Internet Only Bibliography?

The Gotham Gal posted today about a debate raging in our house this week.

Jessica wanted to turn in a paper with a bibliography that only contained Internet URLs.  That’s not allowed at her school.  She needs to read some books and consider some other offline sources.

The unanimous feeling in our home is that the school’s policy is antiquated.  With Google Scholar and the coming Google Library, we’ll have most of the same books that Jessica is supposed to be going to the libary to review available online.  And you’ve got and Wikipedia.  The list of amazing online research resources just keeps growing and growing.

So The Gotham Gal told the school principal that she thought the "no Internet only bibliographies policy" was wrong.  He came back with a very thoughtful response.  He said the "instant gratification" (my words not his) of internet research was leading to "cut and paste" (again my words not his) reports and the reason he wants kids to use offline resources is that it forces them to take time and think and construct real reports.

Now that’s a great point.  He’s right about that.  I see it in Jessica’s work to be honest.  It’s good, but it does feel a little manufactured. 

But I wonder if technology isn’t a better solution to that problem.  What if instead of creating paper reports, the kids had to post their reseach and thoughts online, subject them to comment and editing online, and evolve them over time from raw research to thoughtful considered online papers?

Maybe that’s too much change in the system to expect in too short a time period.  But I think that embracing technology is ultimately the solution to the problem because like it or not, our kids are going to use digital technology to do their work.  We’d better show them how to do it well or risk creating a generation of cut and pasters.