Working around Google's reign on education
The question of whether Google impacts the way people learn is as old as Google itself. Opinions about its pros and cons are in constant flux. Fantasizing about retreating into our luddite shells of looking up information in the library is not productive. To live in today’s reality of information retrieval is to be a subject in the monarchy of King G.
For instructors, this raises questions about working with a tool that has rendered tests of memorization useless. Some instructors retaliated by banning access to the king's tool during tests. This served the instructors little more than enabling their own laziness.
Yet, their time will come like all the laggards before them. Even the students ask about their ability to learn when consulting the king. But this king is not malevolent. He doesn’t retaliate against dissents. He waits for them to go extinct.
This king is only concerned with his wealth. As instructors, we still have a way around his all-consuming knowledge. I would even say that we may gain from it by forcing ourselves to guide our students in ways the king doesn’t understand: critical thinking.
Though it may seem that King G has answers to all our woes, the reality is that he is limited to the simple retrieval of words said by others. Much to his chagrin, he cannot form the opinions of his subjects, but only inspire them with facts and figures.
Indeed, the best way to work with the king as instructors is to acknowledge him. In one of my assignments, I don’t give students an article to read. Instead, I give them a few search terms they can use to look up the subject. Then they are to select articles they thought helped them understand the concept and explain why in a forum. It’s a slight twist to the “pre-reads” we give our students to prepare for class, except in this case they are more proactive. It also allows them to leverage their experience of existing under the inescapable grasp of our modern kingdom.
After all, our job as instructors is not to impose our feelings towards the king onto our students. Our job is to show them how to best expand their mind in a time where tools like that of our king threaten our curiosity.