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Intelligence in the age of Google


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Does search destroy learning?

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Intelligence in the age of Google

  1. 1. John Koetsier – UBC Tweeting? Use hashtag: #ace2009 Intelligence in the Age of Google
  2. 2. Who said this … <ul><li>&quot;People who invent new technologies are not the best judges of their usefulness and value. Your invention will not help people to get smarter and learn more; it will in fact cause the exact opposite … they will forget more and learn less. </li></ul>
  3. 3. … and this? <ul><li>“ You have not invented a better memory but just a way to search for ideas. And the students who use your invention will not in fact acquire real-world knowledge but rather data. They will think they know much when in fact they are incredibly ignorant.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. An ancient king of Egypt, of course <ul><li>Thamus </li></ul><ul><li>… the king of a city in Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>… according to Socrates </li></ul><ul><li>… 2500 years ago </li></ul><ul><li>… telling the god Theuth what he thought of Theuth’s invention of writing </li></ul>
  5. 5. What he actually said … <ul><li>Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of by their own internal resources. What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. And as for wisdom, your pupils will have the reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is intelligence? <ul><li>In ancient Greece? </li></ul><ul><li>In medieval times </li></ul><ul><li>In the 19 th (and 20 th ) centuries? </li></ul><ul><li>Today? </li></ul>
  7. 7. What is intelligence? <ul><li>1800s … Francis Galton … measured head size </li></ul><ul><li>1900s … Alfred Binet: intelligence is not a single thing; it's many </li></ul>
  8. 8. What is intelligence? <ul><li>1993 – Gardner: Multiple Intelligences </li></ul><ul><li>Problem solving (including the ability to create new problems: creativity) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Linguistic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logical-mathematical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spatial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Musical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bodily-kinesthetic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpersonal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intrapersonal </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. What is intelligence? <ul><li>Going to settle on problem-solving: the ability to get stuff done. </li></ul><ul><li>(And dream up new stuff to do.) </li></ul>
  10. 10. The web effect? <ul><li>Nicholas Carr: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily about the web in general </li></ul><ul><li>Immediacy, brevity, distractions </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces our ability to focus, to concentrate … reduces our capacity for “deep reading” </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Google effect? <ul><li>But it’s more than just the web </li></ul><ul><li>Significantly good search & retrieval changes our orientation to data … and knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Which may be inimical to “deep learning” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Does Google make us think … <ul><li>Everything has an answer? </li></ul><ul><li>All answers are knowable … and easily findable ? </li></ul><ul><li>All answers should come quickly as long as I search with the right words? </li></ul>
  13. 13. In other words … <ul><li>Does Google make us less dependent on our own thinking and more willing to be dependent on the thinking of others? </li></ul>
  14. 14. A teacher’s perspective <ul><li>&quot;Since Google, students need an answer quickly, so they don't know how to use a glossary or index. They want something right away, and to look back to a previous paragraph is too much effort.&quot; </li></ul>
  15. 15. A teacher’s perspective <ul><li>&quot;At times it may end up giving people a real quick fix to a problem and they may not be actually forced to think it through.&quot; </li></ul>
  16. 16. What’s he saying? <ul><li>Students are seeking quick answers that others have created – received wisdom, in other words </li></ul><ul><li>Why scan or re-read a text when you can get a machine to do it for you? </li></ul><ul><li>… this is a serious challenge to an education system </li></ul>
  17. 17. Losing the ability to read <ul><li>Bruce Friedman: pathologist, educator </li></ul><ul><li>R ecently confessed that he has now “almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print.&quot; </li></ul>
  18. 18. What’s going on? <ul><li>Knowledge about vs knowledge how (Bencze and Bowen) </li></ul><ul><li>Does Google privilege about ? </li></ul><ul><li>Media are not neutral … </li></ul><ul><li>Also … nature of the web: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Links </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Short </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abundance </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Is it really all that bad? <ul><li>Perhaps technology and media are helping us to “transcend boundaries in thinking, working, learning” by harnessing &quot;distributed intelligence&quot; (Fischer and Konomi) </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe blogs are more important than formal certificates, and immersive social games will become the textbook (Tuomi) </li></ul>
  20. 20. And Google does help us … <ul><li>Google can marked improve our ability to get things done and solve problems … one of the key factors in intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>… by helping us quickly find: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the one fact we need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the range of possible options </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Integration is the key? <ul><li>The key thing is likely the need to integrate new capabilities with old skills </li></ul><ul><li>A teacher I interviewed: &quot;We're all tempted to take the path of least resistance,” he said, but we need to be able to use all kinds of resources, including print, and be able to work from first principles to more complex knowledge. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Multi-literate <ul><li>Researchers are talking about &quot;emerging multiliteracies in a connected, web2.0 world&quot; (Alexander, 2009). </li></ul><ul><li>Not just reading anymore … but also reading, still </li></ul><ul><li>And information consumption … synthesis … creation skills: “media literacy” </li></ul>
  23. 23. Danger of the Oracle <ul><li>Even with media literacy … </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t uncritically rely on modern oracles … getting the answer “for free” </li></ul><ul><li>Instant search and retrieval is not intelligence; it is fuel for intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>That fuel can be utilized and harnessed with 21st century skills … but not at the cost of some very basic 20th century skills. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Just one example … <ul><li>Math skills: without a solid grasp of math fundamentals, the higher orders of mathematical thinking are forever closed to people, regardless of how many Google searches they do (Lee, Stansbery, Kubina, Wannarka, 2005). </li></ul><ul><li>Deep knowledge is needed to free up short-term memory slots. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Synthesis <ul><li>We need 21 st century skills ... without losing 20 th century smarts </li></ul><ul><li>Without the 21st Century skills, we will not be able to cope with the never-ending datastream. </li></ul><ul><li>Without the 20th century smarts, we will not be able to do more than parrot, and sometimes rearrange, ideas that others thought before us. </li></ul>
  26. 26. John Koetsier – UBC Slides available at Intelligence in the Age of Google