Definition: being able to find information about something by using the search engine Google.
That’s a Googleable question. Questions that are “googleable” can be answered by simply doing a Google search. Ask a question, the student types it into Google and bingo – the answer.
Where do you stand with “googleable questions?” Googleable assignments? Appropriate, inappropriate, or it depends?
If it’s me, I want kids on Google. All the time. Here’s my thinking:
If a teacher only asks fact-based questions, and that’s as far as kids are asked to go, then I would think that’s not enough. If it’s a question that provides information that is valuable in the larger context of developing an answer to a more challenging question, then I would think that would be appropriate.
With the explosion of ubiquitous technology in the hands of students that provide unlimited access to information, how questions are framed, and by whom, can contribute to a shift in the student learning experience.
How questions are asked set the stage for learning that is based in inquiry and critical and creative thought.
Here are two scenarios:
I might ask a group of science students to determine the methodologies for preventing the spread of Asian Carp into Lake Michigan. That’s Googleable and the answer is a list. Go to Google, find the strategies, put them in a list, and bingo, assignment completed. That’s not enough.
But tweaking that question to ask students to determine the plan that would most likely result in stopping the Asian carp migration, and by requiring that the plan can only have two strategies, still requires the students to develop the list, but challenges them to select the strategies that most likely would work, and most importantly, justify why.
In this scenario, Google is used to answer the foundation questions that provide the raw information required to answer the essential question. Getting to the larger question requires a synthesis of the information from the “Googleable questions.”
It’s also important to realize that answering Googleable questions can also help develop information literacy. Students need to be able to locate information, cross-reference it, understand if it comes from a creditable source, and learn how to curate it, cite it and share it.
And I want kids to use Google in traditional classroom settings like lecture. Fact-checking, or doing a “second screen” type of thing that engages them more than just taking notes. As a teacher, could you develop “googleable instances” within a lecture that deepen content understanding, challenges them in a different way, perhaps create a shared resource on the topic, or something that adds value to the lecture experience?
Teachers have always asked kids “Googleable questions.” Instead of Google it was the textbook or the lecture notes that were used as a source of information to answer the questions. These types of questions have their place in learning. And good teachers have always gone beyond the simple question and challenged learners on a different plane with a deeper question. That’s part of what makes them good teachers.
Of course, the next step in all of this is to find ways to create a student learning experience where students ask their own questions and follow their own learning path, even through a course’s curriculum, and are encouraged to develop and answer questions of merit associated with their own learning passions, using all the tools and resources at their disposal.
Hat tip to Eric Hileman for the video in this post.
Additional resources and perspectives:
Doug Johnson | To Make it Google-proof, make it personal
Ewan McIntosh | Googleable or Non-Googleable?