"Googling it" is Harming our Students

Let me be honest. I am a librarian, and I love Google. It is my go-to for pop culture, maps, and fun facts. Search tricks and features, like roll dice or flip a coin, make using Google efficient and effective for many tasks. It has been years since I purposely used anything other than Google Apps for creating, storing, and sharing. Not a day goes by that I do not use google in some way, but "googling it" is harming our students.

I grew up in a time before the world wide web was in everyone's pocket or purse. In high school I spent hours flipping through magazines and books in the school library for the latest information. Since I participated in UIL Debate, I practically lived in the library.

By the time I started teaching, the internet was a big deal. In addition to the school library, there were computer labs for classes to use for projects and research. I will shamefully admit that I took my speech students to the computer lab for research. And I told them to google it! As schools have adopted BYOD or 1-to-1 initiatives, web searching has become the primary source for research.

We are raising a generation of students who do not remember a time before computers, tablets, and smartphones. They can YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and tweet. They have had access to technology for their whole lives, but most are ignorant on how to use that technology for academic purposes. 

This is where librarians are invaluable!

1. Librarians teach copyright - Not everything on the internet is free! Several years ago, my son came to me with an awesome project. It was full of great pictures, and I asked where he got them. His answer, "Google." Students need to know how to search for and use creative commons licensing as well as learn how to attribute works to the owner. Plagiarism and copyright infringement is a big deal in higher education and the work force. Let's not set our students up for trouble by not teaching them these skills.

2. Librarians teach research skills an information literacy - Who knows how to search? Use Boolean search? Search databases for academic content? What is good and what is junk on the internet? Your librarian! Just typing a question into Google will bring back results, but they may not be what you need. Besides, college professors will laugh when a student turns in a research paper crediting Wikipedia as a source. Research is a skill. It has to be taught. You have to know how to search, where to search, and what to search to find the most relevant, academic information.

3. Librarians teach digital citizenship - Thank goodness that I grew up in a time when what I did was not posted on social media for everyone to see. Whether students post it themselves or it is posted by others, your online presence has a huge impact on your life and future. That stupid thing you posted because you thought it was funny can cost you friends, college admissions, jobs, and respect. 

Librarians are there to be your collaborative instructional partners. Ask them for their help. Work as a team to help prepare our students for the future.


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