Intute reports on some new UK research on mobile internet use among students. Tangentially, the report confirms what I’ve commented on here several times…

“… it was clear from across the focus groups and depth interviews that students [ second year undergraduate students from a range of disciplines and universities ] received low quality training on using the Internet for academic research, with most guidance limited to using on-line university library resources and a broad introduction on how to use search engines.”

I suppose the question is… why? In the face of an unprecedented and growing level of open access to knowledge, why do so many of the Web generation (*) manage to reach the second year of a degree course without anyone actually teaching them to search properly and fully? Don’t blame information overload for the reason why people can’t find quality stuff. Blame search illiteracy.

It also seems odd that the world appears to be filled with Twitter and Facebook workshops, yet professional-level workshops in advanced search are as rare as a dodo. Personally, I try to give all my undergraduate classes a short live ‘Web Search Masterclass’ early in the semester. No-one ever complains “…but we did this with the librarian / sixth form / school”.

   * the average second-year student would have been aged 5 or 6 when Netscape 2.0 appeared, alongside cheap £10-a-month net access and cheap modems. When they entered their secondary school Google was hitting one billion URLs indexed. When they left school at 16, their parents were swopping dial-up internet access for broadband.