"For the Google generation, what happens to the concepts of truth and
knowledge in a user-generated world of information saturation?"
Monica Hesse, Washington Post reporter, takes a fascinating look at how we view the truth in an age when information is readily available and abundant.
The discussion of knowledge vs information is also interesting. "Information has replaced knowledge," says author Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto, quoted in the article. He says information is about crumbs of data, while knowledge is knowing what to do with accumulated information. What worries people (teachers, included) is that students are now information gatherers but not critical thinkers.
"That’s the most profound change," said Corbin Lyday, professor at George Washington University about many of his students compared to 30 years ago. "The way they manage information. There’s a growing impatience and a real passivity."
Also, people are too easily convinced that the information is correct and true and "use information to reinforce their own beliefs," Hesse says in the article, listing as an example the 9,000 hits in Google for "The moon landing was staged."
We at FA are also trying to navigate through these muddy waters as we work with our students. But it becomes even harder when we consider that research says, "we believe what we want to believe."
"People are very insensitive to where they hear things," says Norbert Schwarz, a University of Michigan
psychologist who worked on the study. If one quack repeats the same
piece of information to you five times, it’s nearly as effective as
hearing the sound bite from five different reputable sources.
Same goes for reading e-mails — if you get three spam e-mails
relating Abraham Lincoln’s folksy wisdom about truth and dogs, you’ll
eventually believe it as strongly as if you heard it from the reference
desk at the Lincoln Library.
"The basic psychological process is the same" as it’s always been,
Schwarz says. "But in the olden days you might have seen something once
in your newspaper . . . now the likelihood that you’ll see it again and
again and again" — on blogs, in your inbox, on YouTube — has
All of this, of course, reinforces the need for our students to participate in the discussions of their learning. And is makes me realize how complicated teaching has become.
Beginning with Sheryl’s 9 principles for implementation in this shift is an excellent start. As Sheryl says, "it’s not business as usual."
Image: ‘need to know basis‘