Jun 29, 2010

“Google Generation” doesn’t know how to Google – DUH!

(The following article is one in a series that I wrote for a distance learning-related blog I used to run. For posterity's sake, I am reposting it -and others- here)

I received this article as part of my subscription to GLEF (George Lucas Education Foundation, yes THAT George Lucas):


This was a British study (meaning we can just about write it off anyway) done with school-aged kids (the OLDEST of which were High School freshmen, for crying out loud). And, the study found that the kids were very tech savvy, but couldn't "Google" their way out of a paper sack. That is, the students did not have any kind of advanced (or even Novice, in some cases) skills when it came to searching for information, discerning the information, and applying the information.

What cracked me up the most was the fact that in the opening paragraphs of the study itself, the authors cite Wikipedia as the primary source of their "Google Generation" information. That says more about the authors than it does the students they surveyed!

They also found that their respondents tended to be 'lazy' in checking sources, validating information, etc. Excuse me, but didn't they say the OLDEST respondents were Freshmen? I know I have been out of High School for a while, but, um, I seem to recall quite a bit of laziness in my general direction around that age. Of course they will come off as being LAZY, they don't WANT to do the work – THEY ARE KIDS, duh! Parents, teachers, administrators have to MAKE them work – it's kind of our JOB, is it not?

I think it's funny that there seems to be some preconceived (and very ILL-conceived) notion that kids who know MySpace and FaceBook and know "of" Google are somehow magically supposed to be able to understand HOW to search effectively. Sorry, but isn't that something we had to learn when we went to the library and were taught (holy cow, did I just say the "T" word?) HOW to search using the card catalog? Isn't the fact-checking part of research what we were taught (oh, that danged "T" word again) as part of our course requirements for doing research papers? No one (well, maybe SOMEone out there in the world) is born with an innate ability to perform sophisticated searches and analyze documents for authenticity and validity. Heck, I was still learning many of those skills well into my undergraduate college years, still honing them in my Master's years…

Then again, maybe I was just slow…

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