There seems to be an emphasis on online research in recent years, and much can be attributed to the advent of the internet. Many students have already gone online when they are in school and it’s not surprising to find that many of them are so IT-savvy that they outmatch their parents when it comes to information technology. While surfing the net and engaging in online activities are all well and good, things get tricky when it comes to doing research online.
While there are certainly several benefits to be reaped through online learning and research, there are drawbacks that educationists should be aware of. It has even been said that internet content is “individual incomplete and cohesively inconsistent“.
This post therefore seeks to examine the pros and cons of online learning, specifically in areas of research.
Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of online research:
- Breadth versus Depth: Internet content is usually strong in breadth. This means that the coverage is wide when it comes to various topics. Simply type in “fitness” or “presentation skills” and you will have retrieved tons of information on the specific subject. However, internet content lacks depth. This means that the content sourced from various sources on the net does not contain as much information as what you will find when you browse through text books in the library.
- Disorganised content: Most online content are retrieved haphazardly (Yes, the internet search engines are not as powerful as some people claimed to be). What is retrieved is thus a mishmash of data that the students will try their best to put together and collate what will then be regarded as information. But the question is: Is this complete? This reinforces the abovementioned perception that internet content is indeed “individually incomplete and cohesively inconsistent”.
- Credibility and Validity: The proliferation of the blogs has encouraged many writers to contribute their works to the world. While this is commendable, online readers should be prudent by reading and digesting the information with a pinch of salt, since credibility and validity are two issues here. Unlike encyclopedia which is compiled by reliable sources, all online users can be producers of content. In fact, it has been said that the media is losing the clout that they have years ago when they are the sole provider of information. However, when it comes to credibility and validity , the media may still run strong.
- Updated information: It has often been said that information on the internet is often updated. However, how true is this? Try counting the number of “inactive” blogs now drifting in cyberspace everyday and you can gauge the validity of online information. Some websites are also not updated and it’s worse when there’s no mention of this on the website itself.
- Quick links to related materials: The feature of hyperlinks may prove to be one of the greatest inventions not only in the academic circle but other professions as well. With a click, users and students are now able to access related information easily and quickly. This is something that one will take hours to accomplish in the library.
The abovementioned points are something that educationists should inform students about. The responsibility is on the students to produce the best piece of work from their research but I believe that the onus is on us as educationist to inform our students of the pros and cons of online learning. The students should be encouraged to complement their online research with research conducted in the library for a more holistic learning experience.