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Intelligence and Google

Intelligence and Google

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Published by John Koetsier

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Published by: John Koetsier on Oct 29, 2009
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Intelligence in a Sea of Data
Intelligence in a Sea of Data:Teaching and Learning in the Google GenerationJohn KoetsierUBC
Intelligence in a Sea of Data
The science classroom is intentionally a place where learning occurs … wherestudents are intended to come to know certain things about the nature of the world welive in. But what exactly does that mean? Merriam-Webster tells us that the word
comes, via various detours through linguistic byways, from the Latin present participle of 
: to know. While the etymology of a word does not determine contemporaryconnotation or denotation, it is the case that science is a (and probably
) dominantWestern means of knowing, understanding, and therefore learning about the world today.But when just about anything anyone wants to know is a simple search away, what,specifically, constitutes education in the age of Google? And, is it enough to know
,without knowing
, or
?A veteran science teacher that I interviewed broached this topic when Iinterviewed him recently. During our discussion of educational technology, I asked him if there are any ways that technology hinders learning. His answer is both insightful andrevealing, for multiple reasons:At times it may end up giving people a real quick fix to a problem and they maynot be actually forced to think it through. Since Google, students need an answerquickly, so they don't know how to use a glossary or index. They want somethingright away, and to look back to a previous paragraph is too much effort.
He’s actually saying two things here. First, that students in some cases are seeking
Interview with veteran teacher conducted January 27, 2009, by John Koetsier.
Intelligence in a Sea of Data
quick answers that others have created – received wisdom, so to speak - so they don’thave to undergo the intolerable mental stress of building interlocking edifices of conjectures that lead to principles. And second, he’s saying that not only have students insome cases lost their desire to undertake the heavy intellectual lifting that is part of thetraditional learning process … they’ve also even lost the ability to personally seek foranswers. After all, why read or even scan an old-fashioned dead tree tome when amulticolored electronic butler will do it for you?That’s a serious challenge to an education system. Regardless of whether teachersare using digital or analog tools, if students don’t want to figure out the answer and alsowon’t strain themselves to find it personally, teaching anything beyond search andretrieval skills starts to sound like a significantly difficult uphill battle.This veteran teacher’s statement sounds eerily similar to comments reported bytechnology writer and author Nicholas Carr, who wrote the widely-discussed article IsGoogle Making Us Stupid
in mid-2008. In it, Carr cites pathologist and educator BruceFriedman, who recently confessed that he has now “almost totally lost the ability to readand absorb a longish article on the web or in print.
” Carr himself has the same issue …he feels he is losing the ability to focus, to concentrate … “now my concentration oftenstarts to drift after two or three pages.” Is our ability to learn being negatively affected byour media technologies?It’s not just popular authors, either. Deep learning, the kind of learning thatuncovers associations, connects theoretical frameworks, and gets behind the what to the
Retrieved February 4, 2009 fromhttp://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google

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