Education always wins

There’s been a story that’s been persistently appearing in my readings over the weekend.

Teens have trouble telling between Google ads and search links

My first reaction was “Just teens?”

My second reaction was to think back to a story or a message that someone had shared that indicated that students find what they’re searching for in the first 10 results of a Google search.  (as an aside, I really wish I could remember that source)

My third reaction was that perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing.  After all, if a company makes a product and thinks that it’s the best in the market, it will pay for results placement so that people can find them.

My four reaction was sort of related to that – if the product is that good, then people will be buzzing about the product and it should appear near the top in some form or other.

On the other hand, if this is for classroom research, the student isn’t necessarily interested in making a purchase.  They may be interested in just how things work.

I decided to give it a test here.

My topic?  Something that’s the buzz around this house anyway.  “Elf lights”  (Don’t ask … I lost)

So, I fired up my browser with, as you know from over the weekend, I have ad blocking enabled and got the following result.

I tried the search again with the ad blocking turned off.

There’s a huge difference in the search results.

Now, in Google’s defence, the advertising is clearly identified…if you know what you’re looking for.

So, what’s the answer for students and schools?

Well, I suppose that we could ensure that all advertising is blocked at the school gateway.  Or, perhaps install an advertising blocker on all school computers.

What good does that do though when the student whips out her/his phone and does a search or uses their computer at home or their BYOD device at school?

You’d be forever chasing your tail.

The answer, as in most things, is good teaching and understanding of digital literacies.  That starts with good teachers incorporating what’s important into the classroom.

As the title here says, Education always wins.  I see a wonderful bulletin board display.



  1. Ad blocking is a more controversial issue than most people realize. You block ads partly to reduce bandwidth usage (on a slow connection) and improve page load times. You might also be trying to minimize the annoyance that ads can cause, or to minimize the security risk that [usually Flash-enabled] ads pose.
    Something we don’t often talk about, especially with students, is that ads pay for the Internet, and there’s a solid argument that stripping ads out of your web experience is unethical in that it’s accessing content without allowing the owner to monetize their work.
    To be clear, I’m a fan of the many benefits of ad blocking (especially the security benefit) but the damage it can do to content creators’ ability to earn a living is real. Up until recently ad blocking has been a tool for the skilled and savvy; as it becomes the default behaviour in browsers we’ll see an impact on content providers.
    I’d like to see more services offer ad-free versions for a price, and ad-free versions for schools at no cost.
    On the other hand, I also want kids to see “the real Internet” at school so they learn to use it safely. Maybe we should leave it alone…
    No answers from me, eh Doug? 🙂


  2. No answers, Brandon, but some great thinking. The “ad-free version for schools” is an interesting one to think about. How many sites make their primary income because of students visiting it? Probably more than you’d suspect? How would they determine a school visit versus another? By school board IP? Any other way would require that students log in with a school email and that’s not always advisable or even possible in some cases. Then, when the student visits from their home computer, what happens? The logistics is an interesting puzzle to try to solve. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – as you note, this not a simple problem to solve.


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