History and Learning of the Internaut – Cassidy Gagnon


Those were the first letters sent through the “Internet”, back in October 29, 1969. The first use of the ARPANET link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute. The word they tried to send was “LOGIN”, but the system crashed when trying to send the “G” (a literal “lo”w). Decades later, the Internet has developed into a monster of complex links to different servers and computers that is one of the greatest accomplishments in human history.

The original purpose of the Internet (which is not, as everyone says, cat pictures) was to communicate information between the different universities to share research and information that could not be easily sent through the phone or the postal system. It was a system that encouraged learning from others’ information, and using that information to create more information, and so on. But after computers started to condense from the size of an entire room into a device that could fit onto your desk, becoming much cheaper, and connections that were starting to be created all around the world, the common people were finally given access to a large amount of information and tools all in a short amount of time. But this information, as wonderful as it was, could not be communicated properly with the masses.

First, some of the information to articles and journals were (and still are) blocked, unless you pay a substantial fee to access that information. As well, this information was made for people in the field they were in, so people from other fields of work could not understand the information that was trying to be relayed since it would be filled with jargon and complicated information.

But it wasn’t until Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, who started the Academy in 2006 on YouTube for the purpose of free tutoring lessons to friends and family in subjects of chemistry and mathematics. As time progressed however, the number of followers has grown to around 2 million and the site has broadened its focus: topics now include history, healthcare, medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, cosmology, American civics, art history, economics, music, and computer science, with videos available in 63 different languages.

A lot of other educators who wanted to provide free education to everyone followed suit, and more websites and YouTube channels popped up. For instance, my favourite educational channel on YouTube is CrashCourse, which currently covers subjects in literature, chemistry, world history (my favourite), biology, ecology, big history (as in the history of our universe), psychology and US history. Current sessions are going through the subject of anatomy and physiology, astronomy and US government and politics, while forecasted ones are going to be in intellectual properties and economy. Basically, everything you wanted to learn about a multitude of subjects in a very friendly and open matter that also brings up real world issues in the lessons.

As free and easy-access education is becoming more available, with different teaching styles, languages and subject matter being used, the future of online education is a bright one.

Published by

Cassidy Gagnon

Special Projects Assistant for the Centre for Teaching Excellence for the Winter 2015 term. Currently a 3A B.Sc. psychology co-op undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo. Previous don at Waterloo Residences and current member of the UW Neuroscience Club. Loves to play a variety of musical instruments, reading, soccer and watching a lot of television in his spare time.

Leave a Reply