The Myth of the Google Generation

From Jane in the UK comes an email about my comment about students not being as tech-literate as people sometimes assume with a link to The British Library which is reacting to a study that looks at the myth of the "Google Generation." Based on this particular research, the British Library argues that libraries will have to deal with the reality that these digital young people simply lack information skills. I thought libraries always had to deal with that lack of skills, but I realize that what the study addresses is that the expectation of tech literacy is a false one. The widely-held notion that kids born or brought up in the Internet age are not only web-literate, but able to do all technology is probably more accepted by the media and the general public than by educators.

The virtual longitudinal study cited was done by the CIBER research team at University College London. It shows that although young people demonstrate an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, they rely heavily on search engines, view rather than read and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web. The report is called Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future (PDF).

It also shows that research traits that are commonly associated with younger users like impatience in search and navigation, and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs are now becoming the norm for all age-groups, right up to undergraduates and their professors. One thing that really caught me in the report is the idea that students are becoming "viewers" rather than "readers" of online information.

Anyone want to argue that American students are any better at information literacy?

The British Library and JISC commissioned this report which was conducted by the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) at UCL.

Listen to a podcast about the report from the launch event at the British Library from the JISC website


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