The Great EdTech Debate 3: Victor v.s. Thunderbird

Our third round of “The Great EdTech Debate,” was focused on whether or not schools should teach things that can be googled. Victor argued the pro side – Schools should not teach things that can be googled, and Thunderbird disagreed. Victor argued that teachers should not focus on basic skills as it encourages “quick answers.” Instead, students should be active learners and develop deep understandings of concepts instead of rote memorization of basic facts. He also argued that students now have the ability to “check” their answers online anyways. Victor also mentioned Bloom’s Taxonomy which suggests students need to be given the opportunity to create. Erica Swallow, a contributor to agrees with this; “Innovative learning cultures teach about creating, not consuming.” 

On the other hand, Thunderbird argued that schools should not only be teaching things that can be googled but should be teaching with google. She argued that allowing students to find information accurately and quickly on the world-wide-web, schools are developing their research skills.

google-chrome“google-chrome” by EJeffson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Although both debaters made excellent points for their corresponding arguments, our class discussion slightly veered into different areas of the debate. Victor’s statements about basic skills and quick answers led us into a heated discussion about the importance (or not) of the memorization of multiplication tables. This article from the Edmonton Journal argues that this focus on memorizing the times tables communicates to children that math is hard and math is to be memorized, not understood. However, Darrian pushed against this idea in class stating that these basic math skills are necessary for students to develop a rich understanding of numeracy. However, I wonder if this process of memorization seems to kill students’ interest in math then will it not destroy the chance of the student to ever develop a deep understanding of mathematical concepts?

Further, we discussed what might be some of the implications if schools were to stop teaching things that can be googled. How would university courses change? What would be left to teach if most things can be googled? One important argument, brought up by Meg, was the fact that not all students can or will want to google the information that is no longer taught. What kind of disadvantages or challenges would that bring for those students?

Overall, I found this debate one of the most interesting ones we have had since it led us into so many directions. It seemed as though it ended with more questions than answers which is not always a bad thing.


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