Using the Internet as a Means of Education
The internet is HUGE
So take absolute full advantage of it man!
There are still a few technophobic people out there who usher their kids away from their laptops and point to the roads outside. "True education is learning how the outside world works, and how to survive in it. A computer can't give you that."
Alright, okay, they've got a point. I mean, you can't learn how to swim just by searching different types of strokes on Google, and plane simulators aren't gonna be valid enough experience to get you flying a real plane. But it's a bloody good start isn't it?
There are people out there today, and you might be one of them, who would love to explore the world. But you don't have the time and you don't have the money. You've never been on a plane before, you don't have the guts to travel abroad.
There are people out there today who can't afford an education at the top universities.
There are people out there today who have a question pressing on their mind that can't be solved by asking their neighbour.
There are people out there today who can't figure out the right stitch for this knitting project they've had going on for months, and they're friend (who lives a two hour drive away) has the book with the answer.
There are people out there today who need the internet to solve their problems!
So use it!
Wikipedia isn't all that bad!
Even teachers are sceptical
I found when I was at college that teachers and tutors were constantly steering me away from Wikipedia. But it's actually pretty darn useful.
They give a nice overview with a pretty, relevant picture and a decent table of contents to help you get around your subject.
I'm not suggest that you should use that information right there and then and transcribe it straight onto your essay, but if you scroll down...
You'll find the references sections.
Now that place is full of tasty information. And in most cases you can bet on it being reliable. This is the place to be young padawan!
Using university sites
If you dig deep enough into university websites, it's actually possible to get a look into their syllabus.
When you're there, you may find that they've listed some texts that must be read by students before they start the course. There may also be a list of texts that may prove useful to students during the course or in preparation for the course. You may even find links to resources on the web.
This is the beginning of masses of information! All you have to do now is search for the books mentioned and start reading. You're essentially getting yourself all the knowledge needed for a degree without having to pay for it. AND you get to decide which topics you want to look into.
I've done this a good few times and discovered some pretty good stuff!
Which web browser to you use?
Search engines are extensive
So when you're looking for something, you're going to need specifics.
You're also going to need a reasonable amount of patience.
And you'll probably end up opening up more than a few tabs.
It'll help if you dedicate a bookmark folder to whatever it is your researching, because when you come back in a few days time there's no way you'll remember which sites you were on.
You also need to make sure that the websites you're looking at are valid. Check the references, see the name of the author of the article. Do they know what they're talking about? Do they have a legitimate background?
I know for a fact that you haven't thought to do that already because if you had... You wouldn't be reading this article.
No don't stop reading! You're right, I don't have any valid credentials but I'm an internet nerd so just stick this out okay? It might be worth it.
Internet nerds are always worth exploiting. Remember that.
Great research tips. Don't get lost on the internet
This place has nothing but absolutely, definitely, verifiable, legitimate content. Like the lady above mentioned, you're still going to get opinion based writing, but this will be opinion based on a ton of facts which will be presented effectively and in a digestible way... If you've got the patience to stick with some post-grad essay.
They can be pretty dense if you're only trying to find out an overview of your subject. But that's why you use Wiki first!
Another great place to find information is Google Books. Most of the books on there give you the entire thing. I've found that massively helpful when doing research on specific philosophers and their writings for my college courses and for my hubs. Not only this but if you find one to be particularly useful, you can buy the physical thing and do some good old fashioned reading and annotation. Yes, I write on books, and sometimes I don't use pencil, I hope you don't find that too disturbing,
The best place for books
archive.org gives you LOADS of stuff. And you can just read it write there and then. And it's pretty good quality too. That database has everything. (nearly)
It's not just books either. You'll find an awful lot more than that.
People say you can never find what you're looking for on search engines. They say you need to find specific databases and all that kind of nonsense.
I say that if you know what you're looking for, those people are speaking nonsense. And if you can't find what you're looking for, there's plenty of forums out there where you can ask people for the information you're looking for. Chances are there's someone out there willing to answer.
The ultimate internet forum, home to everything you could ever hope to find (and everything you hope not to) is Reddit of course. And don't worry, all you have to do is click on the relevant forum and you won't end up looking at any of that cute cat rubbish.
Always remember, that if you still can't find what you're looking for after hours of trawling the internet. There's still one alternative left. You are still allowed to try researching away from your computers.
Many libraries are really struggling with the expansion of the internet. They haven't been able to adapt to the change and they're getting less and less people through the doors. So try not to abandon your library completely just because it's easier to sit on the couch and do your research. Because there may come a time when the internet - god forbid - ceases to work, and with the libraries gone what are you going to do then?
The internet isn't a replacement, it's a supplement. It's like an added bonus. It's the ultimate convenience. It is to be used when traditional research methods don't suffice. It's the icing on the cake. Don't abandon the rest!