GUEST POST from Mike Reading (@mikereading) www.teacherstraining.com.au
“I came across this short TED Talk yesterday. The premise is that Google and Facebook are now tailoring your internet experience by learning what you like and the types of links you follow and then only showing you more of the same.
There is a great screen shot of two identical search queries resulting in two very different search results.
My two favourite bits are found at:
2:15 – how Google personally tailors your results at 2:55 they show you the screen shots
3:40 “The internet is showing us a world we want to see not what we need to see”
So what are the implications on education?
Watch the video and I will give my thoughts below.
Here are a couple of implications:
If we tell our students to search for a certain topic or principle they might not all get the same answer. This could be a problem if you want each of your students to have access to the same content.
Our students are not being exposed to the wealth of information available but potentially only one perspective. Similarly they potentially will not have access to all the information for or against an argument, thus limiting their world view.
One of my passions is producing well rounded students who are able to read and discern the material in front of them. This just took on a whole new meaning. Now they will need to ask themselves is this the total picture?
One a positive side, if we are aware of this as teachers we can be talking the students about the issues that this can present not just in school but also in the ‘real world’.
Is it something to be overly concerned about? I’m not sure. It is something that I will be aware of and monitor in the future.
What are your thoughts?”
Some of us remember the old days when information was a product which was sold in books, packaged in libraries with limited access or kept from us by governments and organisations. Information on education was also mediated by publishers and by academic institutions which used journal publishing both for profit and to circumscribe the wider dissemination of information. In other words, there never was a golden age.The personalisation of information is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe you do want UK sources for some searches, for example. Maybe you would like schoolchildren to be protected from adult content when they are searching. And, it isn’t actually unhelpful to get a sidebar on the Google page when you are looking for something specific.Education is typically stuck in the past. Go listen to a secondary history teacher talking about sources and their uses and you’ll hear complete twaddle. See how textbooks continually frame issues and subject knowledge in the same way. Primary children still get taught that there are solids, liquids and gases and eat their lunch out of plastic containers. There are a lot of facts in the national curriculum which are not really facts at all and when it comes to seeking new information I hear a lot of teachers saying that the films of Romeo and Juliet or Of Mice and Men are not the true story as if the way they read a Shakespeare script in class is more authentic.Education ought to be teaching children how to use searching and social networking, how to be critical readers, how to spot the consensual clues which suggests the presence of knowledge and how to co-construct new learning for themselves. That is a big task but, by and large, Google makes it easier.