|Video Conferencing - The Internet as a Communications Tool||Jerry Garfunkel|
The computer is like a "swiss army" educational tool. It is more of a facilitator of problem solving than it is the solution to any specific problem. The internet, (broadband in particular) is one of the handy tools built into our "swiss army" educational tool. It is arguably the most useful and versatile of all of the tools packed into our digital arsenal. There are a number of reasons I believe, why the internet plays (or can/should play) such an important role in the classroom. In no particular order, there is the immediacy of information. The timliness of the information is often up-to-the-minute (up-to-the-second?) and the response time, from inquirery to desired-knowledge is measured in seconds, not minutes, hours or days. Next is the vast array of resource material that is accessable from the internet. I don't know of a library that boasts of such a robust on-shelf inventory of materials as is available digitally on the internet. Then there is the delivery system. Often the searching for information is but a step to solving a bigger problem. There are times when information is provided and can be fleeting - we can throw it away after using it. There are other times when we may want to "keep a copy handy" for later referencing. The internet accomadates both. The discarding of information after it has been used, is possible only because of the ease to access the information in the first place. When one knows that one will likely return to an online reference for later evaluation, one often downloads a copy of that material to one's local computer. But with the ease of knowledge access, retrieving information from one's local computer often is no easier (and at times more difficult) than retrieving information from the internet. This same achitectural design of accessing information, is employed in some computer hardware "client-server" systems. "Thin" clients and "fat" clients are variations of a system configuration where computer processing is done more locally (fat client) or more remotely from the server (thin client).
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