Since the introduction of the Internet, information access has certainly become quicker and more convenient. I can remember when my dad first signed up for American Online (AOL). It was so exciting to listen to the phone modem dialing and then hear the static noise of the PC connecting to the server. This process, which now would seem like an eternity, could last several seconds up to several minutes, especially when you received a busy signal and had to try again. How frustrating! The Internet was, at that time, what we refer to now as the Read Web. Websites and their content were published by only a select few yet consumed by many. Over the last several years, we've witnessed a transformation. The Read Web has now become the Read/Write Web. Individuals can now become producers, as well as consumers, and those noisy, dial-up modems have pretty much disappeared. We now use cable networks, satellite dishes, wireless networks, and even our phones. Our frustration point now comes when the web browser doesn't load instantly.
So, going back to the Read/Write Web, now that individuals can be consumers and producers, more information is available for use by the masses. This can be extremely valuable to educators and students alike, especially when the information is available for free. Many websites and online programs/applications are now offering free, educational resources that consist of high-quality content. OpenCulture, MIT, YouTube (for educators), and iTunes U are just a few examples. I have to admit that iTunes U is my favorite. The materials available consist of open courses, lectures, audiobooks, videos, language lessons, etc. and are created and posted by universities, colleges, and other renowned institutions such as Yale, UC Berkeley, Edutopia, and the Library of Congress.
As a teacher, I am expected to be a life-long learner. I gladly live up to this expectation because furthering my knowledge for personal and professional purposes is important to me not only as an educator, but as an individual as well. The Read/Write Web can immediately connect me with the resources that I need to fulfill my love for learning and has given me a way to reduce the amount of time, money, and effort invested in my life-long learning endeavors.