How will new web-search formulas adopted by Google, Microsoft, and others affect future scholarship, or students’ understanding of the world? What skills should students be taught in school so they’re prepared to make sense of, and make their mark on, this new digital landscape?
Award-winning educator, speaker, author, and consultant Angela Maiers will address these questions and more in a special Twitter chat hour with eSchool News readers Oct. 19.
Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other online gatekeepers recently revised their search algorithms in an attempt to bring users more personalized information. This subtle shift has enormous implications for students, researchers, and society at large, Maiers and other experts agree.
When web surfers use Google, Yahoo!, or Bing to look for information about a topic, the search results they now see at the top of the page might differ from those of their neighbor. That’s because all the major search engines have revamped their formulas to include social media data as key indicators of a website’s importance.
Every time we click on an internet link, we’re contributing to our online profile. In effect, we’re telling Google, “This is a source I like and trust.” Now, the ranking systems of all the major search engines take these hundreds of endorsements we make every day and use them to deliver information that the companies behind these tools assume we’ll value: The links from our most “trusted” sources—such as our friends, or the websites we visit every day—appear at the top of our search results.
This is how sites like Amazon.com and Netflix have been sorting our potential shopping or movie-rental choices for years. But looking for movie recommendations isn’t the same as looking for objective information about a topic. This stealthy rewriting of the rules for internet search could have a profound effect on how we understand, and influence, the world.
If students, researchers, and educators want their writings, videos, websites, and other online works to appear near the top of an internet search, they’ll have to understand how these new rules work in order to take advantage of them, says Maiers—who notes that it’s more important than ever for schools to teach social media skills to their students and give them a chance to create, collaborate, and contribute online. (For more information about the new rules of internet search and their potential implications for students and society, see here.)
On Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. Eastern time, Maiers will take over the eSchool News Twitter handle for a revealing session that delves further into these implications. She’ll answer readers’ questions and give her best advice for how educators can prepare their students for the new web-search landscape.
To participate, send your questions for Maiers to @eschoolnews and use the hashtag #AMedchat. If you don’t follow eSchool News on Twitter, you can do so here.
Don’t miss this special interactive session!