Saturday, September 4, 2010

How the Internet is Making us Stupid

Okay I admit it I love a provocative title for a blog entry. But I must admit it wasn't mine. This one is the title of an article I ran across the other day How the Internet is Making us Stupid.

In short this article could probably be summarized as too much information leads to the loss of the ability to focus on deeper thought, and we the scientists are deeply concerned.

What amazes me is that any teacher that has used the web for classroom activities could have probably have saved the researchers a lot of money and time because we have all seen this firsthand. I remember when I first started running webquest activities, I would watch the students skim webpages so fast that they would miss the reason I wanted them to visit. When they couldn't find the answer to a question I had posed in the first few lines of the page, they were off to Google searching for the question directly. It was really frustrating trying to figure out a way to "Google Proof" my questions so that they would have to take some time and read through the sites I had given them to construct an answer (rather than copy it).

Now this post isn't just a vent session or a told you so post, but more of a reflection on and issue we as Global Learners need to be able to confront. We have to make the commitment to use technology in a way that will foster the deeper thought we hope our students develop. We have to make sure that our activities have a focus and target and are not just another way to waste time on the internet and look engaged. We have to use our developing skills to foster intellectual development, rather than to just reinforce mental "laziness".

The final paragraph of the article scares me somewhat so with that I will end my post as it speaks for itself

The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively. What’s disturbing is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify information for further study, it’s becoming an end in itself — our preferred method of both learning and analysis. Dazzled by the net’s treasures, we have been blind to the damage we may be doing to our intellectual lives and even our culture.


Jon Fisher said...

That was a good article. Thanks for sharing it. One way to hold students accountable might be to have them screen capture the text or the page where the information is found and highlight it. I am still struggling to get my 2nd graders to infer from the text and it is a skill that requires deep reading and the ability to identify the supporting information in the text.

Kelly Berry said...

Thanks for the article Jim. I know what you mean about technology seeming like a way to look engaged. Using our T4S model, we need to ensure we give our students the proper "I do" and follow it with a strong "we do". When you are ready to venture into a webquest, let me know. We can co-plan and co-teach!