Saturday, May 27, 2006

Do You Want a Google Jockey?

From a post by Robin Good:
A Google jockey is a participant in a presentation or class session who surfs the Internet for terms, ideas, or Web sites mentioned by the presenter or related to the topic at hand. A screen displays the jockey’s searches for all participants to see.
Apparently some college classrooms are experimenting with this, with the typical setup being the instructor presenting and projecting on one screen, and a student simulataneously surfing and bringing up relevant information on a second projected screen. Students in the class can even instant message the "Google Jockey" with suggestions during the presentation. Follow the link to get a more complete description, along with a list of pros and cons.

I find this very interesting, although not necessarily something I would recommend at this point. (Obviously, we don't have the capability of running two screens simultaneously in our classrooms, although if the teacher wasn't presenting, a Google jockey could be using the projector.) Personally, I think I would find it very distracting to try to keep track of both "channels" of information. But that might be precisely the important point here. Today's students are much more used to dealing with multiple channels of information at the same time (email, web surving, IM, and text messaging all at the same time). The article points out that this appeals to those students' need for multiple sources of information, while promoting a group dynamic of learning in the classroom (not relying solely on the professor for information).

I think it brings up some interesting points regarding the changing dynamics between teacher and student in the 21st century. If students have almost instantaneous access to a whole world of information, much of it more current and more relevant than what the instructor knows, then how does that change the role of the instructor (and the methods of presentation)? How do we incorporate the best of what technology has to offer us, without losing the best of what we already offer? How do we keep students engaged, while at the same time ensure that they are doing the deep and critical thinking that "instant information" can sometimes overpower?

As usual, I have more questions than answers (not that there's anything wrong with that!) But I encourage you to read the article and think about the implications of Google jockeying for your classroom. It's going to be quite a ride . . .

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