Flunking Search

Clive Thompson at Wired magazine has a great article on Why Kids Can’t Search.  In it he points out the irony that even though today’s students are generally more tech savvy than their teachers, they’re terrible at finding reliable information online:

“Other studies have found the same thing: High school and college students may be ‘digital natives,’ but they’re wretched at searching. In a recent experiment at Northwestern, when 102 undergraduates were asked to do some research online, none went to the trouble of checking the authors’ credentials. In 1955, we wondered why Johnny can’t read. Today the question is, why can’t Johnny search?”

Students typically type their questions directly into Google and uncritically accept the top result as the best answer whether it is or not.  The reason for this?  Some laziness for sure, but a bigger issue is almost no one is teaching students how to perform an effective search or evaluate the results.  If technology curricula don’t include this important skill, we’re setting our students up for failure later on.

“This situation is surpassingly ironic, because not only is intelligent search a key to everyday problem-solving, it also offers a golden opportunity to train kids in critical thinking.”

What to do?  Here are some resources I’ve been using to teach effective online search: http://mrfortna.com/TF/TF.htm#search


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