Tag Archives: Google

Searching the scriptures (without Google’s help)

This post takes its name from the title of my presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, coming up November 23–26 in Baltimore. I will present in the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies section in the 9:00 AM session on Monday, November 25 (Hilton Baltimore, Key 1). Here’s the abstract:

In many colleges and universities, we have already reached the point where a student’s (or professor’s!) first impulse when confronted with a desire for new information is to “Google it.” With the increasing power of small mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, students are rarely more than a few taps away from whatever online information sources they choose to access. The ubiquity of Google searches poses at least two specific challenges for biblical studies courses: (i) it enables students to rely more heavily than ever on secondary sources rather than primary sources, and (ii) it conditions students to rely less on memory and more on quick access to indexed information. Using a digital Bible instead of a paper Bible can accommodate and even “redeem” the second challenge while somewhat counterbalancing the first. In this presentation, I will describe how I have leveraged the ubiquity of smart devices to teach and test digital Bible search skills in “Religion 101: The History and Religion of Israel.” I will share specific apps and exercises used to help students climb the “scaffold” from Bible search novices to more skilled navigators of digital Bibles.

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Searching the scriptures (without Google’s help)

Bible+-by-Olive-Tree-app-iconMost of my students nowadays carry around tiny computers that afford them almost instant access to practically limitless information. Many of us now use Google (or similar search engines) as our starting point in any quest for existing data. Skill and good judgment in accessing and using data have outstripped memorization of data as core competencies for modern life. However, defaulting to Google or Wikipedia searches to find material within the Bible can actually distance users from the Bible, by placing the biblical text itself behind a nearly limitless wall of secondary sources. To help my students better appreciate the value of enaging primary sources and to help them develop more sophisticated searching habits, I switched a year or so ago to requiring students to use digital, searchable Bibes in my introductory courses. I’ll share some of my experiences using Olive Tree’s Bible Study App (a.k.a. BibleReader or Bible+) to teach this type of “searching the scriptures” at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Baltimore this November. I don’t yet know the specific schedule, but I’ll make this presentation in one of the sessions put on by the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies unit.

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