Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Myth of the Google Generation

Do you believe in the Myth that kids know more about the Internet than you do? Many educators seem to assume that the current generation of ‘net-savy’ kids know what they are doing when it comes to internet based research. Now, scientific research has established what many of us have known all along: today’s kids don’t have a clue about how to find information online.

It was this insight that lead Dr. Carl Heine of the 21st Century Information Fluency project to call the net-generation, the Untaught Generation. In his series of articles: Five Things Today’s Digital Generation Cannot Do (and what you can do to help) Dr. Heine explains the skills today’s students need.

The following information was originally published by The Resource Shelf under the title The Google Generation is a Myth.

“A new report, commissioned by JISC and the British Library, counters the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ – young people born or brought up in the Internet age – is the most adept at using the web. The report by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to asses the information that they find on the web.”

Here is a link to a 35 page pdf of the full report: ‘Information Behavior of the Researcher of the Future’ 35 pages; PDF) Key findings are summarized by this telling statement: “…traits that are commonly associated with younger users – impatience in search and navigation, and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs – are now the norm for all age-groups, from younger pupils and undergraduates through to professors.” (Italics ours.)

We all know that vital 21st century skills like information literacy and information fluency have been elbowed out of the way by the drill and fill demands of a test pressured curriculum. Let’s hope the nation collectively wakes up to the realities that today’s kids (and educators) are in desperate need of training in the critical thinking skills needed to search, evaluate, and ethically use digital information.

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