Guilty…. I use Google often!

Google is something that has become normalized and used often in today’s society.   I am definitely guilty for using Google on a daily basis, not only for research and learning purposes but as a source of communication as well. I am a physical education specialist and was hired as that 6 years ago, however along the way I have incorporated some kindergarten and health into my teaching. I am not going to lie but during those times when I was stuck in an unfamiliar place and seeking assistance, resources and ideas Google was definitely one of my best friends. I had a question box in my health class and often time’s students would ask questions where I’d have a hard time wording it in terms that students would understand and sure enough my trusty friend Google was always there to help and support me. The debate presented in this week’s class really could have gone either way, like many things that involve technology I think our main concern is everything needs to be in moderation. I am all for supporting the use of Google, however it is essential that we teach students how to be digital citizens and use the technology wisely and effectively. Once we have presented guidelines and work in moderation I think that being able to Google factual information with credible sources is actually a skill.

The article “How Google impacts the way students think” suggests that if people who are using Google can search for answers then their questions likely aren’t worthy. This statement was frustrating to me because there are often times where I tell my students “If I don’t know the answer I will find it for you” and I often will google their questions. In saying that I don’t think there is ever a terrible question, however there may be terrible answers. Google doesn’t necessarily provide us with all credible sources therefore it is crucial to find credible sources that provide research/resources to support your question. This article also states that once something is Googled the “assignment” is likely finished or are ready to continue googling because that is much easier than thinking. I do believe when we are using Google your brain is working, you may not be thinking of the answers yourself however we are doing the work of going through the resources, picking out credible sources and rewording or taking that information to somehow fit it into what we are doing. I do believe that there is a valuable amount of learning that does go on with the use of google and once again moderation is key and there is a time and a place for everything!

The next resource that the group offered that I decided to dive into was “How the internet is changing your brain” . This video was actually quite intriguing and informational. There has been research suggesting that college students remembered less information when they were able to access it later. The research makes sense, there is no need to memorize information if you are going to be able to access it later. I know the debate would begin here, with the importance of memorizing information etc. The debaters actually brought up memorizing phone numbers rather than keeping them stored in our phone for later use. To be honest, I know my parent’s house phone number (not their cell phones) and my husband’s cell phone number and that is it. I am guilty of relying on technology (aka my cell phone) for the storage of my friends and families phone numbers. Is it really of great importance that I know their numbers off by heart? I know two of the most important numbers by heart and if I were ever in the case of an emergency I would call those numbers first. I am saying all of this from the perspective of an adult, I do however think it is of great importance for children/students to know emergency phone numbers, their name, their address etc. I think it comes down to as an adult I am better able to make safe decisions that will not put me in jeopardy, whereas children sometimes do not have this ability yet and could be put into a situation where they may need to know this pertinent information. This article also discusses how our brains do what we train them to do, once we open a browser our brain automatically prepares to skim rather than learn. This is reality however, are we able to take the information we are skimming and learn something from that in other ways, by thinking deeper and more critically about a specific topic. Is there a way we can un train our brains to skim and dive into internet browsers with full learning capacity? I don’t know the answers, however it would be an interesting topic of research and discussion. I am a huge advocate for finding ways to connect the curriculum to the lives and experiences of our students. This video suggests that we need to spend less time on factual memorization and more time making these connections for our students. I totally agree, I think students gain a great deal and have a more valuable learning experience when they are able to experience it and make connections with their learning and their real life. I often find ways in my own teaching or try to provide learning experiences where students can think critically and make connections between school content and real life, this is essential when we talk about building lifelong learners.

Luke made a great analogy in their debate. He was discussing Google vs. experience. He talked about someone going in for a routine surgery and how comfortable you would be with your surgeon if one said “I’ve Googled this, I know how to do it.” Vs. another that said “I’ve done this a ton of times before, I know how to do it.” After he provided us with this analogy I would much rather have the surgeon who has experienced hands on surgery vs. someone who has Googled it but has never experienced the actual surgery before. This was a great way to put Google vs. experience into perspective, thank you Luke!

I looked over one of the resources provided by the other group and this resource has several reasons as to why memorization would enhance learning and would be more beneficial to our students. The article suggested that once you memorize information it is always with you, you don’t have to rely on sources to look up information. This is true in some aspects, however I do feel as you move through life there are things that you eventually lose. When I was younger I had all my friends phone numbers, addresses, etc. memorized but just because I memorized it then doesn’t mean it is still with me. This is true with any information, I have memorized things for tests simply for the purpose of the test but now if I were to dip back into my brain somewhere I would remember reading or learning about it but wouldn’t be able to pull out general facts or things that I had memorized at the time. I do believe that memorization is a skill and the learning/memorizing needs to be continuous in order to keep these things with use throughout our lifetime. This article also suggested that memorization is exercise for the brain, it trains our brain to develop learning with enhances our learning in the future. Like I said before I think there is a time and a place for everything and memorization would also fall under this category. In order for us to teach our students to think critically, problem solve, and be successful citizens I think we need to combine memorization, curriculum and life experiences and this will provide opportunities for our students to be engaged citizens in and out of schools.

Both groups did an excellent job of providing valid points to support their arguments. It made voting for the winner of this debate really challenging as there were points of the debate where I’d find myself swaying towards one side then the other group would bring up a great point and I’d be swayed the other way. I don’t’ think there is a concrete answer or conclusion to this debate, I do believe it will be an ongoing debate for years to come, however I don’t think Google is going anywhere in the near future so I think if our students are going to be using technology and google is a part of that why not use it to our advantage and incorporate it into our teaching….. in moderation!

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