Internet Research: Things teachers should never do with ICT*

(*but quite often do).

Computing Complete bestows a “things teachers should never do with ICT* award” to all internet research and all unstructured, unplanned, pointless requests for your class to:

“Go on the internet and research…”


The internet as all researchers know, is a never-ending maze of misinformation, distracting images and time-wasting nonsense.

Teachers know this more than anyone else. Most teachers have lost count of those internet research realisations. The moment when you realise that although you intended to just spend 10 minutes searching for… (for example: some suitable slogans on internet safety to give your class) an hour has crept by. And in that hour you have found yourself absorbed by:

  • a prehistoric sea monster has been found still alive in the Philippines;
  • an article that reveals what ‘our Google searches tell us about who we really are’;
  • the latest on celebrities you don’t recognise from TV shows you didn’t know existed;
  • an amazing, simple trick for getting ink stains out of cotton shirts (it was neither);
  • lots videos of cats. Cats! Jumping in and out and round and down and off and over things…

…and of course…

  • more resources on suitable slogans for internet safety than you will ever have the time to read even if you dedicated most of your next holiday to doing so.

As teachers we know more than most that time and tide wait for no one to carry out just one more search for internet safety rules worksheets because the last 8 pages of them were just not quite what you wanted or had in mind at all…

We know this but…

We know what a difficult and time intensive process it is extracting even the most simplist of information from the internet. So it’s hard to imagine we would expect our classes to do so. Most we wouldn’t trust to read their own names on their PE kits.

Teachers should also know more than most what would happen if they directed their classes to “Go on the internet and research…” (for example continuing the theme : Beth Tweddle, Olympic gymnast and UK Safer Internet Centre Ambassador)

What happens when they ‘go on the internet and research’

At best our we will overwhelm our students with the masses of information they could potentially find. They will need a particular set of skills to sift, scan and lift out the details you had in mind. For instance, did you want attention given to her Olympic career, her charity work, her childhood, her social media messages, her gym camp campaigns or her Safer Internet Day role and support?

At worst, we will get handed heaps of printed nonsense, clearly copied and pasted from the top search listing. We will be unsurprised and a little self reproving to see work written in a type of journalistic language our students were unlikely to have understood, even if they had been of a mind to bother to read.

But, at most, we will just end up with a few facts on a digital page, some poorly arranged pasted images, the odd stray piece of text from who knows where, and no one really managing to do much beyond finding lots videos of cats. Cats! Jumping in and out and round and down and off and over things….

…So in honour of every teacher (not that there be any) who has hurried their class into the pre-booked IT suite for an impromptu visit and brightly announced “Go on the internet and research…” imagining they could now catch up on some overdue marking while their class grazes in vast meadows of knowledge and creates ‘fact files’ of astounding quality…





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