Why Google Can’t Save Us

The Challenges of our Post-Gutenberg Moment
  • Sam WineburgEmail author
  • Joel Breakstone
  • Sarah McGrew
  • Teresa Ortega


The Stanford History Education Group has prototyped, field tested, and validated a bank of assessments that tap civic online reasoning—the ability to judge the credibility of the information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets, and computers. We developed 56 tasks and administered them to students across 12 states. In total, we collected and analyzed 7,804 student responses. From pre-teens to seniors in college, students struggled mightily to evaluate online information. To investigate how people determine the credibility of digital information, we sampled 45 individuals: 10 PhD historians, 10 professional fact checkers, and 25 Stanford University undergraduates. We observed them as they evaluated websites and engaged in open web searches on social and political issues. Historians and students often fell victim to easily manipulated features of websites, such as official-looking logos and domain names.


Civic Online Reasoning Critical Thinking Digital Literacy Internet Media Literacy Information Credibility 


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam Wineburg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joel Breakstone
    • 1
  • Sarah McGrew
    • 1
  • Teresa Ortega
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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