Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled?

Knowledge@Wharton argues that the objective of education is learning, not teaching. Keeping that in mind, it makes me wonder, does it really matter how students are learning as long as they are indeed learning? The article also poses the question, why should students be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can? In some ways, I can agree with this. On the other hand, if this was followed then people would solely and heavily rely on technology more than they already do. Teaching can be a powerful tool for learning. When you teach or explain something you must gather enough information to understand the topic. You will also find your own worldview on the topic that fits into their personal frame of reference for understanding the world around them. So, if students are able to google to help find information there needs to be followed up with teaching and passing that learning on in a productive way.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? makes some good point on how people’s concentration tends to drift when reading. People are reliant on the quickness of the web. With a quick google search, you can easily find the information or answer you need without spending all the time looking it up at the library in a book. The net is becoming a universal medium. With this, the capacity for concentration and contemplation is dwindling. The article references the “power browse”. With the ubiquity of text on the internet and the popularity of text messages society is reading more than they did in the 80’s. We are now just changing the way we read. With an emphasis on efficiency and immediacy, we simply are decoding the information. Google seeks to develop the perfect search engine which it defines as something that, “understands exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want. In googles view, information is a kind of commodity, a utilitarian resource that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency. The more pieces of information we can “access” and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers”.

A positive side of technology is it can help develop student’s critical thinking skills. According to Jessica Mansbach, cognitive skills at the foundation of critical thinking are analysis, interpretation, evaluation, explanation, inference, and self-regulation. When students think critically they actively engage in communication, analysis, synthesis, problem-solving, evaluation and reflection. Some ways to use online tools to teach critical thinking skills include; reflection activities which provide students with the opportunities to track their learning and demonstrate progress. Using a google doc is an easy way for students to share their reflections and teachers to comment. Peer review activities enable students to demonstrate communication skills by giving feedback on each other’s work, expose students to alternative perspectives, and allow students to question what they are reading. Discussion forums also allow students to communicate with their peers. Small group activities help student’s problem solve, hear different perspectives and collaborate, and digital storytelling activities allow students to evaluate, reflect on, or analyze course content.

Critical thinking is an evaluable skill that students need to be successful in their professional and personal lives. Teachers can be thoughtful and purposeful about creating learning objectives that promote lower and higher level critical thinking skills and about using technology to implement activities that support these learning objectives.

-Jessica Mansbach (2015)

In RCSD we teach students how to be digital citizens. There are modules that teach students how to be safe online, what not to share, how to comment, etc. On top of that, a more in-depth teaching is required if students are wanting to use technology for academics. Leslie Harris O’Hanlon provides some good tips for teaching students better online research skills. Although technology can be a wonderful resource especially in the classroom there is a need for teaching students how to use the information properly. Some take all information as fact when it might just be someone personal opinion. The curriculum should include some technology related outcomes. Students need to evaluate the credibility of a website, how to use precise keywords and how to better use search engines and databases. Students today don’t have the digital literacy skills to wade through the information. Therefore, digital literacy should be incorporated into the school curriculum. Students can learn how to search smart and knowing keywords, how to choose search engines such as Google Scholar, and how to evaluate websites. Students can ask themselves questions such as who wrote this and what is the perspective of the person who wrote this? They would need to know what a commercial or advertisement looks like online and know that websites can be biased. To help decide whether sites are creditable students can look if there are dead links, do images support the stated facts, are there links and references to other websites, and are there resources and experts that corroborate the information?

So, where do I stand on the question; Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled? I disagree. I think that digital literacy is important, and rather than trying to teach things that can’t be googled we could be teaching students how to use technology effectively and help prepare them for this technology-filled world.

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