In this module we discussed the different facets of research and it’s importance in education. Many students leave High School with a primitive understanding of the logistics of research. We need to make it a focus as educators to model more effective research practices for our students, so that they leave our classrooms prepared for future endeavors with a more diverse and useful skill set.
Lawless and Kulikowich (1998) state that individuals can be placed into three-learner hypertext types the knowledge seeker, feature seeker and apathetic user. At any given time, I show the traits of each and every one of these types. Predominantly I am a knowledge seeker. I typically am not on the Internet for any reason other than to learn something. The only time I am apathetic is when I am on certain Social Media sites and find myself browsing. However, the vast majority of the time I am actively seeking out knowledge components of knowledge.
When I am using search engines I typically begin with the basic search bar, using specific key words and phrases that I know I am interested in for what I am doing. From here, once I have begun to narrow down my findings, I may then go into a more advanced search. Most commonly, I will use an advanced search if there is a specific article I am looking for (perhaps one that was referenced in an article I was reading, that may have valuable information).
Something I did not know was how different the results may be depending on which browser you use. When I searched “chemical bonding” on “SearchO” and “Ixquick” similar results came up, but not exactly the same. I think this is extremely valuable for educators to understand and teach their students. Something as simple as the search engine we choose to use will drastically effect the results we obtain, not even taking into account all the other variables that affect our results. In the TED Talk “The Filter Bubble” Eli Pariser (2011) demonstrates that even using the same search engine on two different computers, will produce different results. Again, this is something that I didn’t realize. Search engines can use your past searches and most frequently visited websites to filter the results they produce. Again, this is a valuable lesson to teach our students.
Knowing this, we need to begin working with students to help them develop a respect for information and all that is out there. One tool, out of many possible options, that could be used to do this is the educational search engine “InstaGrok”. This search engine effectively uses visuals to organize information in a pleasing way to promote student engagement and learning. Key facts, websites, videos, images, quizzes and a glossary are all provided to promote student learning. Perhaps the best feature of this website, even for a concrete sequential learner like myself, is the use of a web to show the connection between the central concept and key facts related to it. By clicking on any key fact, additional related concepts appear to show the intricacies in topics being studied. This graphic organizer will help students to become more engaged in their learning. I’ve already started to think of ways that I could use this search engine with my students in my Fall Internship.
Search engines have drastically changed the way our brains function (Sparrow, Liu, & Wegner, 2011). Research by Sparrow et al. (2011) has shown that people are more likely to forget information that they know is readily available online. Think about all of the knowledge outcomes that we teach our students, which cannot be found online? Are there any? For every knowledge outcome, students can find something about that topic online. What about the skills, attitude and science and society (for science majors) outcomes? Are those as easily found online? With the addition of things like YouTube, it is possible to learn certain lab techniques, but the true skills that are transferable to the “real world” cannot be learned from a simple, or advanced, search. As we progress in education, I think it is important to keep this research in mind.
In each classroom, we should be striving to provide our students will authentic learning opportunities. I believe that the Internet really allows us to provide an authentic learning environment for each and every student. This also helps to move teachers away from being viewed as content curators. Sure, we have a curriculum and there are concepts that the government has mandated students learn. However, I argue that how the student learns the material and in which direction they take this learning in a Performance Task, is where the learning becomes truly authentic. Once this has been achieved, the teacher no longer is controlling the student, but rather their own personal interests are driving their learning towards self-actualization. The buzz of student excitement and passion for learning is what should be driving our classes. This idea is further supported by Sir Ken Robinson (2009) who states that education needs to be transformed through personalization, building on the talents of each child and putting students in an environment where they want to learn and can discover their true passions. We can begin this shift by teaching students how to effectively research what intrigues them, not what we place into a box and call interesting.
We need to continually be asking ourselves, what is it we want our students to be able to do when they leave our classroom? Is it really relevant that they know the VSEPR shape for various molecules? Or are they better off learning critical thinking skills that they can carry forth with them into the workplace, or further education, to make them valuable contributing members to society? I had a brilliant Organic Chemistry Professor at Mount Royal University, who told us that she didn’t care what we could memorize, but rather what we understood and how we applied those understandings was what she felt was truly important; I would argue she had it right.
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.
Pariser, E. (2011, May). The filter bubble [Video File]. Retrieved July 4, 2013 from http://www.thefilterbubble.com/ted-talk
Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). The element: How finding your passion changes everything. New York City, NY:Viking Penguin.
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.