Is Google a bad word? Is it a negative aspect of the Internet? Do you use it? How many times do you use Google or another search engine to help you solve a problem or answer a question?
The other day I was listening to a teacher, who I highly respect, talk excitedly about a class activity she was having her students participate in. The students were having to solve a problem where they were only able to use the materials in the bags given to them. The task at hand, to build a structure that stood in one circle but suspended some objects over other circles. It seemed like a great activity, one that would require problem solving. Being the guy I am, I immediately asked if any of the groups used Google to look for a solution to the problem. The teacher said no and that even if a group wanted to she wouldn’t let them. My first response was, “Why?” We didn’t get into a conversation about this as we were beginning a meeting but it got me thinking.
In real life are we presented with tasks we cannot use the Internet to help us solve? Shouldn’t the use of the Internet be used as a tool for learning? Shouldn’t we train our students to be able to make use of the Internet in meaningful ways? Shouldn’t students be trained to search for and find information, evaluate the information to check validity and then make use of it in some manner to assist in their own synthesis?
I am reminded of the article I read from Sugata Mitra where he states, “When they (students) complete their schooling and start a job, they are told to solve problems in groups, through meetings, using every resource they can think of. They are rewarded for solving problems this way – for not using the methods they were taught in school.”
If school is not going to teach students skills they need in the real world what will they teach them?
I think it is time to rethink what we are teaching. Students should be taught to use all resources available to solve problems not prohibited from their use.
Thanks for reading