Merging the internet with the classroom has not been a smooth ride. While some teachers applaud it, others find it a distraction. However, the world is becoming more digitalised every day and now plays a key part in how we socialise, self-educate, apply for jobs, and — in most industries — actually do our jobs!
Within this article, we look at how effective the internet is for teaching pupils and what the future has in store for Wi-Fi in the classroom.
The impact of the internet in schools
Although not every educator might like it, the internet is a large part of how society works, lives and interacts — so why should this influence stop when you step into a school? According to the British Educational Suppliers Association, 70% of schools are not Wi-Fi ready. However, many feel that implementing the internet in schools is vital to education and can make learning easier and more fun — providing that it is monitored.
The internet is a portal to a limitless land of facts and figures, which means it can be an excellent source of self-education, if allowed in a school. In 2016, the BBC reported that over 300 libraries were closed down since 2010 — if local councils are shutting libraries, where are students supposed to gather the information they need for school? The internet is instant and vast, so using it for research and learning is a natural step.
Of course, it’s not all about the students — teachers can benefit from the internet, too. Planning lessons is a large part of teaching and a source of much effort and even stress for teachers. However, educators could simply use online resources to research topics for a class, if the internet was available during worktime. What’s more, students can also use the internet to conduct their own research once these lessons have been planned and carried out. Search engines now have the ability to prioritise reliable websites that they think will most help the user. For example, the BBC Bitesize site features themes that are popular in the UK school curriculum. This website then leads on to different levels of learning to ensure that it caters to students of all ages and abilities. It also provides interactive educational games for students which helps with engagement and information retention.
Implementing Wi-Fi in educational establishments
If your school Wi-Fi connection could be improved, this can affect how positively you feel about having internet in schools! A quick and reliable connection means an exciting source of learning for students of all abilities, while a poor one can waste essential time.
Rather than having an internet room, Wi-Fi will allow pupils and teachers to move around the building without fear of losing connection and losing work. Also, good Wi-Fi will enable kids to research key information that they may need quickly. Consequently, this will save taking trips between the library and the classroom, and so allow teachers to monitor their students more closely during their lessons and reduce disruptions.
But can Wi-Fi be misused in schools? Rather than being a distraction, it seems likely that implementing Wi-Fi could boost communication and interactions across the school — whether this includes pupils in the same school or different schools around the country or world! However, this can only work if a good connection is installed. According to technical director of KBR, Gareth Tomlin:
“Education is rapidly moving towards mobile learning using iPads, Android Tablets and Google Chromebooks. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that students are so comfortable using these types of devices in their homes. However, these gadgets can only communicate with the school’s network over Wi-Fi as they have no wired network port.”
Wi-Fi in schools could also promote the learning of disadvantaged students. For example, if there is a student that has an illness or a disability, using Wi-Fi will give them the opportunity to continue to take part in lessons via conference calls. It could also allow schools to schedule calls with educational specialists from around the world to assist with certain subjects or helping particular pupils, thus creating strong connections with global individuals and institutions.
The internet: how it could change the classroom in the future
It seems that technology, in all aspects of our lives, is unstoppable — so how will it transform our classrooms further down the line? With technology gadgets becoming more affordable, we will see more students with personal devices at school, as well as more hi-tech, school-property gadgets for pupils to use. It’s likely that we will also see a higher use of ‘the cloud’. This will not only enable teachers to store different types of materials for their lessons, but also create a collection of work from their pupils.
We’ve gone over the advantages of the internet in schools, but what about the potential drawbacks? Protecting students is essential when they go online, so educators must plan and execute strict policies to ensure all pupils are safe when browsing online. A part of this is to allow each student their own account on a built-in school system. This will allow teachers and students to set and complete homework tasks online, which will mean fewer paper-based homework assignments.
Clearly, many pupils will benefit from better access to the internet and faster Wi-Fi connections when they’re learning and developing their skills at school. Implement a good internet policy in your workplace and you could be allowing kids access to a wider pool of knowledge to get them ahead in the professional world!