To Teach or to Google That is the Question

This week in my ECI 830 class we had two more amazing debates. The first one raised the question about what do students need to know vs. why not just google it. Do students really need to retain different information teachers ask them to or can they just rely simply on technology to access that knowledge for them?

Photo Credit: nikobogio via Compfight cc

The two sides gave very valid points and supported their points with some fantastic information. I want to discuss two of them. The first article is by Terry Heicks How Google Impacts the Way Students Think. This article suggests that the fact that any question that can be asked can simply be googled is not a good thing. Google is changing the way students think by giving the myth of accessibility. When we have a question we all to often “google it” and Voila answer appears sometimes even before we hit the enter key. But, what happens when google doesn’t give us the answer we want or doesn’t have the answer at all? What happens when after our first search nothing appears? What if google brings up a non-creditable website and the answer given is wrong?



Many people simply stop looking. There are many answers that google can teach us but, not all. This is important for all students to know. Hiecks also discusses how once we find an answer on google we stop the search. We are programming students brains to find the answer to the initial question, then to stop. Teachers should be encouraging inquiry, to build on the curiosity of students. In one video  about the internet changing us, it even goes as far to say that Google is becoming a humans external hard drive. No need to keep anything memorized because it is all available with a few touches of ones fingers. There is no reason to be curious about anything, after we can find  “all the answers” whenever we choose. Is this detrimental to our brain development? Are we really teaching students to simply google everything and store nothing in their own heads? Or is this just evaluation in a new form? 

I think that it is important to teach skills that students will need to be “successful” (whatever that means) in life. I think that one key skill is how to google things. Students should be taught how to research different topics about themselves and the world around them. If they cannot use the technology at their fingertips how are they going to achieve their goals? I think it is important to also teach students to critically think about what information they are taking in, where it is being accessed from, and what the use of that information. But to do this there are many skills a student needs to know first and needs to know well. Teaching students to a mastery level in things like reading and math can make accessing google more meaningful and insightful. If for example, ones reading level is lower than critically analyzing the information they are accessing from google is going to be very difficult. Not all websites can be read by the computer aloud. The mastery of this basic information can also be beneficial. An article by William R. Klemm Memorization is not a Dirty Word. Goes as far to tell us that if we can achieve this automaticity or mastery it can actually grow our brains into taking in more information. But again what do students really need to know?

This leads me to think back to my ECI 831 class I took last semester where we discussed the difference between knowledgeable vs. knowledge-able.


This debate really challenged my thinking on what I am teaching my students. Is that something they need to know? Do I have a choice in what I teach my students? Or can I simply teach them the curriculum in a way that teaches them skills for life?

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3 Responses to To Teach or to Google That is the Question

  1. chalynsmith says:

    Kayla, great point about programming students brains to find the answer to the initial question, then to stop. you are right good teachers should be encouraging inquiry, to build on the curiosity of the magnificent students. I think the curriculum needs an injection of creativity and technology so that it can teach the skills needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very good video! It is important that all teachers understand that standing in front of the room as an authority figure and spewing out facts and information is clearly not working well, as the video clearly represents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mskbrodner says:

      Its so true. The idea that teachers have the knowledge and student’s jobs are simply to absorb it is silly. The crazy thing to think about is that for many teachers is what they know and under stress resort back to simply that.


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