Week 6 Blog 668

Essential Question: What are the Challenges in Shifting from “What” to “Where” and “How”?

In today’s culture of learning, students can access information at the touch of a button. They can access what they want, when they want and have the information in a second. The challenge is in getting the students to know where to find the information and how to find the information.

I have noticed this with some of my students. If we are working on a project that requires them to search for something, they often Google it or use Wikipedia and use the first sort of information they find. They don’t try to see if this is a valid site or if the information is accurate. Muthler (2015) notes that information retrieval “can be a challenging lesson to teach.”In a study by PEW, teachers reported that students lacked patience and determination when doing a research project (Muthler, 2015). They think because information is on a Google site or Wikipedia it must be true. I have found this a challenge as well. When I assign a research project, I give my students specific sites to use that are accurate and reliable. By doing this, I cut out the students’ randomly searching other sites and not knowing if that is a quality source.  I know I should teach them how to use the Internet but find that time is too short. We talk about it, but I don’t really go into teaching about it. I just tell them to use the sites I provide.

The book A New Culture of Learning states that 63% of Americans could not find Iraq on a map but, put them on a computer, and 100% were able too. Students are used to information being given to them. I find this a little upsetting. Even though they can find Iraq on a computer, I want them to be able to look at a map and be able to point it out and, if it is in the news, they can relate to which part of the world it is in. A computer being able to find Iraq becomes a “where?” question. Now they can access all sort of information on Iraq. It opens up a new culture of learning.

Schrock (2012) has a guide to evaluating websites. It is called The 5 W’s of Website Evaluation. I think this is good for students to know. The 5 W’s are:

Who: Who wrote the page and are they an expert?

What: What is the purpose of the site?

When: When was this site created and last updated?

Where: Where does the information come from and where can I look to find more about the sponsor of the site?

Why: Why is this information useful for my purpose? Should I use this one? (Created by Kathy Schrock)

If I can give students information like this, I can help them to adapt to learning how to sort out the information they find on the web. Students have no trouble finding the information; they just need to know how to sort through the information and see which ones to use. I give my students specific sites to use because often students get lost in the web. They will start searching for a topic and click on some information, and that will take them to another site and to another and, before you know it, they are off topic. I am sure they learn more about this in high school but, if I just gave a lesson or two on how to find quality information, I think I would help them become more critical learners, and that is what I want for my students.

References

Muthler, S. (2015). Helping Students Become Better Online Researchers. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.edudemic.com/students-better-online-researchers/

Schrock, K. (2012). Critical Evaluation. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.schrockguide.net/critical-evaluation.html

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: Soulellis Studio.

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7 thoughts on “Week 6 Blog 668

  1. I can’t remember what grade you teach, but Common Sense media has some good lessons for teaching Internet searches and reliable sites. I am finding it challenging when my students do research online they want to copy and paste alot of what they read. They think as long as they cite the website they are good. They are in 5th grade, so I am constantly reminding them they can’t copy half or more of an article, they need to summarize in their own words.

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  2. I’m so glad you mentioned the research! I have the same issues and I also give students sites to use so that they aren’t grabbing whatever information some other student stuck on a blog for a class project and hoping it’s correct. I’ve often talked to other teachers in saying that a technology class should be required for middle school students to learn about how to use technology appropriately and safely. I wish our district would get on board with something like this because it could be so beneficial to students. They need to learn these things, but we don’t have the time to teach them in our classes. By the time they get to me in high school, I’m spending so much time trying to prep them for testing, that teaching about technology ends up on the back burner and rarely gets to make it into lesson plans.

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  3. I’m glad you mentioned your trouble with researching. I want to try this in my class and I’ll have to watch for the site they choose to use. Thanks for the tips. I agree that this is of great importance.

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  4. I can completely understand the limited time in classes to adequately teach the research skills, however, I don’t agree that teaching them separately is the way to go. That would go back to teaching the “what” which is the research skills without the context of when, where, and how those should be applied. It might help to do this at the beginning and then have a “process” or litmus test for sites that is part of the rubric. Often times when students are just using the first answer they come up on, it’s because they just want to get it over with or because the assignment requires an answer. If the assignment required a vetted or well-researched answer and would be graded by that standard, you might have them digging deeper. I like to have students “triangulate” information – they have to find at minimum three (3) unrelated sources that say the same thing.

    I also can’t help but disagree that a paper map of Iraq would show students how much the region has been impacted by conflict over the last two decades. Ethnic, population, tribal, language, and demographic maps that can only be illustrated or shared (and updated) digitally or online can give students real-time results and data that cannot possibly be updated realistically on paper maps. And I disagree that identifying a country on a paper map can help a student relate to the region, its people, or the conflict that continues to plague that country. I imagine if someone from Iraq told me that they could relate to Alaska and what it is like to live here because they can find it on a paper map, I would definitely be skeptical.

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  5. I agree, it is tough when they feel anything out there is the truth. We have to guide them through, teaching them to sift through the masses. Hootsuite has a pretty neat site that is titled, “Back to (Old) School: Remember the Basics of Teaching Social Media.” It has a lot of great sites to use when teaching social media. Having them work together and log everything down can help them to have support from others in deciding if it is a site that is useful or not.

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