The internet: is it essential in schools?

If you’re in the teaching profession, you’ll know how much the internet has transformed the classroom and your job. The digital world plays a key part in how we socialise, self-educate, apply for jobs, and — in most industries — actually do our jobs!

But how does the internet truly affect the learning and socialisation of kids at schools? This article investigates whether the use of the internet and Wi-Fi is beneficial to pupils around the UK and how the education system has adapted to welcome digital platforms over the years.

Wi-Fi in UK learning establishments

Wi-Fi connection is a bugbear that many of us must contend with both at home and when we’re out. So, do we really want to have to mess around establishing a good connection when we’re meant to be learning and teaching? The speed and strength of a school Wi-Fi connection plays a large part in how beneficial it can be for pupils. If it’s decent, it can truly boost an educational institution and provide an exciting source of learning materials for students of all abilities. It will allow pupils and teachers to move around the building without fear of losing connection and losing work. Also, good Wi-Fi will allow 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.

Most kids now have their own smart phones and tablets, so of course, most of them will say that they think having Wi-Fi at school is an excellent idea? But are there more tangible reasons that suggest that Wi-Fi in schools is beneficial? According to Gareth Tomlin, technical director of KBR:

“Education is rapidly moving towards mobile learning using iPads, Android Tablets and Google Chromebooks. This is because there is a fantastic choice of educational applications and 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.”

While it might be great for educating pupils, many teachers are concerned that Wi-Fi in schools will be misused. However, 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.

Ensuring that your school has Wi-Fi could also boost the sharing of ideas and learning methods. 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.

Is implementing the internet in schools truly beneficial?

Almost every part of our day is influenced by the internet, whether this is logging into social media or buying products online. So, is it right to hinder its use at 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.

Planning lessons is a large part of teaching and a source of much effort and even stress for teachers. However, the internet is a great source that educators can use to research topics for a class. What’s more, students can also use the internet to conduct their own research once these lessons have been planned and carried out. A search of a simple phrase will bring up many results, but 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.

With many libraries closing across the UK every year, students are going to need a reliable source of information somehow. In 2016, the BBC reported that over 300 libraries were closed down since 2010. If local councils are cutting their budgets and shutting libraries, why would students travel out of their way to gather the information they need for school from books when they have the internet available at their fingertips with all of the information they need?

The future of schools and Wi-Fi

There’s no point trying to resist the tide of technology — it’s always evolving and we’ll always make a place for it in our lives. 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.

While there are many advantages to internet in schools, 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.

There aren’t many people in the world who don’t use the internet for something. But to have it in schools means allowing kids a wider pool of knowledge and getting them ahead in the professional world.