How does access to Google affect our memory and learning? More importantly, how does our belief that we’ll just be able to Google whatever information we might need affect our memory and learning?
In the article ‘Google Effects on Memory’, researchers provide the findings from four different experiments. Through these experiments, they discovered that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers, and that when they expect to have future access to the information, they have lower rates of recall for the information itself. Instead, they merely remember where to access it, such as a specific website.
So the question is, how much should we rely upon the internet as a space where information is stored collectively outside ourselves, and how might this impact our teaching? One option is to push back hard and take away all technology. Sometimes this might be the best option. Other times, it may be more beneficial to lean into this, perhaps considering whether answers that can be Googled truly need to be memorized in your field.
Either way, it can be beneficial to be conscious of the impact that tools like Google can have on us. So next time you’re designing an assessment or asking students to memorize information, consider what effect having access to tools such as Google may have for long-term recall of that information.