UnGoogleable questions again
|Photo by Steve Wheeler|
It's no surprise then that many think that everything can be Googled. But they would be wrong. There are many questions that cannot be answered by simply going online and Googling.
I blogged this in that previous post:
One of the remedies for lack of engagement is to present students with a wicked problem to solve, or an irresistible question to answer. Some teachers have said to me that everything is searchable on Google, and that it doesn't take students long to crack such challenges or questions. My response is - oh really? You're probably asking the wrong questions then! I'm going to argue here that there are many questions that are unGoogleable. I wrote about this idea 5 years ago, when I discussed some of the issues around the nature of knowledge and knowing. There were several responses, many of which were searching and considered about the role of teachers, the process by which we come to know and the function of technology in education.I posted an anatomy question that had previously stumped many medics and experts, and argued that if they are challenged, then students would be even more challenged, to go out and discover the answer. But this is just the starting point. Just like Wikipedia, we can use the unGoogleable question to create a launching pad into more serious enquiry. It becomes a gateway question that engages students in seeking deeper learning around the topic in question.
Here's the question:
One of my favourite unGoogleable questions has been posed to audiences across the globe, and specifically to medical colleagues. No-one has arrived at the answer without a great deal of thinking, searching and analysis. It is this: In the normal human body, what do each of us have exactly five of?
Eventually someone came up with an answer - the are 5 lobes in the lungs - 3 on the right side and 2 on the left. But that's not the end. Good answers should generate new questions. So why is this part of the human body asymmetrical? The answer is that it is because the heart is slightly inclined to the left, and then the next question is why is this? Then there is a chain reaction of further, deeper questions. This draws the student into a deeper investigation and appreciation of the cardio-pulmonary system, and in the process, they become more engaged in questioning, discovering and conjecturing.
Interestingly, someone then complained that now we had discussed this unGoogleable question online, it was now no longer an unGoogleable question. But that is the entire point of this kind of method of learning. Engaging in this process amplifies knowledge, sharing it across the web, so that everyone can benefit. Why keep learning to yourself if others can benefit. Go out and create another unGoogleable question!
I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has discovered unGoogleable questions within their own discipline. Please take this opportunity to share them in the comments box below.
UnGoogleable questions again by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.