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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Does Technology Enhance or Harm?

I have used technology since I was in elementary school and I have owned a cell phone since I was 16. So on one hand I feel like I understand why students use their phone so much. But I have been teaching for seven years, and I really do understand the pain technology can cause in the classroom.

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For the majority of my teaching career I would fight students about their use of technology. I would constantly tell them to get on task, off their phones, off Facebook. Almost every semester I debated taking cell phones away all together. In the article Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away. They explain that “research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting — it’s so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture.”


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I know this is true because I see my students do it everyday, mostly with Snapchat, but it still happening. Furthermore, I know it is true because I am guilty of this! The article states that students learn more when they write information out. We have been hearing this for years. I often make my students write out important definitions because I think the retain the information more. They do not like writing, but we spend so much time on the computer that it changes our lessons up a bit, and I think they benefit.

The article Research: College Students More Distracted Than Ever  claims” in 2013 30 percent of students self-reported that they used a digital device more than 10 times for non-learning reasons during class-time, in 2015 the count rose to 34 percent.” Students are constantly using devices for texting, social networking, or gaming. When students receive poor grades or they don’t hand in work the students in my classroom say the same things as in the study: they “don’t pay attention” and 80.5 percent listed “miss instruction.” They know what they are doing will negatively impact their learning, but do it anyway.

When I moved to Campus Regina Public, my position on technology really changed. We are core classes (ELA, Math, Social etc.) combined with electives (Auto, Welding) so we no longer had text books. We 100% had to rely on technology, and as you know there is not an abundance of technology in any high school right now. Incorporating cell phones and computers into my daily lessons was mandatory in order to get anything done.

Our first debate, Does technology in the classroom enhance learning, is a debate I have been having with myself and colleagues for years. While expressing my frustrations with technology with other staff members I was always met  with one of two sides:

  1. They totally agreed with me and often told me the method they used to reduce technology misuse in their classrooms
  2. They explained: students need to understand time and place with cell phones. They need to be taught when to use them and how to use them properly, and if they still misuse technology, then that’s not your fault and maybe they need to learn that lesson.

And I chose the second approach!

My class is partnered with Capital Auto Mall, and at work, the employers have a zero tolerance for cell phones. It is a safety issue as well as an employability issue. So I am lucky that we get to back up our thoughts about technology misuse with our corporate partners. In the shop, students are not allowed to be on their cell phones, and when they come to ELA they are taught time and place. We constantly ask them, should you be on that website or app right now? Are you being employable? How much money would you have wasted your boss? And for most students it actually works.

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When we were speaking in class yesterday, I was going to chime in about how CRP does receive backlash from students about our cell phone policies in the shop. Some students really buy into the idea, and understand the employability aspect, but some students have a hard time with it. I find that students are defensive over their technology. They think it is a right to use it when they want. When the students hear our rules, they are defiant at first, express that they have a right to have it or use it, or that their parents are calling them and they must have it out. It does take time, but eventually most do understand that we are trying to teach them proper use of their devices.

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I was surprised to find that many of the reasons why I felt like technology was detrimental to learning were the thoughts expressed in our debate. As Amy, Wendy and Kyla explained there are many disadvantages to technology in the classroom. One of the largest reasons was cost. Not every classroom has access to technology and this is frustrating to teachers and students. When we do have access to the technology, it does not work properly or the sites do not work. They explain that technology is just a tool and that in a way it is killing creativity and they do not prepare students for jobs without technology.

I think it is important to note that although I see their side about technology being a distraction in school,  I also see the value in teaching the students time and place. I think that this is the most important lesson we can teach students right now. I really believe that this is not a lesson they just learn as they grow older. They need to practice this behavior so it does not effect their futures.

I also liked that they talked about how the teachers role is important, that technology can be a distraction and that it is up to the teacher to implement the lesson in a way that engages students. I love teaching lessons that I am involved in, that the students are participating in and we have great discussions… but I think this can be done in conjunction with technology.

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In the article Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning they explain how it needs to be “the right blend of teachers and technology.” It needs to be a team effort. Students need a teacher to explain the lesson, the importance of the lesson and model for them.  This is the teacher’s role. Then teachers should use the technology to further that lesson and demonstrate that lesson so students are prepared for real life. As the debate went on I realized that I was much more on the agree side of technology enhancing learning then the disagree side.

Katie, Jana and Kirsten explain that the most important part of using technology in the classroom was making sure teachers use technology effectively. We need to prepare students for the future. It ensures our students are up to date with information, can access information anywhere and also helps teachers get to students who need one on one attention. I agreed wholeheartedly about this. The fact that our students are training with programs that will help them later in life is very important. It is also imperative that my students get immediate feedback on their writing. I use Google Docs and make edits right on their page. I have never had more success with editing and rough drafts. The students get it back quickly enough that they haven’t forgotten in and their writing tends to improve. I really liked how they used the SAMR model. I like this because at first I was just using Google Docs as a substitute. But as I researched it, I found that I could comment, it auto saved for students and that they could access their work anywhere. Learning how to use the technology properly was essential to enhancing my students learning.

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In the article Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning they also explain that “technology – when implemented properly -can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.” I think this has been proven in my class. Having the students constantly improve their writing in real time has improved their writing skills. Many of my students have never written a full essay, but with guidance and editing they get there.

I think that I have finally found that perfect balance of using technology in my classroom, and teaching students how to properly use their technology. I think our debaters hit the topic perfectly. We discussed the impact technology has had positively and negatively and now it is our choice on how we approach the situation! I do not think technology is going away anytime soon. And it is important for our students to learn how to use it properly.