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Trading Classroom Authority for Online Community Research Paper

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Document Type:Research Paper


Should Teachers Allow Students Access to Internet in Classrooms

Why Kids in Classrooms Today Do Not Need Any More Wild West in Them: “Trading Classroom Authority for Online Community” is a Bad Idea

As Rorabaugh notes, the Internet has evolved from a once “primitive” place to a kind of digital Wild West. To maneuver one’s way through the digital world, one must be able to navigate platforms and forums, where civility is often lacking and where shocking surprises always await. Some see this as a danger and two hundred years ago they likely would have been the same ones warning others not to venture to the frontier or try to tackle the Wild West. Yet, as Perkins-Gough, Tough and Domhardt et al. all point out, children cannot succeed—academically or professionally—without developing grit, resilience, and determination. Rorabaugh’s argument is that bringing the Internet into the classroom and allowing students to engage in self-directed learning can help to build that grit, resilience and determination as it allows them room to spread their wings in a controlled environment (under their teacher’s eyes) and begin sifting and sorting through information online, using their own powers of deduction to determine where to go next on the journey for answers. Rorabaugh states that it encourages active participation rather than passive reception of information from a teacher. With the Internet, students are like sleuths in a digital Wild West, and giving them that opportunity is like giving them training in simulated combat: they are on the “front lines” of the information war and must put on their critical thinking caps if they want to come out “alive.” That is the point Rorabaugh makes repeatedly in his article on why the classroom could benefit from a bit more Internet. The problem with this is that while, yes, kids do need to develop grit and resilience as other researchers have noted, they also are very vulnerable to misinformation and still require a great deal of guidance. Even Dante the poet…

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…levels of education, such as college, online learning has grown in popularity because it allows learners to overcome space and time obstacles. Adult learners know that they need a degree if they want to be successful in the world—and so they are willing to be disciplined and to use the online learning environment as a way to reach that goal. Students in primary and secondary education are more likely to see Internet time in the classroom as free time—a way to escape from the teacher for an hour or two; a way to have fun and goof around. It is like digital recess.

Can the Internet be useful? Yes, it can—but kids need guides, and self-directed learning should not be something that a teacher can expect all students to engage in. Teachers should be very careful about how they introduce students to the digital Wild West that is the Internet. There is a lot that goes on there, and students may come away from it the worse…

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Works Cited

Domhardt, Matthias, et al. "Resilience in survivors of child sexual abuse: A systematic review of the literature." Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 16.4 (2015): 476-493.

Perkins-Gough, Deborah. "The significance of grit: A conversation with Angela Lee Duckworth." Educational Leadership 71.1 (2013): 14-20.

Rorabaugh, Pete. “Trading Classroom Authority for Online Community.” Hybrid Pedagogy, 5 Jan 2012.

Tough, Paul. How children succeed: Grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

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