Just Google it! Young People, Knowledge, and Information-Scapes

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Knowledge is the new economy. Increasingly, young people navigate ‘information scapes’ across multiple modalities to produce collaborative knowledge products. In this paper, we analyse data collected from focus group discussions with secondary-school students (aged between 12 and 17 years) in four schools across regional and urban areas in Queensland, Australia. We examine what students have to say about their engagement with two popular internet sites, Wikipedia and Google, in relation to completing school assignments. Specifically we focus on how students talk about collaborative knowledge sources, how they value knowledge from these sources, how they perceive and mitigate the potential problems and risks of such knowledge, and how this might influence them in collaborative knowledge work. We theorise the focus group data by drawing on theories of epistemology, particularly concepts of epistemic fluency, epistemic forms, and epistemic games to consider how play and performance in multiple modalities enable students to move between three different ‘epistemic worlds’ (see Bereiter, 2002; Goodyear, 2007). Finally, we consider the pedagogical implications of youth’s approaches to knowledge construction with specific reference to how new knowledge work requires and develops a range of social, cognitive, and technological skills.


Keywords: Collaborative Knowledge, Epistemology, Youth, New Media, Google, Wikipedia
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , Just Google it!


Prof. Parlo Singh

Head of School, School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Parlo Singh is Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, Australia. Prof. Singh has led a number of large scale research projects that have dealt with issues of cultural identity, knowledge flows, pedagogies and transition networks. All of the projects aimed to address issues of educational inequality and cultural diversity, and make recommendations to those responsible for policy formulation, carriage and implementation. Prof Singh has worked with government authorities in addressing issues of educational equity and anti-racism in Queensland.

Natasha Giardina

Senior Research Assistant, School of Cultural and Language Studies
Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Natasha Giardina is a lecturer and senior research assistant in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. She has published articles, conference papers and essays on a range of topics including youth and new media, children's literature, science fiction and fantasy literature, and online role-playing games. She is currently completing her Doctorate of Philosophy at James Cook University (Cairns, Queensland).

Prof. Kerry Mallan

Professor, School of Cultural and Language Studies
Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Kerry Mallan is a Professor in the Education Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. She has published extensively with an output of 8 books and over 60 refereed papers/chapters spanning across literary studies, education, new media technologies, cultural studies, and utopian studies. Her latest co-authored book, New World Orders in Contemporary Children’s Literature, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2008. Her co-edited book, Youth Cultures: Texts, Images and Identities (Praeger, 2003), was awarded an Honour Book by the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. Kerry is currently working with Parlo Singh and Natasha Giardina on research that investigates the ways young people construct identities and form social relationships in their online and offline worlds. This project is funded for three years by the Australian Research Council Discovery Grants scheme. She is also part of another research team that is investigating the role of narrative and new media production in urban planning. This is a three-year project funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Grants scheme. Kerry is also an honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University.

Ref: T08P0295