Filtering our lives

by 9:32 PM 3 comments
With advancements in personalization, our society has moved from the 600-page Sears Christmas Catalogue to customizable search engines that "know" what we're really looking for, and what we might be looking for during the holidays. It happens every moment of every day, even when I type the phrase common bass patterns for the sake of seeing what comes up, Google knows. By the way, for me: the guitar scales, not the fish migrations.

My organized chaos and search results
I got to thinking about this when I read Peter DeWitt's post on the EdWeek blog:

Engaging In Global Conversations Through Social Media

I'm not going to lie and say that everything you read on Twitter or Facebook is worth your time. But is everything you read in newspapers or watch on television worth your time either?

He continues,

There are algorithms that filter our choices based on previous choices we have made. This means that our Google searchers are not as diverse as we would like them to be if we haven't stepped out of our comfort zones.

So take this to a high-school student's research project (or even just daily assignment that asks for background information). Google shouldn't be an endpoint. I would say that the search engine and Wikipedia are probably pretty high on the "where to start" board, if not the only option for a lot of secondary students. And if that student has personal interests in playing a bass guitar, but needs to do a paper on the migratory patterns of the North American Smallmouth Bass, the problem comes into view.

Big picture: if I only watch one news channel, read one newspaper, skim one website, my information is limited; and search engines could be doing the same thing.

DeWitt advises to first search out of our comfort zones, but also to connect with social media for views that might be different from our own. The idea is not new - connecting with others - and schools are starting to allow for this (we have done Google hangouts in my classroom and twitter #chats) but we can't be afraid of continuing this trend.

My final for my research grad class has me exploring the effects of technology (specifically 1:1) on English Language Arts (ELA) test scores, and if there is an upward trend in that data. With relatively little research on this topic specific to secondary schools to date, I am starting to see data that supports the idea that schools generally see little score increase (or even a negative result) for the first year or two of 1:1 implementation, then consistant increases in test scores no matter the schools socioeconomic status.

Quickly: I am very new at this research thing, and my paper is just a proposal.

How do these two topics come together (I find myself asking)? If we, as educators, can come out of our Google searches ("traditional" methods) for ways to educate secondary students and connect our classrooms through technology with other viewpoints that aren't as easily searchable, then we are doing our students a great service in more than just their education.

Rob Lindquist


I do a lot of things. The best thing I do is fathering (I think). I'm the ol' "Jack of all trades, Master of none." I teach aspiring journalists. I run. I play guitar(s). I also host a running podcast. Oh, and I dabble in drawing. And I dabble in authoring... children's books no less. I just dabble. Sometimes I ramble.


  1. You should read Eli Pariser's book 'The Filter Bubble.' Even freakier what the Internet is collecting from all of us, and what it does to the information that we all get when we search.

  2. Be sure to also see the criticisms of the 'filter bubble' concept at & Plus there's also !

    1. Perfect! Already getting to the "other side of the story" through technology connectedness ;) Thank you for the information Scott!