Monday, August 5, 2013

Is this a Googleable or a Non-Googleable Question?

Today, I stumbled across Tom Barrett's website and discovered an amazing learning activity that every teacher can facilitate in his or her classroom.  The activity is called "Googleable vs. Non-Googleable Questions".  The description from the website is below:

"Every topic, every bit of learning has content that can be Googled, and we don't want teachers wasting precious enquiry time lecturing that content. We want students, instead, to be using class time to collaborate and debate around the questions that are Not Googleable, the rich higher order thinking to which neither the textbook nor the teacher know the answers. Explore how you can make a simple switch with a powerful effect."

This idea is so simple, yet genius.  However, I do think that there needs to be a balance of Googleable Questions vs. Non-Googleable Questions.  This is very similar to the scientific process: "The more questions you have, the more you know ... and the more you know, the more questions you have."  It is important for students to first know enough about a topic, before they can begin to attempt to answer the really difficult questions.

On the other hand, students might be able to ask the really challenging (Non-Googleable) questions first, but then will need to find answers to the Googleable questions that will help them in their journey of answering the Non-Googleable Questions.

I also agree that students should not have to "memorize" or "recall" trivial facts that are easily Googleable.  Rather, they should ask questions, and learn the information in a context that is meaningful to each of them.  I agree, class time should not be wasted "memorizing" these trivial facts, especially when the teacher provides these facts to the students directly, or indirectly via textbooks.  Rather, students should research using the resources and tools of their choice, in order to learn more about the topics that are discussed in class.

Final Thought

Does this inquiry-based teaching strategy actually improve students' critical thinking skills and promote life-long learning?  I wonder if this would be a Googleable or a Non-Googleable question ....

You might also like

Closed v. Open Systems of Knowing
Why Do I Have to Memorize This When I Can Just Google It?
Inquiring About Inquiry
The Simplest and Most Powerful Learning Strategy

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