Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 03, 2021

A blanket assumption about the younger generation is that they’re more technically adept than their older counterparts, and so are able to maximize the use of everyday tools like the Web.

So why are educators going to lengths to determine how good college students are at accessing solid information from electronic sources? Because:

“They’re real comfortable instant-messaging, downloading MP3 files. They’re less comfortable using technology in ways that require real critical thinking,” says Teresa Egan of the Educational Testing Service.

Or as Lorie Roth, assistant vice chancellor of academic programs at California State University puts it: “Every single one that comes through the door thinks that if you just go to Google and get some hits — you’ve got material for your research paper right there.”

In other words, the ease of access to so much information has fostered a general laziness. Because it’s so easy to tick up Google hits, we’ve lost the taste for the grunt work of truly critical research and analysis. In fact, we’ve deferred in that decisionmaking to Google’s “relevance” ranking (which I put in quotations because, frankly, I know it’s a crock, and an easily-manipulatable one at that).

As the Web becomes more and more cluttered with random scribblings every day/hour/second, the notion of being able to find qualified information instantly becomes less likely. That makes the ability to distinguish between useful and bogus sources more important than ever. So it makes sense to foster that skill early, by changing fundamental mental approaches:

[Steve Jones, communications professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago says,] “I tell the students, ‘Some of you are going to put off this paper until the night before. You’re going to go to Google, type in search words and just look at the top five hits and use those. I’m going to grade you on this. I’m going to look at these sources and so let’s talk about how to evaluate sources.’”

Which doesn’t necessarily mean they all “suddenly become fabulous information evaluators and seekers, but it gives them a little bit of an idea that this isn’t something that’s apart from learning.”

I’ve covered this ground before, when it was discovered that teens in general are less savvy about basic Web use than the general population. And when it comes to research acumen, everyone in this Net generation can stop deluding themselves about how good they think they are at ferreting out information.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/03/2021 11:54:06 PM
Category: Internet, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)


Well, I said I’d spend the day rebuilding this blog’s templates and get everything into working order.

But the motivation’s not there. Much as I hate having the site broken, I’m satisfied enough with having the front page render. I can wait another day to get comments and permalinks working. Besides, something more appropriate about rebooting everything on the Fourth of July — independence from the old coding. Or something.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/03/2021 02:36:05 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback