I flinch a bit at such generalization, but “based on research” means something- in Wired, Clive Thompson speculates “Why Kids Can’t Search”:
We’re often told that young people tend to be the most tech-savvy among us. But just how savvy are they? A group of researchers led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan tried to find out. Specifically, Pan wanted to know how skillful young folks are at online search. His team gathered a group of college students and asked them to look up the answers to a handful of questions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the students generally relied on the web pages at the top of Google’s results list.
But Pan pulled a trick: He changed the order of the results for some students. More often than not, those kids went for the bait and also used the (falsely) top-ranked pages. Pan grimly concluded that students aren’t assessing information sources on their own merit””they’re putting too much trust in the machine.
And tus we stand affirmed- This tech whiz kids are not so savvy. Or We are still better. (?)
Yet, I believe the questions being asked are wrong.
“Kids” are given some assignment and want to get it done as fast as possible, to satisfy what is being set in front of them. They give the top results…because the question they are asked to “research” does not matter much to them.
When we talk of searching, we are talking the basic most bottom of the pyramid structure motivational task. Frankly, I don;t care if kids can “search”– I want to know what happens when they seek.
I expect the results change dramatically when the seeking matters, when there is an investment in the results (not just a grade). What happens when the study goes to looking what happens when kids (gawd I hate saying that again and again) are looking for an audio track to mix in their video, when they are trying to find out how to build something… I bet they are much more critical in the result- because they matter.
Thus I put little stock into these surveys because… well, I am sure everyone can remember being given rote assignments in school. Like 10,000 times.
And this blanket conclusion of “Kids Can’t do X”, well I can think of plenty of exceptions. What comes to mind was in 2008, when I got a chance to visit Brian Crosby’s 6th grade students in Reno. It was after I had skyped in to his class while I was in Iceland. As I was trying to tell the kids about things I saw there, like volcano heated homes and the northern lights, they were busily googling and asking me if this matched- they were in no way plucking the top results, but were connecting.
Kids can’t search because the questions we are asking are not big enough. Let’s stop patting ourselves on our backs for our critical thinking superiority.
And it’s not just kids, folks it is you too, when you ask questions rather than seek answers. For a large chunk of my career, especially in the last decade, most of my reputation for knowing something about technology came because people would call ro email asking a question, I would google the results, and send them a summary and links. I was not answering their question at all, but was seeking the answers. And it did matter to me because I wanted to help them.
This is not new, and I am not going to name people, but I regularly come across questions from some of my colleagues who are deep in the ed tech game — that I am able to answer by googling the query.
And I am finding some of this bleeding into my thoughts on Rhizomatic Learning – seeking is very much a part of this way of– being– it is more than a “model” or education or something to “integrate into a classroom”- we ought to be pushing a way of being in this world.
The nomadic way is seeking; the worker/solider way is searching.
We seek when it matters.