Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
“Our digikids may have the ICT technical skills but they possess limited online information and critical evaluation skills and teachers don’t have strategies to teach these skills. “ These were the findings of a just published New Zealand study undertaken by Judine Ladbrook and Elizabeth Probert.
School librarians will find this research extremely relevant useful as the context of the research is the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum’s vision statement that young people will be, “confident, connected, actively involved and lifelong learners. Ludbrook and Probert describe the lifelong learner as “literate, critical thinkers who actively seek, use and create knowledge.” These are the attributes of an information literate person.
Their research involved three large Auckland secondary schools and began with 188 year 10 students and from those students 22 of the most active, experienced and skilled at using ICT and at seeking information on line were selected for the research.
The students undertook focus group discussions and surveys about how they used information from the internet and how the teachers helped them with the skills involved.
All 16 students used Google as their only search engine. The strategy for choosing a site was to enter the first listed site and they never went beyond the third listed site! Many students based their judgments of site trustworthiness on how the site looked. It was trustworthy if “it’s nicely presented, it’s not just white background, black writing” because that “shows a professionalism” and “it doesn’t have the adverts or pop ups.” Nearly all of the students felt that a internet site was accurate if it was well laid out and divided into chunks with sub-headings as this lent itself to accuracy and if it “sounded convincing it probably was true.”
The students’ strategy for using the information did not involve any synthesising but simple cutting and pasting. When they were asked to research using more than one source students 75% of the students used strategies such as putting in sites that they hadn’t used but which had come up on their initial Google search.
The students suggested that the prior knowledge work would enable them to judge information more accurately. The students did suggest that if teachers gave them several URLs, a couple of articles or chapters in books from which to choose information, and also built their prior knowledge, then they would be unable to plagiarise because teachers would know their information sources and also it would stop them from adding false references.
One of the key themes that emerged from the research was how little teachers helped students develop their research skills. Most of the students stated that little help had been given to them. There was often an assumption by their teachers that research skills had already been taught before students reached secondary school.
Some students got given a list of helpful sites but only a few were given some minimal help to research on the internet. None of them were given help to use books to research, apart from being taken to the library.
The authors suggest teachers conduct diagnostic work to see what students can do in the area of information literacy and in using online resources, and use this information to make pedagogical decisions for addressing the gaps.
With the advent of the new e-Learning Planning Framework in schools, enabling “students to be successful citizens in a digital world” the deliberate teaching of information literacy skills is even more crucial.
Ladbrook, J. & Probert, E. (2011), Information skills and critical literacy:
Where are our digikids at with online searching and are their teachers helping?
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(1), 105-121.
Have you ever wondered why two people doing exactly the same internet search can get two very different sets of results?
What happens is that web companies tailor their services, including news and search results, to our personal tastes. This personalisation is achieved by monitoring our searching behaviour and up to 57 other factors, including the type of computer and browser being used and our geographic location; and then tailoring the search results to achieve a ‘best fit’ with our profile.
In a recent TED talk, Eli Pariser argues that this means that we get trapped in a “filter bubble” and are not exposed to information that could challenge us or broaden our thinking. A case of being shown information that our personal profile suggests we want, rather than what we need to see.
This is another reason to encourage students to use a variety of searches and resources to verify information that they find, before they form their own conclusions.
Then discuss with staff and students whether increasing personalisation and the existence of ‘filter bubbles’ should change their searching behaviour.
image by: zzub nik
The app is incredibly easy to use, and much less fiddly than the old star chart/ torch combo that many of us amateur astronomers have relied on in the past! You just point your phone at the sky to see which stars, constellations and planets (neatly labelled) you are looking at. As you move your phone the map scrolls automatically and shows you the celestial objects in every direction. You can also switch to manual mode and explore the star charts yourself.
Looking for a specific star? Want to check out Mars? There is a very handy search function. You type in the object you want to see and an arrow directing you there will pop up on your screen. I really appreciate the constellation maps as they make it simple to pick out the complicated shapes in the sky, and I also like being able to quickly put names to the visible planets.
Any students studying astronomy would benefit hugely from this app, and it will turn stargazing homework into an easy and enjoyable family activity, so their parents will love it too! Sky Map would also be attractive to any student interested in Greek mythology (or Percy Jackson fans) and I would suggest promoting it in conjunction with a quality book of myths and legends so that students can read all about the stars’ namesakes. It will work during the daytime, so you could even use it during class to get your students hooked.
Have you ever used Google Sky Map? Are there any similar apps that you like?
image by mirindas27
In April this year Daniel Russell launched a new game which tests your Google searching skills in the form of a daily challenge.
A Google a Day(AGAD)is a great way to test your students’ (and staff) search skills as they pit themselves against each daily challenge. “There is no right way but only one right answer” which allows searchers to use their experience of Google to win the challenge.
Searchers can either play normally or race the clock which adds another level of complexity to the game. Help is provided to guide the searcher and also to highlight searching tips they might not already know.
Daniel Russell the creator of the game also has an interesting blog about the learning and teaching of effective search skills.
For those of you with a wiki or blog you can embed a widget for AGAD. You will find further information and the code for the widget on the LibraryFit blog.
This would be a great way to encourage students to hone their Google search skills and learn new things along the way.
Is anyone using this in their school already?
A blog post prior to the launch of the game.
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