I asked a group of teachers, “When you need information, what do you do?”
Think about the question yourself…what do you do? Do you ask colleagues? Look at encyclopedia? Throw in your “Encyclopedia Britannica” CD Rom into your computer?
What they ALL said (all of them) was that they “google it”.
The ability to google something is important, but assessing that information is imperative. Many have advocated that students should have the ability to have a device during exams. Wouldn’t that create a better test? Finding the information is important, but what you do with the information is where the rubber really hits the road. If I can google the answer to the test, is the assessment any good?
If you think about it, how many adults go to a textbook to find information? Honestly, why do we even teach with textbooks anymore? Because they are engaging and mirror what we see in the real world or because they are the easiest way to deliver a packaged curriculum? Nowhere outside of schools is “science” that packaged.
Now, when I think about how I look for information, “googling” something is not on the top of my list. Often I ask the question on Twitter and get fewer results which are always better, because they are researched and used by teachers that I have connected with. Can anyone do that at this moment? Probably not, but I have taken the time to develop a network of educators that has actually saved me time in the long run. The time spent following and learning from other educators has been invaluable to my work and is actually a “21st Century Literacy“:
Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought.
I also have learned where to get information on specific things such as hotels. Searching google might lead me to the hotel’s website and let me know what the people who own the place think of it but Trip Advisor tells me what people who have stayed at the establishment think of the place. How many hotel websites say that their establishment is just “ok”. Sites like Trip Advisor keep many organizations “honest” and actually forces them to produce a better product. Having a “name” as a hotel is no longer enough; you have to back it with quality. If you aren’t using sites like this already, what information are you losing out on?
I have thought a lot about this topic when I saw the following quote:
“When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become obsolete.” Seth Godin
The technology will always change, but the skill to find information, make sense of it, and then do something meaningful with what we have learned, is essential.