Web Development

Lecturer bans Google and Wikipedia from classroom

Professor Tara Brabazon from the University at Brighton had enough of "copy-and-paste" type essays and announced a ban on the usage of Google and Wikipedia in her classroom.

Professor Tara Brabazon from the University at Brighton had enough of "copy-and-paste" type essays and announced a ban on the usage of Google and Wikipedia in her classroom.

An excerpt from SearchEngineLand:

She said using Google and Wikipedia doesn't encourage students to use their "own brains" enough. She added:

I want students to sit down and read. It's not the same when you read it online. I want them to experience the pages and the print as much as the digitization and the pixels. Both are fine, but I want them to have both, not one or the other, not a cheap solution.

Also, she will be giving a lecture on 16th of this month titled, "Google Is White Bread For The Mind."

The point she raises is relevant, because Google is becoming a substitute for genuine research. However, students do gain a lot from perusing that information itself.

Of course, students have to be made aware that just having information available at the click of a mouse does not qualify it as genuine. The zero barrier to information creation on the Web does call for greater introspection from the side of the researcher.

A blanket ban does not really help assert the real message. Google is but a messenger, and several alternatives exist (Yahoo, Ask, Mahalo, Cha-cha, Wisenut, Live, and many more).

How can we drive down the message of greater research more constructively?

79 comments
Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]She said using Google and Wikipedia doesn't encourage students to use their "own brains" enough. She added: "I want students to sit down and read. It's not the same when you read it online. I want them to experience the pages and the print as much as the digitisation and the pixels. Both are fine but I want them to have both, not one or the other, not a cheap solution." In fact, she is giving a lecture on her opinion of Google in the classroom. She named the lecture "Google Is White Bread For The Mind." You can hear it for yourself at the University of Brighton at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Grand Parade, Brighton, on Wednesday at 6.30 pm.[/i] Neither Google nor Wikipedia are authoritative, nor conform to APA, MLA or any other academic standards for citation. Neither claims to be sufficient for more than an intro to any topic, less complete than "??? 101" in American nomenclature. Why bother asserting specifically that "using Google and Wikipedia doesn't encourage students to use their 'own brains' enough?" Academically, that seems to ignore or dismiss the universal requirement to provide [u]verifiable[/u] sources in graded scholarly work. Hopefully, her rationale boils down to verifiability. I'd like to see the rest of her thoughts on the matter, but TR hasn't provided everything that professor said on this subject. I might have to Google her. ;-)

nighthawk808
nighthawk808

Whatever happened to "You cheat, you fail"? Oh, I forgot: the Republicans did away with that whole idea. Thanks, Mr. Rove.

b4real
b4real

Good for the professor. Besides that being a right that the prof reserves to establish as a class parameter - I too am guilty of knowledge by search result. I am 7 years out of college myself, but can only imagine how the 'kids' are crutched on search results. Much less now probably every classroom has a student with a laptop at all times, and I can only imagine the distractions. Instant Messaging, cell phones, texting, general web distraction. All of these distractions are probably a big adaptation for academia. Probably more 'hard-line' changes forthcoming.

BBPellet
BBPellet

Personally I feel her students should drop her class, I would. It is a valuable research tool and as long as you proper site your sources, you should be able to use what ever tools you can. She needs to get with the times, BOOKS are going the way of the do-do bird!

faradhi
faradhi

When I taught an IT class at a local community college one of the requirements to pass the class was a Paper and Presentation. If you missed either one then you failed. Further, I did not allow Wikipedia as a source. The students were required to have three sources and only ONE could be an online source. If you could not make it to the presentation class for any reason, you got an Incomplete until the next semester and had to present to my next class. As for copying and pasting. I failed many a student on either a paper or for the class for plagiarism. I would take off points for those who used a lot of direct quotes but cited properly. It does amaze me what lengths people would go to avoid the education they are paying for.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

The reality is that google is the jumping off point for most research. When I need to find something, I use a search engine. When I need to get an idea of what's out there, yup...a search engine. However, when I need to do research, then it's time to hit the library. I'd imagine most students should know this???

jdclyde
jdclyde

is to have the students give an oral report on the paper, WITHOUT the paper to read from and no notes. If they didn't learn anything from the paper, they will go down in flames, with the old crash-n-burn. If they KNOW they will be tested on the contents in such a manner, they WILL learn it. Why do people insist on making things more of a problem than they should be? Oh yeah, because the instructor is lazy.

normhaga
normhaga

We live in a world in which there are rapid advances in knowledge. Often the information that the educational establishment teaches us and our children is static rather than dynamic. While Google and Wikipedia often are incorrect, they have the advantage of being dynamic. Therefore, rather than banning online information sources, I would suggest teaching the users how to critically determine the accuracy and relevance of the information they find. The banning of technology for educational purposes IMHO shows a narrow minded approach that benefits only the teacher, etc., and not the student. The practice of banning technology does not benefit anyone! When I have a difficult math problem that I cannot solve by inspection I either fire up Maple, or reach into my desk drawer and grab my TI-89. As useful as the technologies are, they were banned up to Calculus 2430. Some of the instructors even banned simple four function calculators in the math classes. For what purpose I ask. When I need to solve a problem, I am interested in the solution, not the methodology. When I code, I often Google or go to online sources and determine how others may have resolved the problem. Then I write my solution which may or may not be based on the information from the online sources. Therefore, I suggest that rather than banning the online source the instructor, teacher, whatever, teach the student to determine the accuracy and relevancy of the information.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

that she's not really banning using search engines rather that she's banning using them as a reference. If that's the case it makes sense. There's no way to actually ban using search engines for research. It seems good to teach the students that the search engines are the beginning of research.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

I had a mathematics professor that banned calculators saying that the only way to truly learn calculus was by hand. Interestingly, before the semester was over he was taken out of class on a stretcher; he had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medication. The department head offered each of his students a withdrawal passing, to avoid lawsuits.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

It's one thing to use the web as a means of researching information, but to be a lazy moron of a student who does nothing more than copies and pastes the information from public sources amounts to plagiarism, plain and simple. If one will quote phrases from published work, regardless of the source, it needs to be footnoted and credited acordingly. What has happened to modern education? Have students gotten so lazy and careless that they've turned into copy and paste monkeys who simply regurgitate information instead of providing unique and creative work? I'm preaching to the choir here because the problem will not improve based on my observations.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

The point is that people Cut and Paste from Google or Wiki. I agree, teens have become LAZY as hell these days. Most won't even take time to research anything online, just C&P the first comment they find from Google or any other engine. When I went to school, we were not allowed to even rewrite someone else's words, it had to come from teh student after reading and understanding something. As for referring to sources, that's fine, but again that's a list of resources used to qualify your OWN remarks. Copying those sources directly teaches students NOTHING, NADA, SQUAT F-All etc. I see her point completely except I would suggest that instead of banning specific web resources, to have the student identify the source of research while reiterating what they found in their own words. This is one of the best ways to remember and learn things: read, remember and reiterate. [u]verifiable[/u] sources yes, copy and pasting someone else's work, not okay. It's no different that one kid writing a paper and everyone else just sending in copies of that paper...not exactly how I would want my own to learn.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

I certainly would hate to see this discussion turn into a democrat/republican mudslinging fest.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

because you hit the matter right on the head with the constant distractions of IM, Blackberries, text messages, cell phones, and whatever other useless junk is out there to create further distractions from a proper means of education.

Tig2
Tig2

The web is capable of providing a wide range of information but it is not the be-all and end-all. I do a great deal of reading in both forms. I would prefer that my students not forget the value and power of RESEARCH. I don't know that I would have chosen this form to try to encourage my students to seek out a book, but I would much rather that, when they turn something in, it is indicative of something that they LEARNED rather than something that they cobbled together. Books will not be dead as long as there are bifocals and the need for same.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Apparently, so are grammar and proper word use: [i]Personally I feel her students should drop her class, I would. It [/i](her class?)[i] is a valuable research tool and as long as you proper [/i](properly?)[i] site [/i](cite?)[i] your sources, you should be able to use what ever tools you can.[/i] Doh! Edit: formatting

normhaga
normhaga

try to curl up with a good computer?

faradhi
faradhi

it is a good start IF and only IF you confirm the facts with the sources offered. Further, I almost never used books for a research paper. Periodicals are often more timely and reliable. I think what the teacher was trying to do is force the students to follow the trail to a reliable source which is NOT wikipedia.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Does this mean I'm wasting time with cuneiform impressions?

Tig2
Tig2

And what they demonstrate the understanding of are two very different things. I had advanced English Lit students not only reading the book, but reading aloud. When we covered Shakespeare, they were assigned roles and we READ the play as a group. I can't make up my mind if this professor is being lazy or not. I honestly think that she is trying to instill discipline and for that she should be supported. I can see using Google for initial direction. I can't see it being the be all and end all research tool.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Again, it goes back to lazy teachers. If they require the sources be verified and sited, on-line is more likely to have current information. When people quote a stupid blog somewhere, it is useless as a source as far as research goes.

Antagonist
Antagonist

There are plenty of smart kids who will learn the material but have a problem speaking in public. So they should be penalized for doing the work just because they are shy or suffer from stage fright? Not so simple now is it?

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

and if they don't know squat about the information in their own papers, then it's clear that they plagiarized the entire thing and didn't care to learn anything. Instant F, next victim please :^0

santeewelding
santeewelding

Even calculator methodology as simple as multiplication is the methodology of serial addition, a methodology first of mind in order to second the calculator, methodology you also needed to first learn -- that you may second methodology in favor of solution. Works that way for bomb-making, too, where methodology has to do with timely execution.

Antagonist
Antagonist

I submit that the whole idea of teaching the methodology in calculus is so that you don't HAVE to use a calculator. I mean, what happens if some nuclear bombs go off and we have to start engineering everything from scratch? heh

santeewelding
santeewelding

What are you, trained in law? Quit bringing up critical details.

hcetrepus
hcetrepus

Have students gotten so lazy and careless that they've turned into copy and paste monkeys who simply regurgitate information instead of providing unique and creative work? Yes, yes they have. I work in education and I see it every day. Whats worse is that there are many, many educators who are actually in favor of this! They turn in this work, and it looks good on paper, so they get a good grade, in turn making the instructor look good... it's a viscious circle.

I_Borg
I_Borg

This post is as right as it could be... Copy and Paste at your own peril... The teacher should take anyone caught plagiarizing aside and have serious conversation with them about why regurgitating other author's works is a huge waste of everyone's time... The university I attend requires reading, writing, and research classes, and this builds the foundation for proper study. We are also required to place an honor statement on all written work that we turn in stating that we understand the honor policy and that our work is our own...

Absolutely
Absolutely

It was going to mix CPU utilization and cerebral terminologies, and be hilarious. I got sidetracked, by the fact that "search engine" is just not a valid reference; that's intro to college writing, not controversy. And, there's no reason for her to have to argue about kids using their brains. That is a slightly goofy, but essentially accurate, summary of [b]existing[/b] standards for citing sources in academic work. No need to "reinvent the Wheel." ([i]Ibid[/i].)

neilb
neilb

given that Tara Brabazon is an [b]Australian[/b] working at a [b]British[/b] college, I'm not sure how the Democrats or the Republicans get a look in! She is also "Professor of Media Studies" and so, given the value of Media Studies as an academic pursuit, who gives a flying f*ck about the good Professor Brabazon OR her students, anyway? Even if she does have three Bachelor degrees, three Masters and a PhD she should go and get a proper job. :D

jdclyde
jdclyde

because I have a personal rule that I don't read any posts that have the original default title. If what someone has to say is worth so little that they can't make an appropriate title, why should I care about it more than they do?

jdclyde
jdclyde

that knew that was the [b]only way[/b] she could get most of the students to read the whole thing. Having just finished my BA, it still amazes me how few of the students would read the chapters and DO the work. Of course these were the same people that would show up the last few weeks of class begging for extra-credit work.... Did my heart good to see them get denied. :D Students today have been taught that it is the GRADE that is important, not the material, and so that is their focus. They are VERY content to walk in and buy an "A" from the "easy" teachers.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

VERIFIABLE SOURCES. If students are siting work from verifiable sources, then it is no problem. My thought is that periodicals are online as well as some research that is hard or expensive to get in the meat world (ACM articles come to mind...some folks will post the PDF on their web page and publish in the ACM) *sigh* I think it's just a sign of the times, blame the tool, don't blame the student.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Such an evaluation would not penalize a student who is able to "defend the thesis," as it were. What would be evaluated is student knowledge of the subject and the synthesis of ideas. My cousin stutters badly; his defense of his doctoral thesis took several days. The doctoral committee allowed him the time he needed to verbally present and support his thesis. Edit: clarify

normhaga
normhaga

You: "I submit that the whole idea of teaching the methodology in calculus is so that you don't HAVE to use a calculator." Me: Before the calculator was the slide rule, before the slide rule was the abacus, Calculus came between the two. When you repeat addition with smaller and smaller values as in differential calculus or do a Taylor series by hand with a 1000 additions, then talk about doing it by hand. I have had the experience of spending 45 minutes per shot solving a book problem and being wrong three times in a row. So, if and when the bomb goes off, I will do it by hand. Till then, and only if my electronics are on when the bomb goes off, I will use my TI-89 which would solve the above problem in less than 5 seconds, or Maple which will solve the problem about the time I lift my finger from the return key. Apparently, you do not know much about math or else you do not know much about the use of electronic appliances to solve math. This is not meant as an insult either. If you do not know how to set a problem up, or if you do not know how to determine if your answer is correct, the calculator is useless. Use a calculator to solve a quadratic equation and see what I mean.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

I stayed at a Holiday Inn once! LOL :)

Antagonist
Antagonist

Half the problem is that teachers aren't allowed to teach creatively without jeopardizing their careers and the other half is caused by students who refuse to be responsible for their own education. It really IS a vicious circle. If we judged the teachers on their ability to produce results with students instead of micro managing their methods, we might see some improvement. But then there is the whole issue of discipline and non-standardized testing, etc. It's not going to be solved over night, that's for sure

normhaga
normhaga

I scoff, and I scorn. The University I attended put into place anti plagiarism software for student papers to prevent this problem. I looked at the requirements, went to the anti plagiarism site and read how they scored the papers. I then fired up the EBSCO database and found the material I wanted. Using this material in a cut and paste without quoting sources, I completed the paper writing only the connecting paragraphs and changing a few words in the plagiarized material to make the glaring differences in writing styles less obvious. I then created a half dozen fictional sources as citations. the 90 percent plagiarized paper I turned in was rated at 98% original through the anti plagiarism turnin data base. I received an 'A' on the paper. Now, was it the plagiarized paper or the incompetent instructor with a Masters that was at fault? After final grading for the course, I went to the instructor with the paper and hard copies of the research I purposely plagiarized and showed her. When I received an indifferent attitude, I went to the Dean. The entire issue was swept under the rug. Looking at this example, what vicious circle are you talking about. The laziness of the student or the narrow mindedness and incompetence of the instructor.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

Education, especially at the college and post graduate levels, has unfortunately turned into a bad version of corporate politics where professors are more concerned about covering their own behinds instead of instilling the true meaning of education and independent thinking. I've been through this before and it just boils my blood that these idiots are tenures and nothing can be done to rid of them, perpetuating this cycle of stupidity and social promotion. It indeed is a shame and I pity the next generation who supposedly will be leading this country. I'd never hire some of the blockheads graduating today because they're all used to doing things the half-assed and stupid way instead of producing quality work. They also expect the have the world handed to them on a platter, while not offering anything of their own to the greater good. I'm foreign born, but I grew up in this country and my parents have always instilled in me education and knowledge. They told me that if I don't want to end up like some homeless and drunk bum on the street, I need to educate myself and do something useful with that knowledge. Why am I driven to succeed? Because back in the country I was born in, people of my kind were discriminated against and persecuted, so the only way to overcome this is to be smarter than them and have them washing your floors and cleaning your toilets. It's poetic justice when the people who once persecuted you are now bending over and kissing your butt and shining your shoes because they can't amount to anything more.

Absolutely
Absolutely

I use Ctrl+C & Ctrl+V quite a lot in my A-graded papers. The difference is between using [expert] quotes to support one's own thesis, versus copying or even paraphrasing somebody else's thesis, [b]without citation[/b]. Oz_Media: [i]We were never allowed to photocopy books from the library, but used them as a learning reference and had to cite sources with our work.[/i] Sounds like high school. In college, doing good research means quoting properly, not never quoting. [i]I find most kids just plain stupid these days, very little 'common sense' as answers are a click away and no creative thought is used anymore. They are in a rush to copy and paste info, not learn it or gain from the wealth of knlowledge they have as a resource (which we didn't have as kids).[/i] That's basically the sentiment I thought I detected in the professor's opinions, which is why I replied in the first place. Let's keep personal opinions about 'kids these days' out of academic standards. She's basically giving good academic standards a bad name, by defending them with a straw man argument.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I agree with that, neither can be quoted (C&P diorectly) but should be allowed as a RESOURCE for the conclusion the student arrives at. If used properly, not just takign teh first returned hit but comparing different views, gathering alternate opinions and facts and then forming an opinion to write a paper on should be encouraged. Students need to know how to use the internet properly, as it is a tool they will use in real life for such things. They should be encouraged to use the Internet as they would a library, not copied but researched for information. We were never allowed to photocopy books from the library, but used them as a learning reference and had to cite sources with our work. If a paper was challeneged for originality, the teacher could then refer to the book used and see if it was just copied or studied. I find most kids just plain stupid these days, very little 'common sense' as answers are a click away and no creative thought is used anymore. They are in a rush to copy and paste info, not learn it or gain from the wealth of knlowledge they have as a resource (which we didn't have as kids). Logic? I think most kids would have to Google it.

I_Borg
I_Borg

Wow! have a bad time in class? There is an undercurrent in the business world that believes that College education is not necessary and that someone who went to the school of hard knocks has a real degree. You must be a chapter president or something... I for one am a graduate of "Hard Knock U" and I have hit a wall in my career that can't be overcome without a degree. I have been going back to school for two years now and have learned things there that would have helped me earlier in my career. I am glad that I am not as bitter and jaded as you or I would never get over this wall...

Absolutely
Absolutely

She had a good point, and squandered it in favor of attacking Google & Wikipedia, at the same time. Typical radical. The valid points she should have made are that Google just spits back whatever is most popular, and Wikipedia just publishes anything, regardless of accuracy. Wikipedia has a process for removing what is proven false [u]iff it's challenged[/u], but has no mechanism for preventing falsehoods from being published in the first place. Neither is valid for graded academic work, by much simpler arguments than hers.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Prove me wrong; tackle her words rather than her degrees.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with Penn & Teller's Bullsh!t show B.S.=Bullsh!t degree which just might get you a job in the real world B.A.=Bullsh!t artist degree commonly sought after by liberal arts students who see college as one big beerfest and party M.S.=More sh!t degree which will at least ensure you'll get your foot in the door and past HR PhD=Pile high deeper degree for those that haven't yet had enough of the B.S. or M.S. degree experience and want more sh!t to deal with. :^0 Which one of these fits the professor in this thread?

jdclyde
jdclyde

Yeah, I get that way.... ;\

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Narrow mind. Like a steel trap...rusted shut!

santeewelding
santeewelding

Runes in wood, programmable DNA, petroglyphs, molecular transmogrification -- doesn't matter: Brian sweeps them away with but one, very narrow meaning of "book," including "slipstick."

Antagonist
Antagonist

Unless the class is called Research 101 it is not necessarily the teacher's job to teach a student how to research. If we are talking about college students, then they should already know. It is the job of the student to learn what is being taught; to be proactive in their quest for knowledge. If the student copies and pastes something that is garbage, they should get an F. It is the teacher's subjective criticism that determines the final grade anyway. So this teacher should advise the students away from using wikipedia and google as actual sources (google isn't a source anyway), and inform them of the consequences for plagiarizing (i.e. expulsion or failing grade). After all, it is just as easy for a teacher to look things up on wiki or google themselves to verify cheating. It isn't necessary to ban the resource tools. Natural consequences will force the students to use wiki and google the way they are meant to be used; as a starting point.

jdclyde
jdclyde

that are not available on the net, located on their internal servers. I had one class where that was your only internet source you could use for your research. There was also a detailed bib you had to fill out, that with a click of a link, would take the instructor DIRECTLY to the pages you sited. I again blame the instructors for several reasons. It is THEIR job to teach the students HOW to research properly and document their work. It is THEIR job to review the papers AND sources. Plagiarism is grounds for expulsion. The students crime is taking the easy way that is provided to them.

normhaga
normhaga

Turn-it-in requires that you waive all rights to the papers you submit to their system. In turn they use the papers for whatever reason they choose to. Not only does this use allow Turn-it-in to compare your paper to other papers, but say in the case of original research, to also sell the work to the highest bidder. The U of U mandates the use of turn-it-in to submit course work and research. Therefore, by university policy, you are required to forfeit all rights to your work. By extension, someone other than the original researcher or author may not only receive credit for the work submitted, but if they are faster, or have better lawyers, obtain patents or copyrights on your work and may take the profit that you could achieve from it. FYI, Turn-it-in maintains a hell of a legal team to maintain their rights to your mandated forfeiture of your work. As to spoofing their system, it took about 15 - 20 minutes of research, mostly on Google. Isn't the use of Google as a research source the base issue of the thread? This is the crux of the problem and what I fought against. By the way, each of the papers I submitted to Turn-it-in was temporarily copyrighted. At the end of the semester Turn-it-in was issued a cease and desist statement from me; they also ignored this statement. Currently, Turn-it-in is in court from about 150 students across the nation for compulsory forfeiture and profiteering of student papers.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I think I may have not been clear but it happens. My meaning was lucky he didn't get expelled for his unapproved "process evaluaiton" (as it where) rather than lucky that it was so easy for him to get the information and glue a paper together. Around here, they seem to be trying to truly enforce the gloom and doom warnings on plagourism; at least when it's obvious.

hcetrepus
hcetrepus

To go that far out of ones way to prove... what? You can break the rules?

normhaga
normhaga

Just plain old Google research and University research. A subscription to EBSCO costs the U of U $10M/year. The fee's paid to turn-it-in.com are $350k/year. EBSCO is one of 300 proprietary DB's U of U subscribes to or owns. Use the knowledge the research gave you and toss in critical thinking.

normhaga
normhaga

the web site of turn-it-in.com claims that they check a submitted paper against any information submitted to periodicals, private databases - such as EBSCO, Google Scholar, etc. and then submits a report to the instructor. The main point here is that there was a claim to check the references. I was angry at the increase of tuition and special fees in the writing courses required to support a bogus claim.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When I started Uni, there was a short paragraph on "though shalt not plagarise". Three years later before I switched over the part time program, that warning was a few pages long with dread and doom written all through it. To sum it up; even the smell of plagarism will result in unquestioned expulsion. I had a roommate retain his degree only after sevoral meetings because he had referenced a project from one course in another course and the proff decided that it was plagarism. I think you got lucky. The uninterested school administration is very much to blame in your case also but around these parts today, they'd blow it out of preportion and make an exampel of you rather than fix there own faulty blind reliance on technology.

I_Borg
I_Borg

Plagiarism is generally ignored at most universities. They put these anti-plagiarism software policies in place to protect their certifications and accreditations. If the paper looks good they generally will not check them, and the software just makes it easier for the professor to grade the paper and not to check the references themselves.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

and the status quo of such stupidity still goes on. Politics as usual.

nwoodson
nwoodson

I love it when errors in the system get manhandled! Great job! I hate it, though, when they go uncorrected. In my mind that calls for a revamping of a deficient system.

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