The internet, developed by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the late 1960’s is integral to our daily lives. So much of our lives reside on and depends on the internet in some way or another. But technology 101 tells us that all technology has both positive and negative impacts. So, which are which? What are the positive aspects of the internet? Connectivity…automation. Those are two positive aspects I can quickly think of. But it has also been a disruptor. Think about the time that humans spend tethered to their smart devices. Other examples include anonymously corresponding to others online. Many would never say things to others in person that they sometimes feel embolden enough to say online. I know because I have been guilty of these things myself. When something is new and novel, we are much more apt to experiment or try something that is technically cool or shiny, without fully understanding it. As an avid technologist for over twenty years now, I am just now starting to notice more negative impacts of the internet. Originally, for me, it led me down a career path, leading me to work in web development for several years. I suppose this influenced my views. The internet is both good and bad.
We are at a critical point in history regarding labor and capitalism, and the change that the internet alone has helped bring about in these two sectors respectively. I see Amazon warehouses popping up all over the place. Why? Because you can’t beat buying something at home, and receiving it within days, sometimes hours. It truly is mind-blowing. Automation is changing the labor market. The next generation needs to fill this void or else companies will replace them with automation. It’s just a matter of time but work ethic and a desire to live the American quality of life could help slow down this transition. Yet we see the opposite. Less people are choosing to work and pay is going up. This isn’t sustainable. I have been working now for 32+ years and I can tell you; work still sucks to me to this day. Sucks may be a bad way of putting it, but I don’t live for work. I work to allow me the freedom to do the things and own the life I want to live. As my dad once told me, “That’s why they call it work, son”.
So back to the point of this article. Is the internet disruptive? Yes. It has disrupted numerous industries, political systems, freedom of privacy. The list goes on. But I still feel it has had so many more positive impacts on our world. To me, the internet is transcendent. How could something like the internet have been invented, then built upon on accident? The technology that comprises the internet, and the technologies that the internet have led to are immensely complex, intricate, and sophisticated. Things have and will continue to develop and change. Some of it will be ugly. Some of it will be unfair. At times, the change that the internet brings about may even be devastating, but it is not going anywhere. It will continue to replace systems, some in totality, and will continue to push us forward into the future. So, learn as much about what it is and how it works as you can.
My favorite adaptive learning platform was ALEKs. They did a really good job marketing the product on their website. I also like that they offer subscriptions and a free trial, so you can get started using it right away. I have also used McGraw Hill in my classroom and am familiar with their products and know they are effective.
Three claims listed by ALEKs are that their system enables the same learning opportunity to all their students, that their system adapts to each student, and that their system provides individual support to each student. They did provide good research on their website to help back up this claim. I also like their news releases page, which allows those interested to see how they are updating their features as time progresses.
My least favorite adaptive learning system was DreamBox. I did not feel they did as good of a job highlighting their system on their website. They make big claims, but do not have enough data to support their claims, even though their system may work well for learners. They do include information that shows the research and entities involved in their system. They also provide a free trial period which is actually longer than ALEKs (14 days as opposed to 7). Another plus is they have a demo, which you can look at, and although it is more of a presentation, it does give you a look at their interface.
Three claims that DreamBox make are that they help students build confidence, that their system adapts intelligently, and that their system provides insights to ensure success. Although I’m sure that if any of these systems are used consistently, they could certainly help students master content; however, I still think some of these claims qualify more as hype than a certainty. My experience as an educator leads me to believe that some students and parents are just not great fits for learning management systems.