Should Educators Not Teach Things That Can be Googled?

This was the main topic for our debate in EDTC 400 this week. The debaters were Sydney McGrath (pro side) and Aurora Lay-Street (con side), and both presented great information to their arguments.

For the pro side, Sydney argued that Google can be a useful tool to utilize in the classroom for many reasons. Instead of teaching something that can be easily Googled, teachers should be utilizing the search engine to allow students to have an opportunity to research a topic they were given by their teacher. Sydney made it clear that classroom teaching should be relevant to the 21 century, and Google plays a huge role in that. To ignore it would be a disservice to students. For students to be successful, we must ensure that we are allowing them to problem solve creatively and efficiently, and we need to remove the idea that memorizing is equivalent to learning.

Another great argument Sydney mentioned is that if we were to remove Googleable content from the classroom, we can dedicate more time to teaching students subjects that they are interested in and create life-long learners. It can also allow time for educators to teach using multiple teaching styles so that all students learn. The lecture model is outdated and not beneficial, and by eliminating Googleable content from the classroom we can allow more time for different teaching methods.

For the con side, Aurora highlights the overload of information online, and the overload of information that can be found by searching through Google. Children struggle to interpret this information, and can often be misinformed by what they find online. Not only that, but once a person finds an answer to their question, they typically stop searching and don’t go into further detail on their topic. Aurora mentions a study that was done by Science Magazine. They had two groups of students looking at information they learned in class, where one group had access to that information through search engines, and the other group did not have access to that information. The group that did not have access learned more than the group that did have access. This goes to show that even with search engines at our fingertips, relying on it can result in less learning in students.

What’s my opinion on all of this? Looking at an article by The Independent, there were many arguments to be made for the pro side. One thing that stuck out to me that was mentioned in the article is that “teachers are there to facilitate learning, and not just mediate knowledge,” and “we need to get away from the Victorian idea that teachers are the source of all knowledge.” If we utilize search engines, we can ensure that learning is heightened. It’s true that teachers don’t have all the answers, so if they can expand on the knowledge that they have while also using Google to allow for more learning time, we can help our youth learn more. Also mentioned in the article is the problem with memorization. Memorizing is not learning, and if we continue to teach using memorization as an endgame, students will never learn.

We also have to get over the romanticizing of old methods. Mentioned in this article by The Guardian, every method of learning or problem solving was a form of technology, and we have to be constantly adapting. Old methods become obsolete, and in order to move forward, we have to accept tools like Google.

However, completely eliminating topics that are Googleable can be dangerous. Today it is much harder to differentiate between real and fake news. While we can try to teach students how to spot information that is true and false, we will never be 100% effective. Really, as mentioned by Andreas Ekström in his TED Talk, “The moral bias behind your search results,” Google is biased. Think of the many times you have searched something and a popular website pops up. A website with the most traffic is going to be at the top of your search result–that does not mean it is the most reliable for knowledge. As stated by Ekström, in order for a person to gain knowledge you need to look over multiple sources, and when Googling for information most people stop instead of exploring and do not gain much knowledge at all.

I think the reason people are so opposed to search engines is fear. Many worry that our teachers will become obsolete through technology. There are so many online classes people can take these days–how long until the profession no longer exists? I say that educators will always exist, and so does Wade Deacon in his article, “Will technology make teachers obsolete?” There might be thousands of online courses, but most of those courses are facilitated by teachers. Also, how many of us have taken an online course and fallen behind because there was a lot of independent learning involved? I know I have, and so have many of my friends. Deacon mentions that pupils are not equipped to teach themselves, and that’s where teachers come in. They are there to facilitate learning, and Google cannot be used to replace them.

After hearing both sides of the argument, I think that we should still teach subjects that can be Googled. Search engines cannot provide reliable answers all the time, and it is up to the teacher to educate students on what is true and what is false.

 

 

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One Reply to “Should Educators Not Teach Things That Can be Googled?”

  1. Thanks for your great post Shaleen! I thought it was also quite interesting how search results can be filtered! I really liked how you pointed out that sites that have more traffic come up sooner in search results in addition to acknowledging the value in gathering multiple sources. This makes me think of all of the different perspectives and ways of knowing there are and makes me think cautiously about how and in what content information is gathered. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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