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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

Learning online doesn’t always cut it

Picture: Kathrin Biegner

E-learning: great for some things, but it has its limits

Recently, Emmy wrote about the effects of and potential for e-learning in Kenya. In Germany, the Internet has changed the way educational content can be accessed and how it is taught at schools.

For instance, I use a lot of websites to look up words or study vocabulary. Each week in Spanish class at my university, another person uploaded the most recent vocabulary to the website Vokker. All of my classmates could then access them and study at home.

Generally, I can’t imagine what my studies would have been like without the Internet. I bought a laptop pretty quickly after entering university. During lectures I then took my notes directly on my computer. Most of our professors uploaded their power point presentations after their lectures to our student e-platform where we could download them. That made life so much easier for me – especially when I had missed a class or wanted to study for exams.

Using modern media isn’t a matter of age – as one of my professors proved: He is professor emeritus but was the one who made sure that his lectures were being recorded by students. Afterwards we could easily download them as MP3s from our e-platform after having logged into our accounts. Before my final exams, I listened to a whole lecture – while jogging! I loved not having to learn while sitting around but still being able to do something for university anyway.

Of course, there are also disadvantages. Sometimes I didn’t take notes during lectures because my professors read exactly what they had written on their power point slides. That made many lectures boring. So, I think it’s important that professors are taught how to use new media in the best way.

Picture: Kathrin Biegner

I can't imagine having studied without the Internet

Then there were those days when I didn’t want to go to class or had other appointments. I told myself that I could download everything later-on. But often I found it difficult to listen to a lecture 90 minutes with full concentration and without any interruptions. There clearly is a difference between sitting with other students in a lecture hall, talking with them afterwards and having the possibility to ask professors questions.

Still, I love those new possibilities and think they make education easier and available to more people. I could even watch lectures from Yale on the Internet! But having since worked with high school students, I realize that you need some basic knowledge to understand and classify what you can access online. As such, I don’t think the Internet can replace a good educational system, but only supplement it.


May 31, 2012 | 6:00 pm