Digital Research – Essential Skills

I had two experiences this week that brought home the message strongly visualized in the excellent graphic below by

In one class I visited students were conducting some independent research to review a topic. They were using each other, their textbooks, class notes and their laptops to clarify any concepts and terms that still seemed fuzzy. Over and over again I am shocked by how students go about searching. I frequently ask students what strategies they use when I’m visiting classes. Despite our best efforts to teach search strategies across the curriculum it seems some students never move beyond the default: ‘I just type my question into the search box. ‘ Then, from the seven million or so hits they get they simply pick from the first page that comes up. How do we support students to move beyond this threshold?!

The other situation was a conversation with librarians from another school. We were meeting to share how we are tackling the challenge of Creating a Culture of Citation. It was a rich discussion and again it highlighted the need for students to become much more competent at digital research including developing effective search strategies, in evaluating and validating sources, and citing sources appropriately.

As points out:

the instant gratification of the modern search engine certainly may pose some unhealthy research habits

Digital research skills are essential to master for life in the digital age. If we are serious about preparing students for life, then these skills need to be taught and reinforced across every discipline.

Digital Research Infographic



Self management skills for 21C learning

I loved reading Cathy Davidson‘s book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention will change the way we live, work and learn. I appreciated her examples and stories about the changing environment that has swept over us. Instead of blaming technology, she presents models of adaption and ideas of how we, and the young people we work with, might navigate in it without being overwhelmed it. I was reminded that ‘change is the only constant’ and to manage change we must be adaptive and strategic.

Self management and strategy were at the heart of Friday’s follow-up session to Think Big About Learning. With help from some savvy students we highlighted for grade 9 & 10 students some strategies and tools to help them manage distractions.

We also had a blitz on search. On my ‘learning walks‘ through classes in the past few weeks I’ve been surprised that most kids were not using any particular strategies in their searches – other than throwing some words into the search window. We gave them three simple strategies to try. – visual search source tool

I was been browsing the latest Comunication Arts ‘Interactive (issue 16) and came across an article about ‘Compfight’ an easy to use and inspiring visual search tool.

The screen grab above was for a search on ‘cups’ – pages and pages of cups to be inspired by! I have shared this tool with my Graphic Design and AP Studio Arts students since they so often need some visual reference material. They can search Creative Commons images.