Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Learning to search

Malcolm Gladwell has written a book called Blink in which he discusses how we make decisions intuitively, often in a split second, and suggests that these are the ones that are more likely to be successful than the ones we mull over for ages.

I like the implications involved in that idea. Did we always make decisions that way? when life was lived at a slower simpler pace? (Do I have the right to call that pace slow and simple?) And are they really better decisions - the ones we make on the fly?

What I do want to look at, though,is the response to the book by Gord Hotchkiss writing for Search insider. He relates this decision-making process to our use of internet search. Most people surveyed could not articulate why or how they made the decisions they did when searching the internet.

I want to apply this to children (and possibly anyone learning search at any time). Surely many of the decisions we make are based on what we have learned through experience. It is time to direct children, and many Librarians and Teacher Librariana are doing just that. But it seems that many are left to learn by trial and error, using their valuable education time. This seems such a waste. If they are to use the internet in their education, then they need to learn more quickly and accurately. They need to be shown how to evaluate the material presented by search engines and owners of sites. They need to make conscious decisions, based on strategies we can teach them. Then those conscious decisions can become the "intuition" that guides them in later years. I do believe that intuition is much like conscience, an amount innate, but, to a greater degree, learned behaviour.

The strategies have to be similar to those we teach in paper-based research. We exhort not to judge a book by its cover ... then we must teach how to judge a search result, just as well.
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