Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Online Research Worries Many Educators

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

NEW YORK - Go to Google, search and scroll results, click and copy. When students do research online these days, many educators worry, those are often about the only steps they take. If they can avoid a trip to the library at all, many students gladly will.

Young people may know that just because information is plentiful online doesn't mean it's reliable, yet their perceptions of what's trustworthy frequently differ from their elders' — sparking a larger debate about what constitutes truth in the Internet age.

Georgia Tech professor Amy Bruckman tried to force students to leave their computers by requiring at least one book for a September class project.

She wasn't prepared for the response: "Someone raised their hand and asked, "Excuse me, where would I get a book?'" [...]

Sadly, it's a little too true, and I have first hand knowledge of the phenomenon.

Middle Girl has been assigned to write a paper about various forms of dance for PE. She went to the library the other day and got a stack of books, and we have a set of World Book encyclopedias--basically plenty of stuff to plagiarize, IF she would be so energetic.


::sigh:: "Yes? Have you gotten your paper written?"

"No, I need you to find something on the computer for me about dance."

"What about all the books we got from the library about DANCE?"

::shoulder shrug::

"Have you even LOOKED at them?!"

::shoulder shrug::

"GO READ YOUR BOOKS FIRST. If you can't figure it out from a book, you're NOT going to find anything on the Internet!"

::stalk off sullenly::

Only to return several hours later--"Dadddddy? I can't find anything about the origin of jazz dance in this book. Can we look on the Internet now?"

It was a book about modern jazz dance. I opened the book to the introduction. I read down the page, then over to the next. "Jazz dance had its beginnings, etc...." Two long paragraphs charting the birth, growth and maturity of the exercise. "Rebecca--LOOK AT THESE TWO PARAGRAPHS!"


I don't know what they must think the Internet is. Part of their problem (it's not just her--all of our kids do variations of it) is that they tell Reba they need to get on the Internet, and she's about as bad as they are. One of her class books for this semester came with a CD that had some information, but nothing that you could glean just as well from the book. Yet, she was constantly wanting ME (Mr. Computer Illiterate) to see if there was something on the disc that she could use. Obviously, I didn't tell her to just go read the book, but I was tempted.

Part of it may just be the lure that you will immediately find exactly what you want, even if you only have the vaguest of ideas about what it might be. But you have to have some pretty firm idea about the information you're looking for, and you still have to be able to read it. They also seem to think that information online is somehow better than just reading it out of a book. That might be okay (marginally) if you write a blog that's intended to be light entertainment, but in the end, real research still takes time and effort.

And books.

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