One of the major developments in the 21st Century has to do with information and communication technology (herein referred to as ICT). Computers, mobile phones and such other features of ICT have become indispensable aspects of the modern society. The internet has been one of these developments. Today, people, more than ever, can access a great deal of information from the internet. Organizations need not carry out expensive physical market studies.
All they have to do, if they are innovative enough, is to conduct a survey online. Questionnaires can be sent to respondents, who complete them and mail them back. There is no need for the organization to come into physical contact with the client.
On the other hand, businesses can find information that they need online. They do not have to go to national archives and libraries to dig out information; the same can be accessed online at relatively low costs and high speeds. Also, clients need not visit the business premises to place their orders. Instead, they can access the items they need to purchase online. They can then place their orders, pay and have the items delivered to them.
It is not only the businesses that have benefited from the discovery of the internet and all the wonders it portends. The work of the students has been made easy and enjoyable by the internet. Students can access a lot of educational information from the internet. When they have been given an assignment, the student has the option of visiting the library and searching for the information manually, a process that is not enjoyable to many and which is tedious. Alternatively, the student can brainstorm with their fellow students to come up with information that will be used to complete the assignment.
Thirdly, the student may opt to access the information online by the use of the internet. This paper is a comparison and contrast essay on this topic. The author of this paper is going to compare and contrast the benefits of Googling an assigned topic and brainstorming on the same. This is given the fact that both strategies have their own strengths and weaknesses.
2. Googling vs. Offline Brainstorming: Benefits
Information from the internet is accessed via various search engines at the disposal of the student. These are for example Google, JSTOR and MedCare among others. The selection of the search engine to use depends on the kind of information that the student is interested in (Pakhare 2).
For example, if they are interested in medical and health care information, the student is likely to use search engines such as MedCare. It is the use of these search engines that will be referred to as “Googling” in this paper. Googling is carried out using a combination of key words and search terms. A certain combination entered into this search engine will give rise to a defined kind of information.
This is the information used by the student to complete their assignment. There are several benefits riding on Googling an assigned topic as opposed to brainstorming on the same offline. Pakhare (3) is of the view that the student is able to access information on unusual topics which may be out side what the teacher covered in class. For example, a teacher for a sociologically oriented subject may give the students an assignment to do with health care. Since this topic was never covered in class, it will be useless for the student to brainstorm offline with their colleagues. This is given the fact that the class mates are likely to be also on the dark as far as the topic is concerned.
This being the case, brainstorming will be of little or no use to the student. To the contrary, the student can access any form of information on the internet when they Google it. Googling provides the student with a wide range of information on a given topic (Pakhare 7). Researchers and other scholars mainly archive the findings of their studies on data bases that can be accessed on the internet through Googling. The student is able to access all of this information from many scholars. As such, they are exposed to various perspectives on a given topic. This is not the case in brainstorming offline. The information from brainstorming is as rich as the knowledge base of the participants.
When the participants are as knowledgeable as the student, the experience is not as enriching as Googling. The student can not access various perspectives from their peers. The information accessed online by the student is current and up to date (Pakhare 4). It reflects recent developments in the field. This is given the fact that when a study is conducted on one corner of the globe, it can be accessed very fast by another party on another corner when it is archived online.
The student benefits by getting exposed to new information on their field. This is not the case in offline brainstorming. The student and the peers may only be in possession of antiquated information which does not reflect new developments in the field. Also, according to Pakhare (5), the student is not only able to access quality and recent information from the internet; they can also access the information at any time of the day.
For an effective brainstorming, the student has to make efforts and bring together participants in one location. This can only be done for example during the day and not at all times. On the contrary, if the student opts to Google an assigned topic, they can do this at any time; during the night, over the weekend. This makes it possible for the student to complete the assignment at their own pace; the completion of the assignment is not dictated by the convenience of significant others. Googling an assigned topic is also faster and relatively inexpensive (Pakhare 3). There is no need to commute to a central location to participate in a brainstorming session.
Also, there is no need to buy articles such as magazines, books and news papers to provide information for the brainstorming session. The student can access the internet at the comfort of their homes, even using their internet enabled phones, making the process very cheap. The student does not have to put up with arguments and disagreements from the participants in a brainstorming session, making Googling to be relatively fast than brainstorming.
3. Offline Brainstorming vs. Googling: Benefits
However, there are several attributes that make brainstorming an assigned topic offline to be more advantageous than Googling.
This is especially so given the inherent benefits of brainstorming. Pakhare (18) is of the view that a student who Googles their assignment is not a creative and analytical learner. Googling means that the student is not engaging their imaginative faculties; they are merely regurgitating information and knowledge created by other minds. If every person started Googling topics instead of researching, there will reach a point where there will be no new knowledge in the field. Offline brainstorming engages the analytical and creative faculties of the student.
The student is able to reason with their peers on an intellectual level, making brainstorming a more enriching encounter for them. A student who uses Google and other search engines to complete an assigned topic is likely to be penalized for plagiarism (Pakhare 4). This is given the fact that the student is using the knowledge of other people. As such, when they fail to correctly and accurately acknowledge the source of their information, the student can be said to have plagiarized. This is not the case when it comes to offline brainstorming.
Each and every idea from the participants is a novel and original thought and input to the field. Pakhare (5) opines that any person anywhere around the globe can upload information on the internet. As such, the student may be exposed to inaccurate and misleading information from the internet when they Google. While websites such as Wikipedia are popular sources of information, they are not considered intellectual enough to be cited by the student. This is an indication of the vagaries of Googling an assigned topic. On the other hand, the student is able to question the contribution of members in a brainstorming group, making the information to be credible.
The student may also access a lot of information that may not bee helpful (Pakhare 7). This bombardment overwhelms the faculties of the student. This is not the case in brainstorming. This is given that the participants usually focus their attention on a specific topic, avoiding generation of unnecessary information.
The debate on whether to Google an assigned topic or brainstorm offline continues. A lot of rhetoric questions emerge from this debate.
For example, given the mixed bag of benefits and costs of Googling, should schools ban this practice completely? If it is banned, does this not mean that the student can not enjoy its various benefits? The author made no effort to settle this controversy; rather, they set out to highlight the controversy more vividly.
Pakhare, Jayashree. The Benefits and Costs of the Internet. New York: Knopf, 2010.