So the ‘Google Generation’ (delightful, young people are once again defined by a multinational corporation) are all unabashed plagiarists. Stupid kids! Everybody knows the point of formal education is to learn how to conceal your sources correctly. From high within her ivory tower at Leeds Met University, plagiarism expert Professor Sally Brown is telling us (and I’m giving the prof the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t just cut and paste this from somewhere) “They are post-modern, eclectic, Google-generationists, Wikipediasts, who don’t necessarily recognise the concepts of authorships/ownerships.”
Funny she should mention Wikipediasts (is that term going to catch on? I thought it was Wikipedians – although Wikipedophiles has a certain ring), because yesterday I noticed that The Register has recently indulged in a bit of one of its favourite sports – pouncing on anything that makes Wikipedia look a bit silly: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been telling students not to refer to it. “For God sake, you’re in college; don’t cite the encyclopedia” cries the head ‘pediast.
Well, Prof Brown and you teachers faced with another cut-and-paste job from Wale’s baby, you shouldn’t waste any time worrying that the kids are nicking huge sections of online content and slapping them into their essays. Instead please recognise that, via new technology, information is becoming as plentiful and easy to obtain as air – and then realise the pointlessness of getting a whole class of students to write the same essays again, or forcing people who swim in a sea of information to sit on artificial dry land in an exam environment.
We shouldn’t be patching up out-dated assessment methods and telling kids off for rigging them to their advantage, instead we need to develop new ones to teach them more about how to process and filter information – like, should they really trust an encyclopaedia that begins its own page about itself with the line ‘no soup for you’?