Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Google "Complex"

I often wonder the impact that search engines are having on education.  I also wonder about text message services like "Cha Cha" that allows students (and many of my students have talked about using) to text their question and someone will do the research for them and then provide them the answer.  Is the Internet creating a generation of learners that will rely to much on someone (or an algorithm) doing the research for them and not understanding the value or importance of self discovery?

In recent studies and experiences it is becoming more evident that students are relying to much on someone or something getting the answer for them or giving them the answer.  I wonder if this comes from the impact of search engines and websites like Yahoo! Answers.  Part of me is glad that students are learning to use resources available to them to get the "help" they need.  Another part of me worries that we are "teaching" students to GET the answers instead of FIND the answers.

I have often referred to this as "Learned Helplessness."  Students are abusing the services that have been provided with little education on understanding how this will impact them.  They are learning to rely on resources for the answers instead of researching the answers for themselves.  They are waiting for something, or in many cases when technology is not available, someone to tell them the answer....because that is what these services do and it is what they have grown up doing.  I know "cheating" and "copying" have existed for years, but you had to have someone GIVE it to you first for you to be able to do that.

Is using Google to find answers to questions "cheating" for this generation?  Are search engines, Yahoo! Answers, and other services now the friend that would let students copy their work that students during our generation had?

What are your thoughts?  Would be interesting to see what other people think?


  1. With the introduction of every new technology there are concerns about the impact on the current generation of students. Television, calculators, PCs and the Internet have all been viewed with suspicion. Now, tablets, smartphones and search engines are under review. As long as teachers and the educational bureaucracy realize that progress will continue, they have a challenge/opportunity to integrate these new technologies into their curriculum.

  2. Search engines have taken critical thinking skills out of the educational equation. I do use Google images myself a lot for art projects, but I still possess the necessary skills to discover, solve problems, and think independently. Many of my art students want to search Google for an image pertaining to our current project, copy verbatim, and turn in as their own. This is not the majority, but enough of a minority to raise concern. I am now teaching appropriate use policies with Google images in an effort to ratify the problem. Even though students miss use of Google images bothers me, I am truly disturbed by students inability to make better grades in all their classes with these types of resources available.