Pencils, Backpacks, and Perspective: Information in the Age of Google

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Being a digital native, it is safe to say that I enjoy an over-abundance of and easy access to information. If I’m trying to remember the specific date of an event or need a definition, the simplest way for me to find the answer is to Google it. I basic Google everything. And I’ve come to realize that when information is so easy to get a hold of, I don’t appreciate it nearly as much. So how do students learn to appreciate the world of information at their fingertips?

Well, many of my teachers have circumvented this problem by restricting research to solely non-internet sources. While this was frustrating to me at the time, it forced me to learn much more about the subject, as the answer was not simply handed to me within five seconds. Now, this is a great method for projects in the classroom and research papers, but it doesn’t necessarily help outside of these things.

Another option is to create assignments that can’t be Googled. Force students to get more creative with the way in which they utilize the information they’ve found. This could include anything from concept maps to video projects. Anything which could help them go beyond knowing to information to truly understanding it. Critical thinking tends to help students remember more information than a Google search could.

One last idea, rather than focusing on a project or goal, let students discover the research process itself. I’ve spent a relatively significant amount of time not just researching, but learning to understand research. If we go beyond finding information to teaching how to not only find the best sources, but also what it means that we can find these sources. Google is a huge part of our current culture, and it seems to me we should endeavor to figure out its place in the world.

Do your students appreciate information so easily found? Would you consider projects going beyond basic information? What else can we do to help students grasp how important information is?