When I was doing my BEd we had a discussion one day about a journal reading in which the author envisioned everyone having access to information though electronic devices. Sound familiar?
I began my education degree in 2003. You have to remember that we didn’t use the internet the same way then as we do now. Google wasn’t even a noun, let alone a verb. The idea that anyone could access information, anywhere, and control their own education was novel.
My opinion at the time was without someone to facilitate education (i.e. a teacher) it wasn’t really education, it was just information. And who was to say all that information was correct? At worst, it could be dangerous.
Certainly during the pandemic we’ve seen information corrupted, weaponised, and made up. This isn’t new, but I would say it’s far more wide reaching. At the same time, education is increasingly tied to devices and the world wide web. And with good reason.
My WiFi is down today. My power is off. I’m typing this on my phone. I feel like I’m missing a limb, such is my reliance on my good friend Google. What’s more, all my documents are in the cloud. Which is a bugger. Definitely a first world problem but it doesn’t make me less stuck.
And it adds another factor to the question of how the internet democratises education, or not. For people without access to reliable internet, or the devices to access it, education becomes less available, not more. In Australia this affects low income households, regional, rural and remote communities, and older people who are less comfortable with technology (mind you my grandmother was a regular on Facebook well into her 90s).
With all this in mind I don’t know that my take on education and the internet has changed much in almost 20 years (I don’t feel that old!). The ideal of people being able to control their own education is wonderful, but it’s still a little way off.