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Posts Tagged ‘ungoogleable

I am recreating some of my favourite image quotes I created some time ago. This time I use Pablo by Buffer and indicate attribution and CC license.

If your students can Google the answer, you are not asking the right questions.

Remember bite-sized lesson 2: question? In it I referred to the importance of using the pedagogy of questions (PoQ), not just the pedagogy of answers (PoA).

However, simply asking factual or low-level questions is not representative of the PoQ. It is not just about searching for answers and getting them right. This focuses on the product of learning.

The PoQ is more about the processes of teaching, e.g., asking the unGoogleable questions, and of learning, e.g., analysing and evaluating what is found.

Note: I am on vacation with my family. However, I am keeping up my blog-reflection-a-day habit by scheduling a thought a day. I hope this shows that reflections do not have to be arduous to provoke thought or seed learning.

Yesterday I started sharing how one might assess the unGoogleable.

Today I share another idea. Since it is the weekend, it is time for something light yet serious. Seriously cool and for serious consideration.

It is not about what you claim you can do. It is not just how well you perform on tests.

It is about what you can actually do. It is about how you can combine knowledge and skills that schools still offer in separate silos and make your own sense of them.

It is about making your own connections and putting your own take on things.


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It is about pursuing your passions and working on what you are good at so that you become better. It is about sharing what is special and creative about you to the world around you.

It is about leveraging on current and emerging technologies to tell your parents, teachers, and employers what you are learning and what you can do.

It is about showing the unGoogleable and letting others decide what your wares are worth.

Last week Sugata Mitra suggested this at a leadership conference in Singapore:

This is not new to thought leaders and those that follow them.

For example, in 2012 I tweeted a link on the Danish experiment on allowing Internet use during exams. Here are some other links I have been collecting in Diigo.

While there are many good reasons for allowing the use of the Internet for tests and exams, there is common approach among thought and action leaders. If Google can help answer questions, then we should also (only?) test 1) learners’ ability to search, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize, and 2) the unGoogleable.

I illustrate with two recent examples.

A Singapore Math question went viral locally and has gained traction elsewhere. It claims to be about logic and there is apparently more than one solution [1] [2].

I question the logic of such questions, but that is not what this reflection is about. The fact of the matter is that the solutions, the rationales, and their critiques can all be found online.

You do not need to know how to get the answer traditionally. You need only know how to search online for information and people, and decide which return is best. If that is not a 21st century competency, I do not know what is.

Next example. Last week, my wife, an English teacher, received a message containing an English problem supposedly pitched at the Primary 1 level.

It went something like this:

I am a word of five letters and people eat me. If you remove the first letter I become a form of energy. Remove the first two and I am needed to live. Scramble the last three and you can drink me. What word am I?

There are many other variations of this. There are also several reactions that kids and parents can have.

One is panic, as the messenger did. After he calmed down, he reached out to a teacher (my wife) but not his child’s teacher because the latter caused the panic in the first place.

Another reaction was to learn the “logic” of the artificial problem and use either thought finesse or brute force to crack it open.

As much as I might enjoy a puzzle, I do not appreciate fake ones, particularly ones given late at night and not meaningful to me. My reaction was to Google it.

I had barely typed “I am a word of…” and Google’s suggested search phrases appeared. And links. And answers. And variations. And discussions galore!

Is there a need to test? Certainly.

Is there a need to test what we can Google? I think not.

What does a test for the unGoogleable look like? It is difficult to say for sure, but it is NOT a just test.

As challenging as good tests are to create, they are relatively easy to grade because answers fit into as few categories as possible. Preferably two categories: Right and wrong. If you take into consideration different perspectives, answers, or talents, then tests become inadequate.

A look at what happens in online social spaces gives clues as to what assessing the unGoogleable might look like. There are discussion forums where the best answers float to the top by popular vote. There are blogs with explanations and reflections on such problems.

Expand this natural “testing” island to a broader universe and the possibilities are endless. Twitter debates, Facebook critiques, YouTube video challenges, Instagram or Pinterest collections, Vine impressions.

All these and more are already part of digital databases that capture our identities. The Googles of the world use it for research, marketing, and advertising. I say we tame, manage, and organize these data in an online portfolio to showcase what we learn. Then we might stumble on ways to assess the unGoogleable.

What is after the unGoogleable question? [1] [2]

The unWikipediable question.

That is yet another important drop in the bucket of the pedagogy of questions.

I first reflected on what an unGoogleable question might be in December 2009.

I recall mentioning unGoogleable questions at a talk or two.

To make a long story short, this practice is about promoting higher order thinking with challenging questions. These type of questions could be discussed daily in class or used in high stakes online exams.

But here is is different type of unGoogleable question.

At the moment, you cannot find a definite answer if you Googled “What should you do if a dinosaur was about to eat you?” So technically, it is a question with an unGoogleable answer. However, short of conducting a thought experiment, it is a pointless question.

The boy’s answer is also not Googleable, nor can it be taught easily. But the critical and creative thinking behind that answer can be caught by learners who observe, adopt, and adapt the behaviours of educators who model such thinking.

So here is my unGoogleable question: How do we get more teachers who know how to ask and deal with unGoogleable questions of the non-dinosaur kind?


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