Friday, October 8, 2010

Media Specialists As Hyprocrites, OR Can We Really Tame the Web?

OK, now that I have your attention....   :  )

I'm just commenting on a random thought that crossed my mind as I clicked on my Instapaper backlog, while looking through the 1000+ entries in my reader, after just telling someone yesterday how woefully behind I am on my YA reading, having now taken on the K-5 group, which means I have some serious catching up to do on my children's lit, on top of keeping up with the news.  And I haven't read my Twitter feed in weeks!

Yet there I was yesterday, blithely assuring a group of overwhelmed 10th graders embarking on the extensive researched needed for their MYP personal projects, that I would show them the tools that would allow them to manage it all.

Who am I kidding??!

And if I'm overwhelmed, it's no wonder that the students, once we convince them there is more to the information world than Google and Wikipedia, stand stunned by the sheer volume of what's available to them.  I used to try to show it "all" to them.  Once I'd explained databases and the OPAC, we would spend a few days on "the web."  We'd talk portals and search engines and advanced tools and browser add-ons and RSS feeds.

I don't know if any of it sank in.  I thought I was preparing them for the vast online world, but I now think less is more.  I need to tame myself, not the web.  I will now teach a core set of manageable tools and skills, saving broader/deeper instruction for a one-on-one as needed basis.  To wit:

1)  Basic search skills, obviously.  Keywords, Boolean (at least the concept), quotation marks,  narrowing domains.  A few of the Google options, such as the wonder wheel.

2)  Specific portals, two or three depending on research focus.

3)  Two or three specific search engines, such as Google Books, Intute,  and Infomine.  I'm actually not all that fussed about Google Scholar, and tend to mention it in passing, then talk about why it's not very useful, unless you're at a big univesity.  Specifically, much of the content is behind a pay wall.

4)  Evernote, NoodleTools and  I'm a recent NoodleTools convert.  I never used to like it because I thought their citation tool was FAR too lengthy and cumbersome.  With wonderful tools like BibMe available, why should students go through that process, if even I wouldn't?   They now have a shortened MLA version, however.  So I'm trying it this year (mostly for the note cards options), and will survey students for their response to it.

I also used to show them iCyte  (which I will use instead of EverNote for middle-schoolers) and Diigo, in the belief that it's good to have options.  Now I think it just confuses them.  I really love Diigo, I might add, but it relies too heavily on good tagging for its organizational structure.  Students still need folders.

I'm still teaching the same content, I'm just increasingly convinced a large part of our technology job is to assess, winnow, and present the most useful options--much like developing a collection.

1 comment:

  1. Did you see where NoodleTools now supports collaborative authoring?!