Three thoughts on Text, Search and the Screen: Three questions and their answers in the reverse order
How do we reconcile Nel Nodding's assertion in Education and Democracy in the 21st Century that "[w]ith available technology, we can always find facts and details, we need not memorize long lists of them" (p. 42) with Daniel Willingham's statement in Why Don't Students Like School when he comes to "a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts" (Chapter 2, Kindle)?
How do we reconcile that strategies of "talking to the text" described in the Reading Apprentices Framework with the screen literacy skills required for taking computer based tests and the movement towards digital text?
Has search made citations an anachronism?
If you Google "a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts" the third search result will offer a summary of Willingham's book. When writing a paper, I have to include the publisher in the references list because [insert plausible reason here]. For some reason, I will spend half an hour figuring out periods and commas in a citation with the goal of [insert reasonable goal here]. Certainly there is a purpose in giving credit to the originator of an idea. Beyond that, it seems like the formal citation has become an anachronism. Listing the publisher and the year printed made sense if someone wanted to find a book in a bookstore, but bookstores don't exist anymore. A Google search for "Willingham a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable" leads to an entire first page of Daniel Willingham results, with multiple links to the book showing up. Even if you shorten the search to "Willingham scientifically challengeable" Google will still take you directly to the book or Dan Willingham's site.
Talking to the text can still work in a digital world, it will just look different. I use my Kindle to annotating and highlighting text. Again, we see search changing the way that we use text. I can easily electronically compile all my highlights into one document. I can search through my notes or for any key phrase in the text. In this case, we are still talking to the text, it just looks more like typing to the text. I am using a different input device, but still accomplishing the same tasks of noting important points and asking questions about the blurry parts. The real question comes about when taking a standardized tests, where highlighting the text on the screen is impossible. That is still a mystery as to how talking to the text will work.
Finally, Noddings later admits to the need for some basic knowledge. Willingham finds the memorization of 'longs lists of facts' useful for building up background knowledge, making connections and building new concepts. In this case, we'll trust the cognitive psychologist when he says that memorizing facts giving students a cognitive advantage.