Is Google Ruining Society?

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This week’s debate topic was very interesting: Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be Googled. I feel like Google is very important to my classroom, but when I think about the impacts Google could be having on people, it worries me a bit… if schools are focusing on answers we can immediately find on Google, are we helping students grow into well developed people?

I often worry if school is even a challenge anymore. Implementing initiatives like credit completion is allowing our students to become lazier, they often do not need to hand in homework on-time because they know we will mark it whenever, and the students who normally hand in homework have learned that they don’t have to either. I think a lot of this stems from disengaged students. When they do not see the relevance of an assignment, or when they are not interested they do not want to complete the task.

I wonder if a large part of this because school has become a game of fact finding? Are we constantly creating assignments that encourage students look to look for the “correct” answers instead of think deeper?

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This past week, my auto students were given a “history” lesson on carburetors. Most of the content they know, but sometimes my students had to think about what they were saying in the text to get an answer: reading between the lines or deeper thinking... as I tried to explain to them. They were struggling a lot with this, and I was perplexed. Why were they having such a hard time with this? Then it clicked. A lot of their assignments are too easy. The question will read: What colour are pigs? And the text will read: Pigs are the color pink. My students needed to work a little harder, and it was killing them. I told them that they needed to think about the why and explain what the problems were. I cannot lie… it crossed my mind: Is Google killing critical thinking?

In the article, Is Google Making Us Stupid? Carr explains that his “mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy….Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

I wonder if this is because we are so bombarded with media and information on a daily basis. Is this killing our ability to sit down and concentrate, think about issues and develop thoughts and ideas of our own. Does anyone wonder anymore?

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I find this with myself! My attention span is not what it used to be. I say I want to read, but then I don’t. I find it hard to pay attention to one single task, or to be present in the moment. It is strange to think that our daily habits such as surfing the net and Googling everything has made an impact on my life.

On the other side, I think about my specific teaching job. I do not have novels or text books. My classroom is mostly dependent on Google.  If I didn’t have the internet, I don’t think my assignments would be as interesting, engaging, and worst off, they wouldn’t be as relevant to my auto students. I love the fact that my classroom is relevant to students lives. I teach them real life skills; skills they need for their future.


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In the article, Challenges to learning and schooling in the digital networked world of the 21st century They describe a set of skills: “The new competencies are often referred to as ‘21st century skills’, a term more familiar in North America, or ‘21st century competencies’, a term more common in Europe… to address the knowledge skills and attitudes that are needed for living and working in the 21st century.”

I loved this idea. The idea that we are moving away from traditional education and making school relevant is very important for me. I think that almost every job will need some form of technology. Although some teachers may not like that we are moving away from the gate keepers of knowledge, we are also proving a service to our students. We are preparing them for the world they are growing up in. I love that we are teaching students skills that they will need in the future. I think that was always the intention of school, to give students information about their futures and help them achieve what they want to do.

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Although I loved school, I think traditional schooling is boring to a lot of students. In this article they also explain that “The emphasis has shifted from reproducing information and content to content creation and sharing in virtual environments, which some describe as a remixing culture (Lessig, 2008).” New skills like “Digital literacy should not be regarded as a separate set of skills but embedded within and across the other 21st century competencies and core subjects.” It does take a lot of effort on the behalf of a teacher to learn all of these new skills, and master them enough to teach them. But that is our job. During the debate I commented that teachers need to do what is best for students, not what is best for teachers and I think this is something all teachers need to think about. We are supposed to be life long learners and promote it… and as we know, modelling is a great form of teaching!

I also really liked when the article ‘The Objective of Education Is Learning, Not Teaching states that “Schools are upside down: Students should be teaching and faculty learning, The objective of education is learning, not teaching.” I think by allowing students to be in charge of their learning and moving to a more inquiry based education system is beneficial to everyone involved. The article went on to explain that “In most schools, memorization is mistaken for learning. Most of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, but then is quickly forgotten” I experienced this all the time in school. I would spend so much time memorizing for a test and walk out and not know a thing. As an adult, I only remember the times where I had to develop a project about something I cared about, and when I put effort into assignments I enjoyed, and I think this is the same for most people. As stated in the debates tonight, it should be more about the process than the answer, but I really feel like Google helps us get there.

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I think in the end, by implementing tools like Google into our classrooms we are not only preparing students for the future, but we are allowing them to “wonder” in their day and age. Google is a way of life. It is how they investigate what they want to know. I complained before about not wondering, but maybe Google is the new wonder. It is just a way shorter time of wonder. Instead of taking this away from students, we need to utilize it. Teach them how to use it properly because students can find information about anything at any moment. It is really about teaching them what to do with this information. How to analyze it, think about it critically and decipher what is good information.

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4 thoughts on “Is Google Ruining Society?

  1. Hi Amy, great post! As always, the topic of credit completion is brought to our attention in your post. I struggle with this concept as well because I often feel as though we are enabling students who choose to not attend or do not complete their work. However, on the flip side, I think it is important to reflect on why those students are not attending and why they are not completing their work. Many students have struggles and challenges in life to overcome outside of the walls of our schools, but are some choosing to skip because they are simply disengaged in the process of school? This is something I always ponder and wonder how we as educators can improve and shift the mindset of these students. For many, I do believe the answer is incorporation of technology 🙂

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  2. Excellent post Amy! I love how you really looked at both sides of the argument and landed in the middle. I found this week’s debate to be difficult. I ended up somewhere in the middle too. I think the most important thing is that students are learning and they are engaged because if they are not, it becomes like you said, just memorization and then completely forgetting those skills the moment they are no longer needed. I also loved your point about wondering and maybe google is the new wonder! I never though about it like that; and I think you could really be on to something. In my blog, I wrote about how students can’t think critically or think deeper than necessary and I see that’s something your students struggle with too. It can be very worry some, but maybe you are right. We need to incorporate wondering and thinking in a new way and that way involves Google!

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  3. I think one of the ways that we as teachers can eliminate the idea that Google makes things too easy, is to change the questions we are asking. If we are asking questions that students already know the answer to or can find in a matter of seconds, are we really helping them think critically? I think with the right questions, tools like Google can help create critical thinking skills because learners will have to piece together information in order to build a solid understanding.

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  4. I agree with what you said about Google being the new wonder! I think as teachers we need to learn how to help students move past those surface-level answer type questions and into using google to dig deeper into a topic. I do believe that Google is a great resource for students if it is implemented correctly by the teacher and the structure is set up. It for sure is a skill they need to learn how to use and simple google searches are not allowing students to dig into wonders. It’s really an interesting topic as it bumps up against most of our teaching pedagogies and challenges us to look outside what we may or may not be doing in our classrooms already. This is exactly why I love reading everyone’s take on these debates!

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