16 Comments

  1. Really like the contrast between adult resourcefulness and student cheating! A few thoughts:
    1. Information gathered from anywhere must be assessed for usefulness. In some cases, it might just be wrong (e.g., 1 foot = 11 inches). In other cases, it might be an inappropriate generalization (e.g., the most useful paint brush size is one-quarter inch wide) made by the author or the reader.
    2. Even information useful for one situation at one time must be assessed for usefulness for the same situation at a later time. (E.g., in the evolution of the outcome, the allowable uncertainty quite likely will decrease and thus the once useful approach will not be useful.) I would go further: A once useful approach should be expected to eventually become non-useful!
    3. I truly believe the core knowledge needed for any topic is much less than believed. What’s needed is simply the core knowledge that is required to proceed with Considerations of a situation leading to a vision that enables a useful outcome for the situation. Yes, new knowledge will evolve from those Considerations. AND that new knowledge will evolve into expanded core knowledge with repeated use and assessment. BUT even then, as I often mentioned to my students – “I never want to fly in an airplane you designed from memory / core knowledge. Don’t be so cocky that you don’t look the information up!”

    The examples cited are undoubtedly simplistic for most, maybe all. The assessment of them might be trivial. But, especially on the internet and, really, all other sources – refereed or not – must honestly be assessed (including after uses that follow information assessment). Even reference books and textbooks contain non-useful if not flat out incorrect information – and/or misleading / incomplete information because of publication word limits.

  2. CC

    No matter how well written, a straw man is a straw man. Accessing a resource, unless forbidden in the context of a task, has never been considered cheating. The principle is the same whether the resource is Google, a paper dictionary or a tribal elder. Any reasonable person doesn’t mind a doctor using Google any more than they mind a doctor consulting a Physician’s Desk Reference. However, a reasonable person also prefers a doctor that can finish a surgery if the wifi is down.

    • Don’t agree! I always used open-book exams. No student asked – but I’d like to think I would have said yes!!! Enough time would have been the issue – as well as equal access for all to the internet. As I noted in another comment, I always reminded my students “I don’t want to fly in an airplane if you designed it from memory.” Why make them do it on exams???

      IN FACT, why use exams (or graded, required homework) ever??? Have the students work on open-ended projects aligned with standards that they control; AND have them journal their efforts – progress, concerns, assistance, … – with the journal and student dialogue included in the teacher’s assigning course grades. No issue with internet access, though teacher thoughts about expected student time comittment is important in defining question development.

      • As a Visual Art and Media Arts teacher, I am very much in favor of project based learning. Even my Final is a project, for a variety of reasons.

        But I’m required by my employer to have assessment grades, so some of my projects are “tests” – even though students aren’t answering a series of multiple choice or essay questions.

        The point I was trying to make in my original comment is that any assessment I give expects students to have access to “real world” tools, including the internet at large and Google specifically. I have seen teachers (and Pearson) decide the best way to deal with internet use during an assessment is to call it cheating, because that’s far easier than designing an assessment that takes those skill sets into account.

  3. Study for the test.
    Test prep.
    Cram.

    These are standard student practices which reflect the reality of most exam situations.

    What information students have for a test is not knowledge. It’s temporary, short term memory at best, with test grades often reflecting the level of cram which was accomplished.

    Building long term memory requires effective context for the knowledge. Students need to develop a web of connections to a concept for it to stick.

    Cheat?

    Students are cheated all the time by the testing process.

    • There are ways to study for a test and retain much of that knowledge for a long time after the test. Cramming is not one of them but we can’t blame cramming on the test. If we show students how to best study and prepare and learn (including how to find it online or in a library or through social media), them they’ve learned something extremely valuable regardless of the content of that test.

      • Cramming (memorizing for short-term recall on an exam) is certainly not knowledge building. I have a blog (Considerations) talking about building knowledge that is in long-term memory. And yes, it works well for test preparation… But I firmly believe that for that knowledge to be useful (and I believe that’s always going to be the case – even if we’re not aware how…), it must be usable!!!

    • Sadly, that is the worst form of cheating… Even worse, too many educators at a minimum don’t address this and maybe even facilitate their ‘finding shortcuts’!!!

  4. Chris

    There is a substantial amount wrong with this post. Knowledge is in a person’s brain(long term memory). What you refer to access to knowledge is actually information. Knowledge and information are very different.

    Knowledge is the backbone to understanding, learning, reading and high level skills.

    Reading comprehension is largely based on knowledge. If you know very little, reading with be extremely difficult. On the other hand, if you know lots, reading with be very easy. If you struggle with reading looking on Google will be rather useless. http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/AE_SPRNG.pdf

    Critical and creative thinking are largely knowledge dependent. Can’t be creative or think critically about a subject you know very little about. http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/Crit_Thinking.pdf
    https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2014/minding-knowledge-gap

    Knowledge also has other benefits. Makes learning easier. See here https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2006/how-knowledge-helps

    And finally why google can’t replace human knowledge. https://3starlearningexperiences.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/why-google-cant-replace-individual-human-knowledge/

    I have read your blogs often and one chapter from your book. What disappoints me George, is you rarely use research to support your arguments. You often use anecdotal evidence which is by far the worst type to support an argument.

    Despite the rise of Google knowledge is still power. I would argue it is even more important now with a rise of ‘fake facts’. One of my favorite quotes on Google and education is “Google is not an equal-opportunity fact finder; it rewards those already in the know.” In sum, going away from knowledge hinder disadvantaged students the most promoting inequality.

  5. George,

    Excellent post. Now here are two questions for you:

    How do we measure how well we’ve helped students to gain their access to knowledge? How do we know where we could improve in helping them to be successful?

    • Answers to both questions, Darren Draper: The access to information (becomes knowledge only when given Considerations – my term and blog – leading to Effective Learning, i.e., knowledge) and what help might make things better has to depend upon their uses of the information gathered.

  6. Mary

    It really isn’t about the knowledge any more nor even accessing it since almost every one can access almost everything -it is about how you discern the usefulness of that knowledge and what you do with that knowledge – how you reconstruct it, how you change it,how you add to it. This takes creativity and imagination – but it also takes those basic skills – the ” ground floor”

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