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I have just finished reading a thought-provoking article from the American Psychological Association regarding research into whether internet searching makes us feel smarter than we truly are.
It would seem that it does! Apparently the research would suggest that we gain an inflated sense of our own knowledge, even when we don’t find the answer to what we’re looking for, after the physical act of searching the internet. However, it appears this is not the case when researchers provided the link to a website to enable subjects to answer specific questions. It is the act of searching that makes us feel all-knowing.
Lead researcher Matthew Fisher suggests that as a result of the act of reading a book or talking with an expert we are more engaged in the research process than when we are searching the internet and so it becomes apparent to us when we have gaps in our knowledge. This then leads us to investigate further to find the answer. “With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”
So what are the implications of this on education and our future generations? And will it become more obvious as our current crop of young people who seem surgically connected to their smart phones become adults?
My initial thoughts are that we need to be designing lessons that require a level of critical thinking that demands our students to engage with the material they find, and that we should not be too quick to physically or mentally throw out our non-fiction collections.
We also need to continue to engage in learning conversations with our students as well as encourage those conversations to take place between peers, and demand not only reasoned and cited answers to questions but that further questions need to be asked in the quest for new knowledge.
It could become a dangerous world indeed when decisions are being made by people who think they know everything, but in fact know very little at all.