In the present era technology has taken over all walks of life. With the advent of globalization, the world has become a global village, closely-knit through the internet and social media. The cognitive process of learning in lay man’s terms can be understood as the process of acquiring knowledge or getting an insight into various realities of nature. The concept of learning has evolved over the years and has been subjected to the various worldly changes occurring in the civilization.
The ancient “Guru-Shishya” culture of attaining knowledge and enlightenment has been replaced by Google. Students around the world can learn about their smallest of queries to a course in aeronautics with the mere click of a button using various search engines. Apart from the influence of the internet, the latest addition of social media in society has also influenced learning to a great extent. The scenario is such that much of the learning regarding one’s attitudes and evaluation of oneself and others is more or less based on his or her interaction with others on the social media platforms.
Attitude is “a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor” (Eagly and Chaiken, 2007). It refers to opinions or beliefs one holds about a particular person, place, thing, or situation. Learning Disability is a disorder in which one or more of the basic psychological processes that are involved in understanding or in using language (spoken and written) may manifest itself in an impaired ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or perform mathematical calculations. In ICD-10, it is given as specific developmental disorder of scholastic skills (F81) and under F81 the specific spelling, reading, arithmetical disorder, mixed disorder of scholastic skills, etc are given.
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a student's learning experience by including computers and the Internet in the learning process. It takes place outside of the school or bringing what is outside of the school.
Retention is the process of preserving the material learned (Eysenk,1970). The material learned is retained in the form of memory traces by our mind. They persist in our minds for some time but decays if the time between learning and recall increases. Cognitive Offloading is the use of physical action to alter the information processing requirements of a task in order to reduce cognitive demand (Risko, 2016). The thoughts and beliefs in attitude formation and change is learned. In the world of technology, social media has a strong influence on the attitude of people. It changes their attitude about different things such as in one study by (Moreno, Kota, Schoohs & Whitehill, 2013) Facebook has influenced the business, promotions, positive experiences, fast communication, identity, fashion, curiosity about others, etc. There are negative as well as positive influence on learning. Adolescents have a negative self- image due to exposure to media (Spurr, Berry &Walker, 2013). However, the awareness of the importance of mental health campaigns is also done through media (Livingston, Cianfrone, Korf-Uzan & Coniglio, 2014). Social media is used as a tool to persuade consumers through conditioning principles to buy the latest products by pairing it with desirable actors or figures. Learning is an important developmental process that is important for effective functioning. However, due to various reasons, many children have difficulties in this process due to which they lag behind the normal population and are not able to use the available online learning platforms, effectively.
But research has found out that games can be used to motivate children with learning disabilities so that they can be aware of their weaknesses and strengths (Gooch, Vasalou, Benton, & Khaled, 2016). The virtual learning environment can be effective in understanding the difficult aspects like area, a parameter in mathematics for the children with learning disabilities (Satsangi & Bouck, 2015). This is an important discovery that can aid children in improving their learning experiences. Learning in the present day often occurs through virtual reality-based modes including educational gains and various online courses. This shift from the traditional modes of learning has its own pros and cons.
Virtual modes of learning have been known to facilitate language learning, language cognition, and improved syntax, grammar, phonological, and morphological knowledge base along with higher-order thinking abilities (Chen, 2016). It is seen that low
spatial ability learners are more positively affected by learning with desktop virtual reality (Lee & Wong, 2014). Retention and learning outcomes are also seen to be improved while using a virtual model of instruction (Merchant, Goetz, Keeney-Kennicutt & Davis, 2014). But it is seen that learning using virtual modes yields better outcomes and improve retention only in the short term (Rondon, Sassi & Andrade, 2013).
The availability of technological aids such as social media and other online application-based software has helped people to reduce one’s time and energy expenditure in it which many have termed it as cognitive offloading. “Practo” is one such example that is widely used by medical, mental health professionals to help set reminders. Risko (2006) is one of the well- known researchers in this field where he described some of the important processes within cognitive offloading such as external normalizations, and influence of the internet on transaction memory. Reaction time also improves with cognitive offloading according to a study by Alharthi, Lopez, and Stimatze (2016). Some studies put forth that information obtained from such sources is less erroneous, however, it blocks their creative thinking of deriving at novel solutions on their own. Individuals are also not critical of the information available from the external media which is another drawback (Pink, 2017). The learning of new information is effective through animations (Lajevardi, Nareng and Ayers, 2017). We are learning in the new age through various sources of social media which provides us with rich information but the flipside of it on memory cannot go unnoticed.
To understand the cognitive ability to learn in the era of social media and the internet.
1. To understand the Experience of children with learning disability in the virtual learning
2. To understand the consequences of cognitive offloading in the realm of learning.
3. To understand how retention and learning outcomes are affected in the virtual learning
4. To understand the influence of social media on attitude learning.
5. To evaluate the current status of learning in the context of the above-mentioned aims.
• To develop an understanding of the influence of virtual learning environment on
retention and acquiring new information.
• To describe the process of cognitive offloading in the era of social media and
• To estimate the benefits of a virtual learning environment In children with learning
• To analyze the influence of social media on change of attitudes.
• To identify the change in the patterns of learning in the advent of the digital age.
Analysis of the problem
The interactive engagements with the World Wide Web on a regular basis has important implications in our understanding of how our thoughts and beliefs are being shaped by it. Virtual learning environments play an important role in the formation of opinions on various issues, situations and with the increased availability of information on the internet, people are molding their attitudes that accordingly change their behavior, that they adopt for acquiring new information. The learning today is leading to better language cognition, improved syntax, and increased morphological knowledge base (Chen, 2016). Internet and social media application software have contributed to effective improvements in reading comprehension and mathematics for children with learning disabilities. An advantage of the virtual learning environment is that it is leading to reduced cognitive load and better accurate response consuming less time.
A conceptual approach using the method of review will be adopted for the purpose of the study, journal articles from various online databases such as PROQUEST, JSTOR, GOOGLE SCHOLAR and EBSCO within the time range of 2012-2017 will be reviewed based on the aims emerging from the brainstorming session.
The present review aims to understand the current status of the learning process in the context of the internet and social media. As learning is a multidisciplinary approach, it has its implications in various spheres of life. Learning is not just about academics but also involves learning of various life skills to get through life. Also, like any other phenomenon, even the processes of learning are influenced by societal changes and trends. In the 21st century the attitudes, thoughts about developing one’s own skills are influenced by the availability of the World Wide Web. With social media and the internet defining the current way of life, it becomes essentially important to understand the evolution of traditional learning with respect to the internet and social media.
The aim is to understand the positives and drawbacks of virtual learning. Hence, it becomes important to understand the advantages of virtual learning so that it could be implemented in educational, vocational, and clinical settings.
The concept of learning has evolved over the years and is no more constrained to only academia but serves as a basic process of survival and adaptability. In the digital era, learning using virtual based mediums is widely prevalent which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. At this hour it becomes essentially important to have a deeper understanding of learning with respect to the digital era so that it can be used effectively in various fields.