For student researchers, understanding how to use methods like this and having the ability to connect to experts and peers who deeply understand specific areas of knowledge can add valuable perspective and broader connections to a topic of research. Even from early grades, we recommend having a class Twitter account. We also recommend having the aforementioned hashtag handout in a public place near a classroom computer.
As questions come up in class, have specific individuals send out these questions and request further information from the “Twittersphere.” As they do this, encourage students to identify the best hashtag to target their queries. Then, as students begin to develop new content that brings together what they have learned, have them share their thinking and their products with others—again, using the appropriate hashtags. In time, this will become second nature for students and will demonstrate how these tools can be used ethically and educationally.
For Zack, sharing and inquiring about the research he found on the professor’s website using the hashtag #holocaust could have been quite eye-opening. Through making powerful connections and digging deeper into the content he was learning with others who share a passion for this topic, Zack could have gained further insight on the legitimacy of the information he found.
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For more information about Building Learning Communities 2012, to be held in Boston July 15-20, click here. Get $100 off the cost of registration when you enter the promo code eSchoolMedia12.
Conclusion: Good research hasn’t changed
In the 14 years since the original writing of “Teaching Zack to Think,” the web has seen dramatic changes in the quantity and variety of information to which we all have access. What hasn’t changed is the need to learn how to properly navigate and make the most of these resources. We must remember that good research is still good research. The technology we access each day hasn’t changed our need to bring rigor and purpose into the work that students do. Understanding the three pillars of modern-day web literacy will take students to new levels of ability. By helping students like Zack further develop skills in finding, organizing, and making sense of information, whether in books or online, we will be preparing them for greater opportunities to thrive—no matter what changes technology has in store in the future.
In our next article, we’ll provide guidance for teaching students critical web research skills—the first pillar in our three-part web literacy framework. More information can be found at http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources.
Alan November is the founder and Brian Mull is the director of innovation at November Learning. They invite your questions through their website at http://www.novemberlearning.com.
Join Alan, Brian, and other educators from around the world at the Building Learning Communities conference (BLC12) in Boston this July, where Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble, will be one of the keynote speakers. Use the discount key eSchoolMedia12 to get $100 off the cost of registration; go to http://blcconference.com.