An important component of the learning process is the fun students have while learning. The Internet facilitates the development in students of a sense that learning is fun by providing them with access to resources that are attractive to kids as kids, not just to kids as students. Emphasis on the fun aspects of the Internet, the aspects that appeal to kids as kids, will help encourage kids as students to use it for their real scholarly work as much as will the wealth of scholarly resources they can find there.
Too often, a subtle, or even overt, distinction is made between schoolwork and fun, with teachers promising students that they can do fun activities as a reward for getting their work done. The implications of this distinction are, first of all, that schoolwork is inherently 'f\un-fun,' and, second of all, that fun activities are inherently non-educative. For a society whose goal is to foster in its students a life-long love of learning, this separation of learning and fun could be problematic. In addition, and more importantly, learning and fun don't have to be separated in this way. Experts in a variety of fields, such as the sciences, literature and others, devote their careers to understanding more about these fields because they are fascinated by them and love to study and learn about them; in learning real scholarly material, they are also rewarded with a sense that what they do is fun. Children and adults pursue hobbies and vocations, such as stamp collecting and photography, because they enjoy the activities, but these activities also provide opportunities for deliberate and incidental learning to occur; in pursuing hobbies that are fun, they also position themselves to learn something meaningful. In short, then, 'fun stuffÓ and 'educational stuffÓ can be one and the same thing. Of course, depending on the situation, there is sometimes more focus on either the fun or the educational aspect of an experience, but the fact remains that it is important for teachers and students to think about learning as being fun, and to think about fun activities as having the potential to be educative.
With the advent of the use of Internet activities as incorporated into regular classwork, the de facto distinction between learning and fun becomes less pronounced. Students who use the Internet may develop an increased sense of control over their own learning as they engage, 'hands-on,' with topics and questions that interest them. The opportunity to connect to the Internet from home has positive implications for this sense of control, both for students who come to traditional school settings during the day and for students who are home schooled by their parents. This is so because students can pursue their interests and questions when they wish to. Opportunities to connect to 'virtual' mentors and content area experts provide an increased sense of authenticity and relevance about learning particular information, which may increase a student's motivation to work hard at learning activities. Students' own ideas may find expression in a variety of formats. All of these benefits of student work with the Internet occur in the context of an environment that draws upon their critical thinking, organizing, and evaluation skills, which are skills they will need to be successful in many facets of life.
In the Kids' Corner big idea, the focus is on the idea that fun is an invaluable
component of learning. In other words, the focus is on fun! This big idea is
designed to be a starting point for students to explore the Internet in search of
fun things to do and see. While the activities for other big ideas are targeted
to teachers, the activities here are targeted to students directly, to help them
familiarize themselves with some of the more leisurely activities they might
pursue on the Internet. And if, as we believe, the Internet fosters fun in an
educative way, who knows what students might learn here?