Teachers apply a variety of technologies to meet students’ learning needs:
"As new technologies prove useful and become available in schools, teachers develop their own and their students’ proﬁciencies in using the technologies purposefully, which may include content presentation, delivery and research applications, as well as word processing, information management and record keeping"
- Teaching Quality Standard Applicable to the Provision of Basic Education in Alberta (KSAs)
In regard to research, I usually use Google's search bar and enter specific words associated to the topic I want to learn more about. This strategy has proved to be helpful in the past but not the most effective because it often yields too much information to sift through. I usually end up browsing the first two or three websites in the first page of the search and wonder if the information is the most valid and insightful around. If necessary, I would do a more advance search by entering narrower keywords, using a different search engine or going to a specific online journal such as JSTOR for more academic sources. These research strategies are limited, however, as I've had many experiences of completely unsuccessful searches.
One way to improve my research skills and my students' is through the Step Zero Activity. This activity is very useful in getting students to think critically about a topic and make relevant connections. By specifically identifying what we are looking for first, we can learn to become knowledge seekers that actively seek out relevant components of content to build our own structures of knowledge. In a study on research strategies and hypertext navigation, Lawless & Kulikowich highlight how important knowledge seeking is in our digital society and how different it is from being feature seekers or apathetic hypertext users.
Another tool for effective research is the unique search engine, InstaGrok. It enables users to research a topic through an interactive map that can be divided into further related concepts or topics. Check out a Demo video here:
Research can be a powerful tool for challenging our thinking processes and exploring new perspectives. The experience itself cannot be possible without the internet. Studies have shown, however, that having information at our fingertips produces cognitive consequences on our memory. While this may sound negative and detrimental, the consequences outlined in Sparrow's research may simply indicate that we are adapting to a rapidly changing society where information is everywhere, hence, the term information overload that comes up more and more in our lives. The real challenge I believe is in learning how to retrieve, analyze, and synthesize relevant information effectively for our own purpose. In the aspect of managing the information we amass, it is important to recognize that we are cognitively limited as humans and it is here that we can use technology and the internet to our advantage.
Lawless, K. A., and Kulikowich, J. M., (1998). Domain Knowledge, Interest, and Hypertext Navigation: A study of individual differences, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 7(1), 51-69.
Sparrow, B., Liu, J., and Wegner, D.M. (2011) Google effects on memory: Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips. Science, 333: 776-778.