Study materials online are ruining independent learning skills

October 7, 2016 — by Elaine Fan

In an age where the automatic response to any question is “just Google it,” the availability of information online is higher than ever. With the rise of websites such as Slader, AP Study Notes and even the new student-run SHS Advisor website, students can access comprehensive notes, worked problems and study guides at the click of a button.

This is extremely appealing for any student. Online Facebook groups can provide anything from homework help to test study guides, creating a collaborative environment for students to share materials. Students stressing before a test or a quiz can find extra study guides and notes to help them fully prepare, especially in a time crunch.

Despite its immediate advantages, the availability of online study materials may damage fundamental learning skills that are necessary in the long run.

For many students, the convenience of shared material sometimes takes away the need to pay close attention during class, since there is always a backup to fall on. They might never need to go through the deeper studying process that comes with making their own study guides, when they can rely on online resources to do so.

Furthermore, the availability of online notes has even affected attendance rates in some universities, since students no longer see the necessity in attending classes.

For example, some university students are avoiding class by buying lecture notes online. In doing this, students lose the ability to ask questions and interact with others during class. Students who take notes while listening to the lecture engage in a deeper learning experience than those who conveniently receive a page of notes with no context.

Students in English classes often turn to websites such as Sparknotes and Schmoop, which takes away the whole point of individual literary analysis. Why read the actual book when a  website can provide chapter summaries, themes, symbols, character descriptions, setting, tone and even useful quotes? Why write about your own ideas when pre-written essays are handed to you online?

Notes found online can lead to a slew of other issues, such as inaccuracy, cheating, plagiarism, copyright infringements and worse of all, extremely grumpy teachers who grow exasperated at the short cuts .

Students studying foreign languages frequently use translation tools online to complete their homework almost instantaneously, resulting in ignorance of the actual language as well as nonsensical translations from Google Translate.

Dependence of online resources may lead to the decline  of certain independent learning skills that are necessary in the future. When students start working at actual jobs, information will not simply be handed to them over the Internet. Students going into fields involving research and analysis will not have convenient, organized studies at their fingertips.

However, this does not mean that the use of online resources is always bad. It is only the abuse of these resources, whether intentional or not, that can lead to detrimental  side effects.

Though teenagers obviously aren’t going to give up the Internet anytime soon, it is important to take a step back and consider the possible long-term consequences of clicking on that handy Sparknotes link.