Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Are search engines making students dumber?"

While it is impressive that the concept of information literacy has hit the op-ed pages of the New York Times, the author of the piece discusses it rather clumsily, if you ask me. I'm not sure one can make the cause-and-effect claim that search engines are causing more students to be unprepared for college. Judge for yourself.


Barbara said...

Not only that, but much of his description of how Google has improved searching is questionable.

The whole argument reminds me of a similar one that made the rounds several years ago, that wordprocessing software made novice writers lazy because it was too easy. Well, typewriters didn't improve writing, but you tended to use them only after writing a draft by hand, so more than one draft was pretty standard. But the improved quality, if there was any, was only indirectly related and certainly not caused by the technology in use.

I felt compelled to write about this op-ed piece at ACRLog. What I found more fascinating was the public editor's column on the same page.

Charlotte said...

I just came across that editorial this past weekend while I was getting my NYT's fix. My sainted father mails the Sunday Times to me in Alaska every other week since two fit in a priority mail box rather nicely. I guess with all things library, junk in equals junk out. I use "Google" a lot, with plenty of sucess. The days when I spent time comparing one search engine with another are long gone. For me, it's a bigger issus....teaching kids how information is organized on-line is one thing, teaching them the flexibility with language so they can search successfully is another. I always use the phone book analogy with my students....are you looking for a beauty parlor, hairdresser or salon? Then it sorts of sinks in that one idea can have a lot of identities. If I have one complaint about google or any other search tool, it's that people are too complacent and they give up too easily, even trained professionals.