This week in the Great EdTech Debate we had Sydney (for) debating Aurora (against) debating whether or not schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled in classes. Right off the bat, Aurora had the lead against Sydney.
Sydney had us read two articles that helped build her case about why teachers should focus on teaching students things that can be googled. The first article “Why Learn Facts if You Can Google?” starts by questioning how education works, and whether the traditional way of teaching is really the best approach for teaching. The second article I read really helped me understand the perspective Sydney was debating for. This article highlights the facts that society is changing, yet curriculum has not. Knowing the multiplication table from memorization is not longer as important of being able to collaborate with coworkers. It also discusses how “self-organized learning environments” are beneficial to students, it allows students to collaborate with others, move around freely from group to group, and research ideas that interest them. This article even discusses how traditional testing is not as beneficial for students as many people previously believed, and that for evaluation students should be allowed to use the internet and collaborate with others.
Aurora shared three articles with us that believe teachers should focus on teaching things that can be googled. The first article is “How Google Impacts the Way Students Think”, which discusses multiple reasons why google is not the solution to teaching. The first point was that google doesn’t always give the best answer….. or even a correct one. Then he discusses that even if a student finds an answer which is appropriate, it doesn’t pose any questions. Googling an answer just gives the reader what they are looking for, but doesn’t encourage any deeper understanding. One quote from the article that resonated with me was that “premature Googlers often find what they want rather than what they might need.” (Terry Heick) This quote suggests that being able to just google an answer does not help students further research an idea because they have what they think they need. Next we watched a Ted Talk by Andreas Ekström which I highly recommend. He discusses the difference between googling facts and googling information. That searching a basic question such as whats the capital of France? will give you a straight forward answer. However googling information the conflict in Iraq will not just give you one answer about what caused it, there are countless different perspectives the Google will give you. Then Andreas brings up the topic of how people think google (or any search engine) as an unbiased source of information. He proceeds to give an example of this with Michele Obama and a Swedish terrorists. The main idea of his talk was how these major search engines have the power to decide what information we see, and what gets removed.
In our post class survey we can see that Sydney gained some ground on Aurora, however Aurora still won over the hearts of the people in my class.
Where do I stand on this topic? I think google is a fantastic vehicle for information and a great resource that students should use for researching topics. However I feel that by focusing on topics that can be googled may be more detrimental for student collaboration than beneficial. When I was younger before we could ask our teacher a question we had to ask at least three peers the question, and work together to try and find a solution together. Now if students go and immediately google the answer there is no opportunity for group collaboration or critical thinking. Although this depends on what type of question is being googled. Whether it is an open ended question (knowledge) or closed ended question (facts). So I feel that I stand in the middle of the road. I think teachers should let students use google, but within reason.