The internet is no longer a new thing, and with the explosion in internet traffic and most recently, social networking media — the pace at which data about everything circulates amongst everyone is faster than ever before. The internet is a powerful medium for exchanging information, and as Carol MacKnight writes for EDUCAUSE, is a perfect tool for education and encouraging learning and critical thinking:
Online communication offers the potential for collaboration as well as increased participation in the learning process, reflection, peer tutoring, monitoring of student learning as it is taking place, and extension of the classroom learning.
Online forums, internet blogs (such as this), and social networking sites provide the venue for discussing ideas, debating arguments, and promoting advocacies. It does not come without a price though: the more information at the disposal of users, the more it demands from the users of that information. MacKnight is quick to point out (bold emphasis mine):
However, online communication puts emphasis on students’ comprehension and knowledge of the elements of an argument and thus on how to interact with ideas and each other in a meaningful way. We cannot assume that all students will come with sufficient critical thinking skills to advance an online discussion, nor can we assume that faculty have sufficient skills and practice in monitoring discussions or skills in creating productive communities of online learners. Both may need support and training.
Read the rest of MacKnight’s insightful article here.
Meantime, we join Carol MacKnight’s call in supporting and promoting critical thinking online as a tool for education.