Let’s All Blame Google

"Googling isn't learning."

I saw this quote in an article in an educational glossy lying in the staffroom and it caught my eye enough to use (ironically enough) Google to find the source. It comes from The Australian newspaper in an article written by Justine Ferrari titled interestingly enough "Low marks for computers in schools" - an interesting read in itself. If you read the full article, you will notice that I have lifted those three consecutive words totally out of context - it's not entirely what the quoted professor was intending to say - but it's more the fact that this quote sums up a lot of educators' mindsets is what intrigues me.

Using Google or any other search engine is definitely learning in my book but the degree of effectiveness can vary according to purpose. Even the most shallow of cut'n'paste efforts learns something, even if it's to become better lifters of text for shallowly defined assignments. But with an effective teacher at the helm, Google can be a very powerful tool to improve student information literacy. I get what the quote hints at to some degree - too often students are just left to use Google without any scaffolding or guidance on how to interpret or manipulate the results.

Again, Google's potential benefit is totally determined by the pedagogy employed in its use. Sometimes, a person offering an opinion that "Googling isn't learning" is revealing something about how they view the process of learning.

Image: 'Google logo render - mark knol'

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6 thoughts on “Let’s All Blame Google

  1. warrick

    It’s funny how some educators can get all upset that this amazing resource is available to students and somehow wish we all had to rely on textbooks again.

    Of course googling isn’t learning, but rote-learning, factual recall of the names of the rivers of Australia or the early explorers, wasn’t learning either.

    I was at a conference workshop recently where we were given a reading from the ATLANTIC: ‘Is Google Making us Stupid’ (link below) The response to that contention in the group I was in was almost entirely generational; nostalgic yearning for the good ol’ days from the older teachers, rejection of that thesis from the younger ones.


  2. Hannah Davis

    I can definitely see where this person is coming from. I agree with you too. If I ever need to know or find out something my first response is usually…Google! I always say “you can find absolutely anything on Google.” Sometimes that can be a bad thing though. We all know our world is not perfect and the internet is most definitely not perfect. I think it is important for students to know how to use Google properly.

  3. Graham Wegner

    I agree with you definitely WRT your last sentence. We do our students a great disservice if we do not actively teach them how to use any search engine effectively. Without doing that, it would be like tossing a kid a set of car keys and saying, “Get yourself from Point A to B” without any guidance, any prerequisite skills or tuition.

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Graham wrote:
    Again, Google’s potential benefit is totally determined by the pedagogy employed in its use

    Well said, Graham….Pedagogy remains king again, huh?

    What’s interesting is how slowly pedagogy changes—-and how unresponsive educators are to changing their pedagogy.

    Do you think there need to be more levers to drive change in pedagogy? What steps can “we,” meaning a society of people interested in seeing success in education, take to see the quality of teaching and learning experiences improve in classrooms?

    Until that challenge is resolved, methinks we’re screwed!


  5. Shannon

    You hit on a great point about using Google. Teachers need to actually, wait for it, TEACH students how to use search engines. I was in a class of high school seniors that knew how to use Google but not how to distinguish a good article from a bad one. Great point

    PS- Love your blog. You give me, an intern teacher just learning the ropes, some helpful ideas to think about.


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