I’ve been working on several pieces tentatively titled “Google vs. Grok.”  I love telling people this.  I get one of two reactions to Grok.  Either people light up or look at me quite perplexed.  Grok is from Robert Heinlein’s 1961 Hugo-Award Winning Stranger in a Strange Land and speaks to a true, deep understanding.  In the book, it also has to do with eating people when they die to truly understand them, but that’s a little off topic…  🙂  (It is also fun that I can look at all the 100 uses and contexts of grok in the book from the Google word cloud.)

I’m writing some research in this space for my Fielding Graduate University work, hopefully finishing a piece for a media journal this week, and presenting  at TechEd here in the Pasadena area on April 13 about its implications on teaching organizations.  I’ll be talking about information literacy and its implications just in time for the proposed May “launch” of the new California state information literacy standards (noted below).

At CUE10 this past week, I found the issues illustrated by two very different but back-to-back panels on the subject:

1) First, Heather Wolpert-Gawron (http://tweenteacher.com) shared her insights from teaching information literacy to Southern California middle schoolers in San Gabriel.  From her engaging and humorous work in the classroom, she has created and published two workbooks on the subject, available at Teacher Created Resources.  She has some marvelous illustrations and exercises to get students to decode the web and think of its many layers in very real terms to that age group.  She found a gap and has filled it. 

She also shared some interesting sites with “wrong” information that are great examples to share with students.  My favorite example was about the extinction of the Tree Octopus at http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus.

2) In a room down the hall just following Heather’s presentation, a panel discussed these new state “standards.”  Behind the table, we had voices ranging from California PTA to UC to a school board member to the California School Library Association.  The whole session was focused on the proposed School Library Standards and the contained Information Literacy Standards for the state of California: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/lb/documents/schlibstandrevdraft.doc

However, the group repeated over and over that these aren’t Standards that will be tested.  Instead, these are meant to be guidelines or models for behavior. 
What you don’t test, we don’t tend to get. 

I found this entire session frustrating and all about how to set up goals with no resources, no funding, and no professional development for teachers.  Everyone is happy to wave the flag around the idea, but it is shoved into the world of school libraries as the change agents.  They are and can be, but on the school pecking order, aren’t in the right political position of funding and influence to really affect changing how we learn. This discussion wasn’t a cry to integrate this thinking and learning into the balance of the school day, but focused on parking this into the funding-beleaguered school libraries. Yet this seemed a big battle or task to even get to this point, having taken a reported 17 years to achieve.

And we wonder why many of my graduate students still use the first few items in their 2.5-word Google search to find truth for their thinking and assignments.