Via Espen Anderson, I found this report about a recent study that seems to confirm some of my arguments in the talk I gave a month or so ago at Fleksibel lÊring, where I argued that young university students are far less digitally literate than we assume:

A new study overturns the common assumption that the ëGoogle Generation’ ñ youngsters born or brought up in the Internet age ñ is the most web-literate. The first ever virtual longitudinal study carried out by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, they rely heavily on search engines, view rather than read and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web.

There’s also a Slashdot discussion about the article.

Espen’s daughter’s homework apparently, at least on some days, consists largely of searching for answers on Google. We teachers certainly have a lot of challenges in figuring out how to help students not only learn to find information but learn those critical and analytical skills that do not come automatically.

3 thoughts on “google generation lacks critical and analytical skills needed to assess information

  1. Christy

    Oh yeah, part of the problem (in Australia at least) is that secondary schools and universities often have policies where they don’t let students refer to the web in their essays. So rather than teaching students what is good to refer to and why, a lot of educators are giving them no guidance at all. Part of the problem here is that many of the educators don’t know how to discern content on the web either!

    The same issue has been raised with ‘alternate reality games’. ARG players are skilled at being able to discern a fake site from a real one…that is one of the reasons why many educators are looking to create mini ARGs to teach these skills. But in large scale ARGs, the designers have found that if it is directed to the general public first, they think the game is a hoax. But if directed to the ARGers first, they know it isn’t a hoax. They then create content that describes it as a game and it ripples out to the general public who receive it already digested for them.

    Just some thoughts to add as this topic is an issue in my work too! Have fun in Chicago and say hi to Scott. Love the baby widget by the way. 🙂

  2. Christy

    Oh yeah, part of the problem (in Australia at least) is that secondary schools and universities often have policies where they don’t let students refer to the web in their essays. So rather than teaching students what is good to refer to and why, a lot of educators are giving them no guidance at all. Part of the problem here is that many of the educators don’t know how to discern content on the web either!

    The same issue has been raised with ‘alternate reality games’. ARG players are skilled at being able to discern a fake site from a real one…that is one of the reasons why many educators are looking to create mini ARGs to teach these skills. But in large scale ARGs, the designers have found that if it is directed to the general public first, they think the game is a hoax. But if directed to the ARGers first, they know it isn’t a hoax. They then create content that describes it as a game and it ripples out to the general public who receive it already digested for them.

    Just some thoughts to add as this topic is an issue in my work too! Have fun in Chicago and say hi to Scott. Love the baby widget by the way. 🙂

  3. Espen Andersen

    Jill,
    thanks for picking this up – we really need to get in touch the next time I am in Bergen.

    As for Google and homework, I am more concerned with the lack of context than where the text comes from….

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