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.
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.