GIYF, apparently

Long story

This academic year I’ve encountered a problem that wasn’t previously one I’d seen.

On several occasions, students have been in touch to say they can’t access materials, or links in reading lists are broken.

That’s bad, on my part, but a quick type into Google pulls up the correct link and/or material.

Most of me assumes that search engines are a staple of modern life, so I struggle to understand why one wouldn’t just check on one if you couldn’t find what you wanted.

But a bit of me also worries that this is symptomatic of some kind of learned helplessness: by being in the habit of just being given stuff, one loses the ability to find stuff for yourself.

I know we go around the spoon-feeding debate in education pretty regularly, but this seems like an odd case, given that we could expect using search engines to be a much more pervasive thing.

I need to follow this up with students and I’ll come back with any feedback, but I’d also welcome your thoughts too, both on causes and solutions.

3 Replies to “GIYF, apparently”

  1. I have the same problem of students coming to me because a reading list link is broken. I personally hate the reading list system, it’s tedious to update and creates dependency. Students no longer know how to use the library search engine or google scholar to search for readings. I understand that it’s a convenient way to access readings quickly, but I wish we’d get rid of it!

  2. Similar situation here, as I alluded to in my last post ( Most recent example: student saw an unfamiliar term in a writing assignment prompt and asked me how to find out what it meant. The term is explained in first paragraph of the journal article that corresponds to the assignment. I suggested doing the reading first and then, if needed, searching for definitions on, for example, Wikipedia.

  3. haha, I had this exact same thing happen. I just laid down the rules early on in the semester: “there are a lot of hyperlinks in the syllabus. Sometimes things don’t work. You have the responsibility to first, try cutting and pasting the link into your browser. if that doesn’t work, type the article title into google. You should also email to inform me that it does not work so I can fix it in the future, but do not tell me you can’t find it until you’ve actually tried looking.”
    Going through this expectation early in the semester has worked remarkably well and cut way down on those emails. I suppose it could be put in the syllabus, as well, but I have not done so.

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