Friday, August 5, 2011

Smurfing the Net

If Smurfs searched, what would you expect them to do?

Probably what the (stereo)typical student does: google a path to Wikipedia, snatch an answer and run.

That assessment may not be fair to all students, and probably not any student all the time, but it is what happens in the new Smurf movie.

I suppose this can be viewed a couple of ways:

1. Hollywood "got it right." Art imitating life.
2. Hollywood "missed an opportunity." The subduction of art.

Both views have merit. This is exactly what you'd expect from Smurfs (although it's the human in the movie who drives the search). This could have been an opportunity to set a good example to millions of students (for more on this, I suggest this blog: Why Do Smurfs Hate Information Literacy?)

Even if the movie makers missed an opportunity, it could be a good "bad" example to use in classrooms or library orientation. It can be very effective to have students evaluate questionable search behaviors. They can spot questionable search behaviors.

If you can't show a clip of the movie, students may remember it. Have them recall what happened in the movie. Then try the search. Sort through the irrelevant blue moon results. Go to Wikipedia. Have students "fact check" information they find there. Fact checking Wikipedia is always a good idea: can you find information that supports what is said in the big wiki?

If you want to use more of a search challenge, refine the question--always the key to better searching. Instead of just looking for 'blue moon,' look for this:
What makes the moon appear to be blue?

  • Who can come up with an answer authored by a scientist?
  • Who can come up with an explanation according to a smurf?

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