The debate rages about the intellectual collage today’s computer-privileged students make of information: they cut and paste and mash, but often don’t create their own primary documents. In light of that, and concerns about empowering African students in ways that will upset the social order of their families by providing children with information their parents lack, there are voices rising against the One Laptop Per Child efforts in Africa. These opinions raised several questions in my head.
First, is it right to deprive a generation of information? Whose lives are they anyway? Second, does it ever work to try to keep information or tools from people? Here is a version of the alleged down side:
Right away, it is possible to suggest that inquiry-based learning is independent of a specific technology. In fact, computers and internet access guarantee little in the way of critical thinking. In a new program, children in New York City are taught inquiry-based methods of interacting with IT-based data by school librarian media specialists, who promote critical thinking and an ability to evaluate information as an antidote to the rising tide of a ‘cut-and-paste’ mentality. In other words, by many measures access to IT has had a stultifying effect on independent thinking. Instead of real research and evaluation most students are happy just to ‘google it.’
But listen carefully to this interview in which, ironically, a guy who collects odd, old outdated books puts it all together: the internet, the mash up, the way knowledge moves through history.