The internet has revolutionized information collection. The answer to virtually any question or problem is at our fingertips. Google has made this possible.
While I am a great admirer of Google and an avid user of its products, in a way, Google has made my life as a teacher a LOT more difficult. Let me explain. In the "old days" (that would be pre-internet) when a teacher assigned a worksheet with a series of questions on it students had a few options to get the answers.
1. Ask mom.
2. If mom doesn't know, ask Dad.
3. If Dad doesn't know look it up in the textbook.
4. If the answer isn't in the textbook, give up.
Now I am a teacher. When I give worksheets with questions on them my students immediately type the entire question into the omniscient search box on Google and in an instant, they have their answer. They have expended absolutely zero energy or effort to find the answer and as a result will not remember the question or the answer.
There are two solutions to this problem:
1. Ban the use of Google by all school-aged children.
2. Learn to write "Google-proof" questions.
Through extensive research and investigation I have come to the conclusion that option number one will prove to be an ineffective strategy. Therefore, we will proceed with option number two.
So, what is a "Google-proof question?" It is a question that can not be directly answered via Google (or any other search engine) because it requires, analysis, interpretation, and investigation. Writing such questions can be challenging. A helpful tool is Bloom's Taxonomy.
Bloom's is arranged into six different levels of questioning ranging from knowledge (the simplest) to evaluation (the most complex). It is only the top two levels, synthesis and evaluation that can be considered Google-proof. The verbs associated with these two levels include "compose, create, construct, rate, evaluation, design, appraise, argue, and assemble." Here are some sample questions that would fall into the analysis and evaluation levels of Blooms:
1. Rate the importance of the parts of the cell from least to most important.
2. Construct a graph to display the cost-benefit data of three types of biofuels.
3. Design an experiment to test the consumption of oxygen by germinating seeds.
These questions can not be Googled. The web will be a very helpful resource in collecting information related to these questions, but search engines will not lead to easy answers.
We are in an age of information. Storing facts in our brains is a pointless exercise (unless you plan on being on Jeopardy!). In the era of the iPhone, any fact, statistic, or desirable piece of information is only a few clicks away. The skill of the 21st century that will set people apart is what they can do with the information that is available to them. What new products, services, or procedures can be improved, created or derived from the information that we have? Knowing is not as important as using.
Google has made my job as a teacher a lot harder, but I'm glad. Now I have to think of new ways to challenge my students to evaluate and synthesize information.