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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Clever enough to surf the web

There is some truth here. Many Internet users believe that with the event of search engines, such as Google, it is easy to find anything you want on the web. And since it has been published on the web, it must be true. The danger is that critical thinking might be left behind. Put a great name to something and it becomes true. Put a logo to anything, and it must be true, because it looks so impressive.

So now we get tests for students to find out, how savvy they are with the results they are getting. "Sample questions include giving students a simulated page of Web search results on a particular subject and asking students to pick the legitimate sources. So, a question on bee sting remedies presents a choice of sites ranging from ads to a forum for herb treatments to (the correct answer) a listing from the National Institutes of Health, identifiable by having "nih" in the URL (site address) along with the ".gov" suffix that connotes an official government listing." And since it comes from established institutions such as California State University, it must be right. They must know!!

Still, I wonder what is the difference to a bookshop? When I go to a bookshop to buy a book, do I believe that everything I read is true? Or, what about newspapers and magazines? Just because it is published doesn't mean it is true. This is common awareness, isn't it? So, actually, what do we need a test for? At least not here, in Asia, where students appear to be pretty smart already.

(By Asia Business Consulting)