Can Indonesians Think?

6548522Have you tried to find particular information using search engine available on the Internet and it ends at getting tons of answers within seconds? Indeed, the Internet can be very helpful, but it also can be overwhelming. With the vast development of ICT and information contained in it, finding information on almost about anything can be very quick and easy within seconds. However, provided with rich multiple perspectives which grow so fast on the Internet, students may find it difficult to effectively elaborate all relevant information for their purpose.

This situation is concisely described by Rhynard (2002) and Bradshaw, et al. (2002). Rhynard (2002) mentions several weaknesses of using Internet search. First, the students often get so much information that they lose sight of the research objective. Second, information given is so broad that students have trouble shifting through it to decide what is useful. Third, determining whether the Internet source contains true or reliable information is another problem. Students tend to believe that everything on the Internet is true. Fourth, students have limited time in the computer lab and may not have access to technology in the home to continue this research. Fifth is accessing appropriate sites. Although schools have filters, students can still contact some inappropriate sites. In addition, Bradshaw, et al. (2002) stated that there are three major problems associated with learning on the Internet; they are navigational disorientation, information overload, and distraction. As we know, zillions of information available on the Internet on a particular issue and this may create overload of information. It then usually creates disorientation where students may lose the focus of the materials search and become tired. Many times, web pages are unorganized because of nonlinear hypertext environment they have.

These may create disconnection between students’ cognitive demands and learning of new knowledge (MacGregor & Lou, 2005 in Ikpeze and Boyd, 2007). In expressing ideas, for instance, given tons of information from the Internet can be somehow excessive for the students and may disorient them. It is a matter of effectively selecting and organizing materials read. But how? Sometimes, students learning English (especially those in ESL/EFL context) find it difficult to state ideas and opinion in public, either in spoken or written means. Watson & Biggs (1996) describe this situation as students’ reluctance to paraphrase, especially if the original words are better in English compared to their imperfect English. One of the effects can be plagiarism and it is a serious matter since it deals with academic integrity/honesty.

There are several effective ways to avoid plagiarism. Apart from having cognitive (over)load and information explosion, having a thinking framework will be very important in shaping thoughts. Apparently, it takes a lot of information gathering and reading. Taking notes on selected resources, putting the information on a table, or creating a mind map using software (i.e. Inspiration or FreeMind) can be helpful. Continuously checking the works using plagiarism detection tools, such as Plagiarisma, Viper, or Turnitin will make one realize that rich resources available in recent years need to be deeply elaborated and analysed to avoid copy.

This is only a small thought for all of us to be more aware that this issue of “copy-paste” is something dangerously serious. The institution should have been developing a standard that applies to all components regarding with this matter. For now, after being more aware of this issue, to be effective in searching, internalising, and integrating information will be lots of practice. One cannot expect to have something good at first attempt, especially when it deals with academic contexts. Doesn’t it say that “practice makes perfect?” Well, can you think now? (and it is not simply copy-pasting).

Further Reading
Bradshaw, A. C., Bishop, J. L., Gens, L. S., Miller, S.L., & Rogers, M. A. (2002). The relationships of the World Wide Web to thinking skills. Educational Media International, 39, 275-284.

Ikpeze, C. H., & Byod, F. B. (2007). Web-based inquiry learning: Facilitating thoughtful literacy with WebQuests. The Reading Teacher, 60, 644-654.

Rhynard, M. (2002). The WebQuest as an instructional strategy. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Watkins, D. A., & Biggs, J. B. (1996). The Chinese learner in retrospect. In D. A. Watkins & J. B. Biggs (Eds.), The Chinese learner: Cultural, psychological and contextual influences (pp. 269-285). Hong Kong/Melbourne: Comparative Education Research Centre/Australian Council for Educational Research.


  1. The title is inspired by a book entitled Can Asians Think? By Kishore Mahbubani in 2002.
  2. This post had been published in The Splash Magazine, November 2011, p. 15. You can read the article in a digital format here.
  3. I also wrote this earlier in my website but decided to put another backup here for future purpose.

©mhsantosa (2013)
I am happy to share this. Please feel free to reblog or share the link, all with my accreditation. Thank you.

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