of Education, accessed 29 July 2022