My Course on How to Use the Internet

My Course on How to Use the Internet January 11, 2013

The new semester at Butler University begins on Monday. My course on the Bible is at the same time a course on how to use the internet. The need for training in such skills is illustrated well by this image that has been circulating on Facebook:

Whether or not to take advantage of the accessibility of information and literature is a choice we all must make. There are so many classic books available in electronic form perfectly legally as they are in the public domain. But how many people actually take the time to read them? How many seek out classic literature, or accurate information, in the midst of the things that are more popular but arguably have less depth and/or accuracy?

On that note, here’s a Dilbert cartoon which Marc Cortez shared:

It does take work – an investment of time and effort – to have an informed opinion. But it takes much less work than it used to. And so the question that remains is how many people can be persuaded that the effort is worthwhile.

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  • mikeH

    ” And so the question that remains is how many people can be persuaded that the effort is worthwhile.”
    I’ll let you know as soon as I check my horoscope.

  • If say, I’m from the 1950s and you inform me that people today can have differing ideologies and opinions; but still lie, cheat, steal, womanize, plagiarize and be gay…and can become a Senator in congress? And it feels good to fork out an extra 100 months of unemployment benefits, without having to worry about the ramifications to future generations? Yikes. It’s like a college professor lecturing to a brick.

    • David Keneally

      Hello Keika

      I am a gay man, living in kindness and harmony with my coworkers, friends and family. I’m very happy to live in an era in which I can find acceptance. I am benevolent and work hard, both at my job and in service to my community.

      I am not a liar, a cheater, a thief, a womanizer, or a plagiarizer; and I don’t appreciate being listed alongside such people as though I am just as bad.


      • Oh Dave, no insults meant in any way towards gay people. Read my words like song lyrics. The guy speaking was ‘from the 50’s’ when the Senatorial coat closet was where homosexuals were hidden. He was surprised by the world of today. It’s a much better world as long as we don’t allow reason and intelligence go to waste. My end point. Now I’ve insulted the dummies out there.

        • David Keneally

          Well, I wouldn’t consider myself a dummy, either. I’m not sure your send up of the guy from the 50’s works as cleverly as you imagine.

  • Thanks for the post – interesting food for thought!!

  • Gary

    I was in elementary school in the 50’s. If, as a 7 year old, I was transported to 2013, I would say, “sure glad I don’t have to practice the stupid duck and cover. And dad doesn’t have to consider he should build a bomb shelter, since he doesn’t have the bucks. Mutually Assured Destruction is the scariest thing”. So every generation has their “worst/best of times issues”.

    • I was 9 on Nov 22, 1963, at school during recess when the teachers came outside, rounded up the children and said…”Go home, now!” I thought the bombs would be raining down any second. But it was only an assassination of a president that caused the panic. Whew. Glad I don’t live in those times again.

  • Love the Dilbert.
    Can’t wait to preach the sermon, “Your Life Is A Lie! Believe it”

  • Brad Matthies

    Bravo! More educators — and especially academic librarians — need to be developing similar courses. I plan to share this post near and far. I also hope that you blog about the course’s progress!

  • James, can you share a bit more about what you do in the class to teach Internet literacy? I require digital Bibles for my class and teach search techniques, but I generally steer my students toward curated resources provided by our library instead of the Internet at large.

    • Hi Chris. I have assignments and in-class activities which focus on students identifying whether there is a scholarly consensus about a particular topic, and if so what it is. We do some work in class on what an expert source is, how scholarship works, what kinds of things to look for, what sites have useful material, and what keywords can help sift out some of the less useful and less academic things on the web. I’ll try to blog about some of the activities soon, and if you want, let me know by e-mail and I’ll send you a copy of the syllabus and assignments.