TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Online Research Worries Many Educators

Re: Online Research Worries Many Educators

Ron Chapman (
Thu, 9 Dec 2004 23:38:11 -0500

In article <>, Monty Solomon
<> wrote:

> By ANICK JESDANUN AP Internet Writer

> NEW YORK (AP) -- Go to Google, search and scroll results, click and
> copy. When students do research online these days, many educators
> worry, those are often about the only steps they take. If they can
> avoid a trip to the library at all, many students gladly will.

> Young people may know that just because information is plentiful
> online doesn't mean it's reliable, yet their perceptions of what's
> trustworthy frequently differ from their elders' _ sparking a larger
> debate about what constitutes truth in the Internet age.

> Georgia Tech professor Amy Bruckman tried to force students to leave
> their computers by requiring at least one book for a September class
> project.

> She wasn't prepared for the response: "Someone raised their hand and
> asked, "Excuse me, where would I get a book?'"

> While the answer might just have been a smart aleck's bid for laughs,
> Bruckman and other educators grapple daily with the challenge of
> ensuring their students have good skills for discerning the truth.
> Professors and librarians say many come to college without any such
> skills, and quite a few leave without having acquired them.

> -

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The argument about 'computers versus
> real books' seems to me to be just a re-hash of the argument a few
> years ago about why 'computers are used for invasions of privacy,
> instructions for building bombs, pornography, inappropriate inform-
> ation for kids, etc' but libraries are where kids should be going.
> I *thought* we had resolved that one by pointing out that there is
> absolutely *nothing* you can learn from a computer that you could not
> learn from a library as well; the entire difference being the speed
> and ease of the learning process. We did NOT start suddenly aquiring
> the wisdom of the world with the invention of the computer and later
> the internet. The computer and internet are simply tools to use in
> your learning experience. The 'information explosion' did not begin
> with computers; it started in the fifteenth century with the invention
> by Guttenberg of a printing machine out of old wine skins. So what are
> these people complaining about, that the tools for learning have been
> improved? It is true that computers have hastened the 'information
> explosion', but who is to be blamed for that, Bill Gates, or the
> parents whose children use computers instead of *at the very least*
> know the 'old fashioned' techniques for learning? PAT]

Pat, I don't think the point here was really that they're using
computers instead of books. I think the point was that "on the net,
no one knows you're a dog." Just because it's written online doesn't
mean it's true or relevant.

Books, by their very nature, are wrought from processes that distill
the crap out and leave hard-considered facts and opinions. But on the
net, all it takes is one crazy to set up a "the Holocaust was a fake"
blog -- and how does a ten year old know how to interpret that? He
doesn't. But he reads it on the net ... so does he just go ahead and
use that as "fact" to back up his assignment?

It's all about EDITING.

Now, maybe if my kid's research was done online using only EDITED
resources, resources that have been through the same excruciating
processes that produce printed books, that would be fine. But we're
too caught up in "gotta have it now, right or wrong" and people write
and say ANYTHING just to get it out there. (Calling Mr. Rather,
calling Mr. Dan Rather, white courtesy phone ...) Kids need
direction -- and the naked net, by itself and without any parental or
educational coaching, is NOT the place to send the limited mind of a
ten or fifteen year old who doesn't have the tools to understand the
nature or context of the information. (Think people who use the net
to prey on kids.)

Unedited information makes for dangerous waters. It requires at the
least parental coaching to help the child become a well-rounded and
educated netizen. One should NOT leave the child alone to use the
naked net to finish an assignment. My parents could leave me in the
library by myself to do that, and I could leave my kid in the library
today, but not on the net. Not alone and without guidance.

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