EdTech Debate #2 launched last week and the topic wording was a little confusing to say the least. I was on one of the two teams that faced off last week and feel that the topic "schools should not focus on teaching things that can be Googled" was a little problematic due to the double negative in the topic sentence. This led to both teams being stuck in the middle and giving pros and cons to Google. Though it may have been a little confusing, both teams made excellent points about the importance of critical thinking skills when it comes to accessing the unlimited amount of information on the internet.
Our teams stance was that Google is a good thing and can be an important and beneficial tech tool if used appropriately in a classroom. Take a look at our full length argument below:
Before diving deep into our research (which I will get to in a second), I was curious what my fellow colleagues at my school would think about this topic and was interested to get more perspective going into the conversation. What I noticed, was that a lot of my colleagues were also confused with the topics wording.
After having a chance to decipher some of my responses, I realized only a few of my colleagues posted that they agreed that Google is in fact a good thing when it comes to school. Four out of twelve responses agreed with some of our argument. A lot of the data received was focused on the pros and cons about Google. Here is one response that I think perfectly demonstrates why Google is a good thing if used correctly:
Response #1: Absolutely any topic or information could be found, somewhere on Google. If we were to limit to what was not on Google, there would be nothing left but personal, hands-on experiences. Students need to learn a variety of information, some of which they have easy access to on the internet. They also need to learn that not everything needs to be found on the internet. Most often, experiencing it yourself, or doing your own research, provides a much more enriched learning experience than learning about someone else's experiences. I honestly feel that students struggle with thinking (their own, original ideas) and experiencing for themselves because of Google. It's too easy and too accessible.
This reminds me of our first Ed Tech debate in May and about finding a balance when it comes to incorporating technology. Yes, without Google we would have nothing left to teach. But, that being said, I feel that you need to teach students that not all information on the internet is true and help them build a strong foundation of critical thinking skills. I think this also plays into our opponents point of how students we are teaching are going to be heading into a world of jobs that we don't know exist yet. Teaching children how to collaborate, communicate, and critically think is going to help instill the skills needed for them to head into the world on the right footing. These skills can be taught through the variety of Google Apps that Google offers to its users. I found the article 'Using Technology To Develop Students' Critical Thinking Skills' to be super helpful with breaking down what it means to think critically and it shares some ideas for technological activities to use to help foster these skills in your classroom.
Response #2: There are certain life skills - like adding and subtracting- that you can Google, but which are good to know to be able to live with some degree of freedom from technology (and because we can do them faster in our heads). If we are noticing now that an addiction to technology is impacting the well-being of children, why would we promote that further by only teaching skills that cannot be Googled? Additionally, there is some degree of base facts that we should all have (like the food groups) that we should just know in order to function competently and easily in our daily lives without technology. Also, have you had a conversation with someone that only Googles things? They don't make eye contact...
This response fits perfectly into our argument that though it is important for students to be able to think about what they are researching, it is also important for students to have information that they intrinsically know and use on a daily basis and that teaching memorization skills is still an important skill to have to build stronger connections in the brain.
Lastly, an interesting conversation began in my grade two classroom about Google. We just started talking about animals in science and we are going to be doing an inquiry research project. When I mentioned that I wasn't sure about something, one of my students yelled out "Google It!".
I then asked my kids if they thought Google was a good thing or a bad thing and they were split 50/50. The half that thought Google was a good tool said "What if you don't know the answer? How would we find it out?". The half that disagreed, brought up that "Not everything on Google is correct and sometimes it can be wrong". This discussion led to a wonderful way for me to model how to research for information properly. I showed them https://www.kiddle.co/ and explained how it gives us access to kid friendly information. We talked about how to check to make sure that information is correct and that we should check more than one source. I modeled what a "smart question" was so that we could get to the information we were looking for. In the end, it was the perfect way to show my students how to utilize these tools in the proper way. They then set out to find their research with their learning buddies and the majority of them were successful. Making students aware that they need to continue to think for themselves and having them think critically early on in their education will help them later in the technological world they head into as adults. Teaching them how to use the internet properly (going incognito on Google to help limit algorithms, finding information from scholar sources, using sites that are designed by the government, an organization, or other reputable source) will help them use Google the proper way.
So do I think we should Google? Absolutely, but it needs to be used properly and only in situations where it is actually 100% needed.