September brings the start of a new school year, and once classes begin, it’s not long before the first research reports and projects are assigned. To get started, your child will head right to his or her computer; however, adult assistance at home ensures that a student uses quality sources, as well as develop stronger 21st Century research skills.
Just about any time digital kids search for information at home, they fire up Google. While their teachers use substantial classroom time and energy introducing students to the best online research resources, children often need assistance, not to mention frequent reminders about applying these research lessons on their home computers.
As often as possible adults should remind children that results from Google — as wonderful as Google searching is — provide a huge number of links, many of them of questionable quality. A better way to search for information is to access library online resources and databases — the crown jewels of student research (Links at the bottom of this post will take readers to a few libraries that describe their virtual databases.) Searching in these databases decreases quantity and dramatically increases quality — which, in turn improves the caliber of a student’s assignment. A web page chart at Illinois Institute of Technology compares Google searches and database inquiries. A library tutorial from Western Oregon University also compares research on Google and online databases.
Take your child on a tour of the online resources and databases available at your school, district, or public library website. Use this library search link to find your local public library. Dozens of online resources, freely available, provide information vetted by professionals. Be sure to also check your child’s school library website.
Online resources at any given library include some or all of the following:
- articles databases
- biographical dictionaries
- facts on file
- video clip collections
- science and history databases
- photo archives
- other specialized reference books and collections
Examples of Library Online Database Websites (to use most require library cards or student enrollment)