The Great Debate: Schools Should Not Focus on Teaching Things That Can be Googled

This was an interesting debate!  I could definitely see both sides of this argument.  On one hand, as Nicole, Channing, and Jodie debated for the agree side, if learners already have core function skills, then google shouldn’t hurt.  It allows students to multi-task. I thought it was a good point that books become outdated very quickly.

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Jodie stated that rote learning (Eg. Multiplication tables) in general, does not stay with learners for life but is repetitive and therefore easy to lose focus. This is also repeated in the TedX talk titled, “Knowledge is obsolete, so now what?”

In the video, Pavan Arora states that memorization is a thing of the past due to so much knowledge at our fingertips because of technology and smartphones.  We can learn anything just by ‘googling’ it.  It also reminds me of all the tests I studied for in nursing school, most of that knowledge was spewed out for the exam and unless that skill was used, just flew right out of my head!  Knowledge that sticks is what is useful and must be applicable to ‘real life’ situations.

On the disagree side, Catherine, Amanda, and Shelby argued that there would be nothing left to teach if we limit our materials to what cannot be googled.  This is a very valid point!  I think it relates back to digital literacy.  Amanda made a good point that many things that are googled contain bad information.  Instead teachers need to focus on providing instruction for better research skills (using google) and critical thinking. The article called, “Teaching students better online research skills” called this, ‘smart searching’.  I don’t think google is going away anytime soon, therefore we need to make sure learners learn to use it wisely.

I also thought their point that googling is making students lose their attention spans and creating difficulty filtering out unnecessary information, or a ‘decrease in deep reading’ was very good.  Catherine pointed out that memorization lays foundational knowledge for higher thinking and strengthens brain connections. This is repeated in the article, “Why memorizing facts can be keystone to learning”.

I enjoyed reading the article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?”.  It states that there is a recent loss of deep thinking and deep reading because people think it’s just faster to skim the web.  I have experienced this a number of times with my adult students as well as my own teenage children.  It seems that if there is a debate on a topic or a question is asked, if you answer it from your personal knowledge, the other person will not be satisfied unless they reach for their phone and ‘confirm’ it with google!  It can be quite frustrating!  On the other hand, google can be quite handy for a general search engine.

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In the end, I have to say that I agreed with Catherine, Amanda and Shelby, who disagreed with the debate #2 topic, ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled,’ after hearing the excellent debates and reflection on the readings and my own personal experiences.

In the latter part of the class, I enjoyed hearing Alec discuss all the alternative search engines and teaching resources!  I never realized that algorithms are attached to each google search and can mess up our search results! Some great tips were given to prevent this and improve our search results.  Thank-you Amy, for mentioning the idea to, ‘google advanced search’ for finding ‘free for public use’ images!  I’ll definitely use that in my day-to-day work!

At the end of class, Alec asked, “In your discipline, is there any content that you feel you can replace?  With what?”.  Interestingly, research has proven that ‘high fidelity simulations’, as I discussed in my last blog, can improve nursing students’ critical thinking skills.  In my work in the Practical Nursing Program, ‘high fidelity simulations’ have replaced some real hospital ‘clinical’ work experience for the nursing students on a small scale, for now.

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For example, we are no longer allowed to take students to a pediatric hospital unit due to so many nursing programs vying for space and booking issues.  Instead, we are able to do a high-fidelity simulation at Saskatchewan Polytechnic Regina Campus, for students to simulate a pediatric clinical experience.  This is considered in some cases even better than real-life hospital experiences for nursing students!  Who knows what might happen in the future with constant technology improvements!

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2 thoughts on “The Great Debate: Schools Should Not Focus on Teaching Things That Can be Googled

  1. I can really relate to your view on test taking! I was also able to study for tests and memorize, but did it ever fly out of my head fast. I also agree that real life situations are the best way for students to learn. I was just reading Jodie’s blog and she also mentions this. It is really cool that simulations are integrated into the nursing program. I know that our Healthy Science class at CRP tries to do as many real life situations as possible. I find if students experience a lesson it means much more to them… and they retain the information.

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