Why Google And Wikipedia Can Be Your Textbooks

If you’re like most students, you probably rely on the internet a lot to research for papers and presentations. But what about when you’re studying for a test? Or answering questions on a worksheet? Or if you’re just plain confused about a subject?

Don’t be afraid to look outside of your classroom for information or clarification on what you’re learning.

Knowledge is universal!

Unless you’re a graduate student studying cutting edge discoveries in your field, the stuff you’re learning about is probably pretty basic for that subject. There have been thousands of books, articles, and lectures covering Econ 101. Where do you think your textbook and instructor are getting their information? Unless your prof is making it up, they are getting their information from the same sources that you can find on the internet: scholarly journals, encyclopedias, news media, etc.

You should seek to learn instead of memorize. When you really get that point ingrained in your noggin, you won’t need to rely on your textbooks and teachers as much.

Finding answers on the internet is sometimes faster than searching through your textbook.

Have you ever come across a term in your textbook that just made you think, “What the $@%# does that mean?” and then spent half an hour paging through that textbook to find the definition of this word?

Try typing the word into Google, and you might be surprised that the first result is a dictionary definition or Wikipedia entry about that exact term.

Wikipedia is about as accurate as any other encyclopedia.

I know most teachers treat Wikipedia like the red-headed stepchild of encyclopedias, but it really is good! A study in 2005 found that Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica had about the same amount of errors.

Whether Wikipedia is an authoritative source of information for your research paper is a subject for another article. But when you’re just looking for understanding on a subject, Wikipedia rules.

Textbooks can suck at explaining stuff.

A lot of textbooks are just plain horrible at helping the reader understand the subject. If you’re reading a chapter that’s just really dense and hard to understand, hop onto Google and see what you can find.

Getting information phrased in many different ways will help you to understand the topic. You might have to read several different explanations until you find one that is written in a way that “works” for you.

Then there are those damn bold faced words. Some textbooks like to drop a ton of fancy technical terms on you and then give you a one sentence definition in the back of the book explaining it. Sometimes a one-sentence definition of a word just isn’t enough to understand what the heck they are talking about! If you want a little more clarification, look it up online.

There are all kinds of websites especially made for students of various subjects

You might be able to find a full-blown website that’s devoted to helping students of a specific subject. If not, a lot of professors will put their notes and lectures online for their students to read. These are really easy to find through Google.

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