What Will You Click On Next? [Handout]

Poking through my feed reader this weekend, I stumbled on this GREAT bit on the Mindshift blog featuring the thinking of Howard Rheingold — a leader in defining the kinds of changing skills needed in order to learn efficiently in today's digital world. 

Rheingold makes a simple point early in the Mindshift article that really resonated with me:  Kids NEED to learn to carefully tame their attention span while they are searching the web. 

He writes:

need to make decisions. ‘Am I going to click on that link? Am I going
to maybe open a tab for it on my browser and look at it later? Am I
going to bookmark it to look at it much later or am I going to ignore

You need to make those decisions consciously and I think most of us
make them unconsciously… We wouldn’t have so many cute cat videos if
people didn’t click on impulse."

Stew in that for a minute, will you?  And then ask yourself whether or not you've ever taught your classes to be THAT intentional about the sites that they are clicking on when they are researching.

I know that I haven't spent any time encouraging my kids to think systematically about what they are clicking on when we are researching — and I'm a guy who really DOES spend a good chunk of time teaching kids how to sift through information efficiently. 

So I whipped up a handout based on Rheingold's suggestions that I think I'm going to ask kids to use the first few times that we do online research. 

Check it out here:

Download Handout_WhatWillYouClickNext

It's pretty detailed — which means it will also be pretty time consuming for kids to use — so I'm not likely to require that they actually write down every answer to every question every time that we go to the lab.

But I AM going to continuously remind my students that they should be clicking with a purpose — and that clicking with a purpose requires that they think carefully before, during and after sitting down at a computer to research. 

Any of this make sense?


Related Radical Reads:

Google's Redesigned Related Search Feature

Google's Reading Level Search Feature

The Anatomy of a Hoax Website


3 thoughts on “What Will You Click On Next? [Handout]

  1. crazedmummy

    Continuously making decisions is very stressful. I’m not looking for the reference, but I remember the studies. And purposefully searching the web is continuous decision-making. It’s therefore less stressful to click at random.

  2. Hatcherelli

    Hi Bill,
    Staying focused when you are on-line is definitely one of those “21st century” skills that we need to teach our students…and our teachers for that matter. The internet has a nasty habit of leading off on a path that gets us away from where we want to end up. With so much info online, we have to sift through heaps of stuff to find what those treasures which are useful for us at that particular moment…this is definitely a skill which needs to be modelled and taught. I think we take it for granted that our kids know how to do this because they are “digital natives”. Yeah, they grew up with technology…doesnt mean they know how to use it effectively. Thanks for the piece and the opportunity to chat for a bit.

  3. Bill Ivey

    Oh yes, this makes a lot of sense. I read “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr over the summer (many of the most important ideas are in the Atlantic interview at http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/06/nicholas-carr-on-the-superficial-webby-mind/57610/ for a quick introduction to his work) and it definitely made me think about the Internet and attention spans and the importance of just being in the here and now. In fact, I’m printing out an image that says “Be Here Now” for my classroom, and I plan to be very explicit and intentional with them about the value of focusing specifically on one things for an extended period of time. I don’t plan to oppose that to multitasking – I think there’s a place for that skill as well – but more work with them on the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of thinking.

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