What a Wonderful World… of Google?

Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” talks about how the world is wonderful. But the song does not mention Google, strange, right? Maybe it’s because the song was released in 1967 before the birth of Google or maybe it’s because Google is not that wonderful.

Is our world captivated by Google? Just a little something to ponder.
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So what is Google?

Google. What a wonderful search engine. It helps one find out who a celebrity is dating, the scores to the latest hockey game, and learning about the latest fashions trends. It allows you to play games and stream music. 

Also, for those in university, Google is a great source to find help for math questions and translations for Shakespeare’s English. I’d be lying if I said I did not use Google at all. I use it all the time. 

This week in EDTC 400, we discussed the topic “schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled”. Do I agree or disagree? Continue reading to find out. 

Agree

Sydney argued the agreeing side to this debate. The article “Why learn facts if you can Google”, helps defend Sydney in her fight. Do children need to learn dates? While knowing dates can be deemed important in a lesson such as history for the sake of chronological order, the dates of an event aren’t usually the main purpose of the lesson. This article suggests students should be taught the history and the reason of why events happened but when it comes to dates, they can be googled. I think this is true, dates are the hardest concept to remember when studying for a test in such a way that they take away from understanding why a certain event happened. What is more important… the dates of every single war between the French and the British when Canada was first explored or understanding the impact the French and British have on Canadian society today? If a student expresses interest in knowing the dates, they are able to go online and search for the dates which can easily be found. 

Should dates be taught in schools if they can easily be searched?
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Google not, learn not: why searching can sometimes be better than knowing” also examines why teachers should not focus on teaching things that can be googled. One point I feel speaks volume towards this topic is “When you start googling for answers to a problem you are facing, you quickly learn that you are not the only person to deal with this,”. Students may feel shy if they need help with a question and are afraid to ask, by using google to help learn how to solve the question, there is a high chance someone has asked the same question on Google. Google allows for students to learn different techniques to solve a problem in math which a teacher may not spend time teaching in class due to limited classroom hours. 

Our class discussion also included many points for this side of the argument including:

  • More time to focus on information that cannot be Googled such as chemistry labs
  • Allows for more one on one time with students 
  • Tutorials online are sometimes very useful for students

To wrap up the agreement side, this same argument mentions how one is able to learn more when they search online. This is true. I’m guilty of it. If I want to find something out, I simply can go on Google to expand my knowledge.

Disagree

While Sydney put in a good fight for the agreeing side, Aurora did not back out the ring to disagree. 

The TED talk, “The Moral Bias Behind Your Search Results”, brings up argument regarding knowledge. Yes, the video does agree that some questions can simply be Googled, it also argues “But if you complicate your question just a little bit and ask something like, ‘why is there an Israeli-Palestine conflict?’ You’re not exactly looking for a singular fact anymore, you’re looking for knowledge…”. While the answer for such a complex question like the one above may exist, it may only be written at an opinionated level or at a scholarly level which may confuse students. Some lessons can easily be googled, but will students understand the language? Are the sources legit and academic worthy? By the time a student deciphers the articles and source they are reading, a teacher could have explained the answer in a proper fashion at a level where the students are able to comprehend.  

Will technology make teachers obsolete?directs readers to the idea of do we need teachers. Do we? I believe we do. The article talks about teenagers not taking control and fully focusing on their education if they are left on their own to do their own education with technology. I am also concerned about this because I look at myself as a student. Sometimes I will be sitting at the kitchen table writing an essay and the next thing I know, I am on my couch watching Netflix on my computer. 

Do you get distracted when on Google?
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Finally, some points from our class discussion contributing to the disagreement side include:

  • Information overload – students may have a significant amount of information appear which also may be difficult to read
    • This statement made me think of math. While the answers for a math question may be able to be Googled with results showing up, once you enter the webpage, you are required to pay to see the steps and result. Does that help students? 
  • Students may be told to learn a lesson via Google, but will they actually do that? 
    • Would a student Google a theorem for a math equation because it is on Google so the teacher chose not to teach it? I wouldn’t. 
  • Spelling. Do we learn how to spell word if we just Google the word with how we believe it is spelt and then let Google inform you of the correct spelling? 
  • Accessibility. Do students have the means to Google? Is that fair for students who do not have access to Google? 

The Verdict

While both participants in this week’s debate raised good arguments, I have to side with Aurora on this topic. I believe teachers are able to engage students and explain concepts in a better fashion than Google is capable of. Google is great for going above and beyond a lesson to expand the “Google in one’s brain” but it cannot take the role of a teacher. Google is useful to search dates of important events and facts but for the explanation of how to calculate a derivative, it is much easier to have a teacher explain how to calculate it. 

So, as I part from this blog post I have a question for you, how heavily do you rely on Google for your education? Should we avoid teaching things that can be Googled with reasonable results appearing?

Thanks for reading.

  • Miss. Lang

To Enhance or Not To Enhance

William Shakespeare once wrote, “To be, or not to be” in Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet. While Shakespeare was certainly not talking about technology in the classroom and especially not talking about technology enhancing learning or not. I believe this quote relates to this debate because either technology enhances learning or it does not enhance learning. 

To Enhance Learning

Ashlee argued in which technology does indeed enhance learning providing facts and statements which I agreed with. She also provided articles for us to read to help decide where fellow peers would sit in this debate. The first article, “As Technology Becomes Easier to Use, Our Depth of Learning Needs to Continue to Increase,by George Couros is an article I urge readers to read. Couros asks readers if they remember using a manual to set up their iPhone. I thought about this, and no I did not. I switched from Samsung to iPhone and even though the phones are manufactured and designed differently, I had no problem in setting up my iPhone without a manual. At Christmas, I received an iPad for Christmas, which was set up in 2 minutes. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT, IT TOOK ME TWO MINUTES TO SET UP AN IPAD! Technology has been made to be so user-friendly that it takes little time to set it up.

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Couros goes on to say, “In many ways, this generation is better at technology than the previous generation, probably due to accessibility,” which is true for the most part. While some may not be able to afford technology, or keep up to date with technology as it is forever changing, most children growing up have access to technology. I was visiting family this past weekend and my three-year-old who can barely speak yet, is able to navigate an iPad, finding games she wants to find and selecting YouTube videos she wants to watch. My concern is, yes children have access to technology more than ever, but are we giving them access to it at too young of an age? Will they get sick of technology? Or become addicted and reliant on technology? 

An article published by the Journal of College Teaching and Learning discusses the use of webcasts, recorded audio and Skype. If teachers record their lessons or allow students who are missing class participate via Skype, it could enhance learning because students would not be missing instructional time. Even better, watch this video to see how video chat is connecting people across the world, words cannot explain it, it’s too beautiful to describe. 

Not to Enhance

Now let’s flip the switch, to the dark side. Literally, though, the first article Raeann provided to us for her side of the argument is called “The Dark Side of Educational Technology”. The article mentions the cost of technology. While schools may be struggling with budgeting for technology, parents may be too. I recently learnt of a school which requires parents to purchase some form of technology for their child to use for a “tech hour”.

Technology may be costly for some
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This may put parents in a predicament if they are not able to provide this technology, ultimately affecting the student’s learning. The same article asked the question “But what happens when the students go home?”. With this question, the author goes onto explain how some students may not have access to the internet. I would like to add that some students have no access to technology once they walk out of school. Does that enhance learning if the student is to make a video project but has no access to the technology required? 

The article brings up the idea of students using technology for cheating. I am in between about this topic. For one, teachers can choose for students not to have their cellphones or other electronics with them for a test if they wish. Teachers can simply ask students to lay their desks on a table at a front or implement a cellphone bucket. When it comes to plagiarising papers, a high school teacher told me “If a student is to plagiarize, you will know because you become familiar with their style of writing”. While it may prove to be difficult for some teachers to be familiar with all their students writing, there are websites available for teachers to use that simply require the teacher to submit the writing onto the website and it will search the internet for the entire paper. 

Notice the cellphone present in the photo
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Lastly, one last article mentions how students’ needs may not be met if technology is used for learning. The article explains “Many students learn physically and mentally interacting with what they are studying”, providing examples. Students vary in learning styles whether it be hands on, visual, or another form. Is it okay for teachers to be able to teach about the outdoors by an interactive app? Would students get to know rock texture varies with different kinds of rocks from seeing pictures on a tablet? I’m assuming the answer would possibly be yes but it would be more beneficial for students to take a walk outdoors to learn about it. That is, unless it is January in Saskatchewan where we are on week 2 of -20 temperatures. 

The Verdict

While I see the enhaincing side of technology in the classroom, I am able to see the downside as well. For this debate, I will leave you with a question to ponder… Do you believe students will grow tired of using technology in the classroom because they use it so often and want a break? Finally, the side I favour in this debate is the side where technology does not enhance learning in the classroom. 

Thanks for reading,

  • Miss. Lang