Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Teacher, Teacher! May I go to the Google?

An anonymous student posted this on the SciWrite discussion board. I swear I'm not making this up.

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Sentences too technical (Unit 2 homework)

anonymous 3 days ago

I love the course, but I think some of the sentences are too technical (e.g. Unit 2 Homework Question 2.6 -> what is a "raised nevi"(it is not in Cambridge online dictionary)? should I search on Google the meaning of words?).
This is very annoying in homework exercises, because I am not able to correctly understand the meaning of the sentences in order to rephrase them. I have a computer science background and I am not a native English speaker. It would be great to know if others are having the same problem and if so solving it could be a big plus, especially for an online course.
Thank you :-)
The mind boggles. Where to begin? A student who claims to have a computer science background has asked, in public and presumably with a straight face, fully 15 years after Google came online and changed the entire world, whether he or she is supposed to search to learn the meaning of an unfamiliar word. The student finds the use of words he or she does not know as "very annoying."
I typed "define nevi" into the Google search bar and got over 150,000 hits. The first five were more than enough. A more specific query, "raised nevi," yielded over 1,000 results. 
Has this person been trained up to avoid search engines, or been told that using them is cheating? Impossible. Even Middlebury College's history department, when in 2007 it banned the citing of Wikipedia in research papers, conceded that the online encyclopedia wasn't a bad place to start a search; they just didn't want it cited as a source.
Or is this one of those poor timid souls for whom everything that is not mandatory is forbidden?
If I were the teacher, I would very kindly explain that checking Google is a natural bodily function, that everyone does it, sometimes several times a day, and there is absolutely no shame attached to it. 

1 comment:

Aga said...

Hi, nice to read it :) I suppose our classmate was insecure about external help - like some have doubts about using calculator during math classes.

Nice to meet you, we both take the SciWri this semester :)