28 January 2011

An Idea for Modern Education

Step One

Do a traditional lecture on the topic.

Step Two

Assign standard homework. But for each question, ask where and how students arrived at their answers.

You can hope all you want that students will learn the material by attending your lectures, reading things you've assigned them to read, and getting a broad background on the topic from which they can draw to answer specific questions. But this is a day and age where they will just copy/paste the entire question into a search engine (including any misspellings). And there are lots and lots of people on the Internet who will happily write a direct answer to it if enough students input the exact same one. Yay for SEO longtails and ad revenue share.

Step Three

Do a second lecture about all the online sources on the topic that students have found. "This one is right because..." "This one is wrong about..."

In this way, not only do they still learn the actual material, they also get some insight into evaluating sources on their own. And you learn where all the cheat sources are without having to look yourself. Win-win? :)

Note: I have no education background whatsoever except as a student.


Tom said...

This depends a lot on the honesty of the student.
"Where did you find this?"
"I copied it verbatim from this site on-line."

Yeah, right!

MWT said...

Yeah, the tricky part would be to establish early on that the student won't be punished for getting their answers online. But once that's laid down, it should work out okay. ;)