Professor Brabazon of the University of Brighton is doing her best to break student dependency of the ‘University of Google’, that is trusting the first result in Google or the perceived authority of Wikipedia as a credible source for research. To encourage her students to revert back to traditional research measures, Brabazon has banned the use of Wikipedia or Google as a research tool for her first year students.
“I call this type of education ‘the University of Google’. Google offers easy answers to difficult questions. But students do not know how to tell if they come from serious, refereed work or are merely composed of shallow ideas, superficial surfing and fleeting commitments,” Brabazon told the Times Online, adding that “Google is filling, but it does not necessarily offer nutritional content.”
Brabazon feels that teachers and professors need to better educate their students on how to use search engines and web properties as research tools, based upon the pillars of critical thinking, and not as an easy way to ‘copy and paste’ the answers of life.
How does she do this? The old fashioned way, by providing students with extracts from text reviewed by scholastic peers.
With search engines like Google and Ask.com reaching out to Kindergarten thru High School librarians and teachers to use their services as research tools in the classroom, the blame can be as much placed on school superintendents as the search engines.
Sure, product placement of Google as the alternative to the Dewey Decimal System in the school is not as bad as Coca Cola machines replacing milk, as the use of search engines should compliment existing study and research habits; not replace them. In such respect, the responsibility falls on all parties involved.