Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does the internet make schools obsolete?

The internet makes many kinds of information available in an instant. As as result, memorising facts and figures seems to become more and more obsolete. The internet became an integral part of our distributed cognition.

The instant availability of digital information poses fundamental questions for education: What do we still need to learn in schools?

Raymond Nickerson (1996) offers the following answer:
"One might ask at this point: if information does indeed become much more accessible in the future than it is now, will learning still be necessary? If answers to questions can be obtained much more readily through new information resources, will it be so important to have knowledge in one's head? I believe the answer is unequivocally yes. I believe this is the several reasons, but it will suffice to mention one. The asking of questions, except of the most superficial kind, is a knowledge-based activity. Only someone who knows quite a bit about biology is going to ask what is new in the sequencing of bases in the DNA molecule. And even if one were able to ask the question, say because one got it from someone else already formed, without some knowledge of the subject one would not understand the answer. In general, the more one knows, the more useful a powerful information-finding resource is likely to be." (p. 258)

Nickerson, R. (1996). On the distribution of cognition: some reflections. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations (pp. 229-262). Cambridge University Press.  

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