• J. W. Barlament

The Internet and Education

The Internet has opened Pandora’s Box in just about every subject there is. Entertainment, culture, politics, and many more areas of focus have been ripped wide open by the introduction of the web. And, while many may see this as a bad thing, it presents a wealth of opportunities for those willing to learn. No longer do the old barriers of education exist. Anyone can learn anything, so long as they can access the Internet and know how to determine fact from fiction. Few people do, however, and the opportunities the Internet holds within remain locked away.

Even those who do harbor a genuine love of learning are almost always sucked in by the dangerous delights the Internet has to offer. Mindlessness reigns supreme on many of the world’s most popular websites. YouTube’s most influential stars provide humor, excitement and little of anything else to their audiences. Twitter’s biggest accounts are almost exclusively traditional celebrities. It is all too easy to be caught in the jaws of entertainment, for entertainment is a beast that lurks in every corner of the net. There is no escaping it. There is no ignoring it. There is only cultivating enough self-discipline to resist its temptations.

It is impossible to steer clear of entertainment on the Internet, but its downsides may be mitigated if the right kind of entertainment is consumed. Everybody needs a break. Everybody needs something to whisk them away and give them an escape from the monotony of the ordinary. There is a wealth of content on the Internet, however, that is both entertaining and educational. This media, walking the tight rope between fun and utility, is the stepping stone to ridding oneself of the perception of the Internet as a solely entertaining thing. There are a plethora of quick videos and engaging articles on the Internet to keep consumers both entertained and informed.

This, of course, can make one go down a rabbit hole of information. You watch a video, want to learn more, look it up, and the next thing you know, you’ve lost an hour. But is that such a travesty? These investigations lead people to discover what it is they’re really interested in, and that can hardly be thought of as a negative. These simple introductions to topics of interest can also lead to more solely academic discoveries online. People who let themselves digest pop-intellectual content tend to delve deeper when they stumble across something interesting. From there, they can find a wealth of a new kind of education online; the strictly academic. And, even though this kind of content can often be uninteresting, those passionate about their subjects of choice will dive in nonetheless.

But how can one find the time to go down these rabbit holes of online knowledge? The answer lies in how one consumes any kind of content online. We all know how destructive it can be to sit in front of a computer all day and complete tasks that bring us no joy. Thus, when we conduct purely intellectual investigations online, we’d be wise to do so as just a secondary task. Listen to lectures and informative videos while you go about your daily chores. Listen to a podcast while you mow the lawn. Read an article before bed. All of these ideas and more can seamlessly integrate your daily life with your online investigations.

And then, for some, another question might arise; how can one consume mindless entertainment from time to time without it distracting them from learning? It is no crime to relax, and the Internet offers plenty of wonderful content to relax us. The key to not letting harmless entertainment become overbearing is to infuse it with the academic side of life. There’s nothing wrong with watching funny videos or scrolling through memes on your social media. If you subscribe to academic channels on YouTube, though, their videos will present themselves to you, and even if you relax too long, you can make it a productive relaxation. The same idea applies to social media. You need not solely use social media as an entertainer. Follow accounts whose posts interest, educate, and challenge you. That way, even if you fall into a spell of mindless browsing, you’ll still enrich yourself along the way.

There is no end to the methods you can use to wield the Internet as a vital tool. There is no limit to the things you can learn. You only need the will within to seize what information is out there, and even that can be made as easy as a click or a tap.

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