The Oracle of Google

April 27, 2007 at 10:54 pm 1 comment

My son was doing his homework in front of the computer, filling out a fill-in-the-blank sort of worksheet.

He was asking Google to finish his homework for him:

what is the distance from the  earth to the sun

list the planets from largest to smallest

In the first case, the snippets in the list of search results were enough to answer the question with an adequate degree of confidence.  In the latter, the choice of one click out of several brought you to a table where you could ferret out the answer.

No book was cracked, no memory strained.  But how are the kids tested?  Are they tested on rote memory or on their skill in crafting a good question for the oracle.

If a student can find the answer to any question of the “rote memory type” in a few seconds, why should they spend any time trying to memorize it?  They should spend their time learning how to ensure they’re asking the right questions and deciding how to separate the good hits from the bad.

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Entry filed under: information literacy.

Checklists for Life The Failings of the Oracle

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