We can all agree that technology strongly shapes how we conduct research. The very idea of “research” has monumentally changed in this digital world. The approach in which this is carried out effectively still needs to be addressed in our schools. Our students have the use of multiple devices at their disposal. It is now about how we harness this power to help our young people obtain relevant, trustworthy and rich information that will drive their learning.
How can schools address this ‘skills’ gap?Educators are now faced with the task of teaching and embedding research skills or competencies by utilising technology in new and innovative ways. Teaching research skills in isolation is not an effective way to help our students. Students must be armed with a project to manage that requires well-intentioned research. Our young people need to recognise that there is a need to judge the quality and merit of information. This is clearly a skill which an immense number of educators consider to be central to effective research.
According to a recent study carried out by the Pew Research Centre, 2012, many teachers openly acknowledged that they do not feel suitably qualified to teach genuine research with their classes. The study identifies that a ‘good use’ of technology can give our young people the tools to research more fruitfully. The study identifies that it is not a good idea to give students an ‘isolated weighty’ research project. It is important to provide smaller, ongoing manageable projects in which educators can provide ongoing feedback and support.
Technology is providing our students with quick and easy ways of carrying out research. Web based tools such as Instagrok are designed to help our students to develop the ability to research, curate and synthesis information. EasyBib now enables our students to build their own bibliographies with ease and precision. EasyBib’s beta research area now provides students with the ability to share citations with others.
It is both the role of the teacher and library staff to communicate with our young people the difference between a project that is plagiarised and a project that is not. It is vital that educators utilise and share the wealth of knowledge and expertise of their colleagues to provide the most creditable learning experiences for our students.
The library staff play a significant role in embedding effective research skills to both our students and to our teachers. As identified above by the Pew Research, 2012, we need to also provide professional learning experiences to our teachers to equip them with ability to transfer effective research competencies in the digital age. We are in exciting times!
Image is taken from Corbis Royalty free images:
Adam is a research, library and computing teacher at Newington College, Sydney. Working as part of the library team, he is heavily involved driving information literacy across the school. He has a keen interest in research education and technology.