Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital citizenship, digital devices and gadgets, digital parenting, leadership, research on the web

Back-to-School Research Tips: Use Curated Online Databases

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.                       Continue reading “Back-to-School Research Tips: Use Curated Online Databases”

Posted in 21st Century parenting, Back-to-school digital reading, curated resources, digital citizenship, online learning, parents and technology, searching

Teaching Kids to Search Well and Evaluate What They Find

TechforSuccessMy post, Back-to-School Research Tip: Help Your Child Use Curated Online Databases, is posted over at the Platform for Good website. It describes strategies that parents and educators can use to help children understand more about quality searching and help 21st Century kids become better evaluators of their search results.

To get the new school year started in a digitally sensible way, please take a few minutes to read my post and learn ways to direct 21st Century children to resources curated by experts, materials chosen to help students get good results when they search. The more they encounter quality search results, the better they will become at recognizing poor quality when they use a less curated searching tool.

On the same page, at the right, is a wonderful graphic called Tech for Success that I will definitely use as a handout with students and their parents during the 2014-15 school year. Similar to an acrostic poem, the graphic uses the word “success,”  spelling it down the left-hand side of the page and attaching an important digital citizenship message to each letter of the word.

Posted in 21st Century parenting, acceptable use, American Academy of Pediatrics, digital devices and gadgets, digital kids, parent child conversations, parents and technology

9 Suggestions to Help Families Think About Digital Device Moderation

Designed using images from the Apple website.
Designed using images from the Apple website.

I love my iPhone and iPad, and I cannot do many things without them. For children under 13, however, use time should be carefully monitored by each family. Kids today are playing independently with powerful devices, and they — the devices and the children — are not intended to interact in isolation and for long periods without adult supervision.

An article that provides food for thought, Your Phone Versus Your Heart, appeared in the March 23, 2013 New York Times. Also, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics media resources — the pediatricians are making recommendations because they know what they are talking about.

Just today I asked a group of device-savvy fifth graders, most around age 10, if they know anything about SnapChat, the app that deletes pictures in one to ten seconds (leaving plenty of time for a recipient with poor judgment to take a screenshot and save the photo). Just about every hand went up. During a lesson a few months ago I asked them how many of them know how to make a screenshot — and they can all do it in a lot less than ten seconds. Read my SnapChat review here.

A Few Social Media Supervision Suggestions            Continue reading “9 Suggestions to Help Families Think About Digital Device Moderation”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning, digital parenting, evaluating web site resources, online research, parents and technology, research on the web

10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information

goodwebsitebadwebsiteAlthough I am a big fan of encouraging students to begin any research project with curated resources such as the online databases at a school or public library, I know that many learners head straight for Google.

When students make garden-variety searches on Google, teach them to investigate and ask questions about what they find, especially if they are planning to use a website to learn more about a topic. The strongest 21st Century learners will make the process of asking evaluative questions second nature — examining each and every site before deciding whether or not to use the information.

Questions to Ask About Any Digital Resource          Continue reading “10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information”

Posted in digital parenting, online databases, parent child conversations, parents and technology, social media, supervising kids

Effectively Guide Your Digital Kids-10 Tips for Grades 4-6 and Beyond

My design with images from the Apple website.

1.    Save Facebook, Google+, and other big-time social networking experiences for high school.

2.    Know your child’s passwords.

3.    Keep online computer activities out of the bedroom. Also, plan on no-screen wind-down time during the last half hour before bed. (Yes, even those bedtime friendly Kindles – why not use bedtime-friendly books?)

4.    Set up an overnight charging area for cell phones and other gadgets outside of the bedroom, preferably on another floor or part of your home.

5.    Consider writing up digital device contracts and using these agreements with your child. Feel free to take away privileges, or even the device, if your expectations are not met.

Continue reading “Effectively Guide Your Digital Kids-10 Tips for Grades 4-6 and Beyond”

Posted in Back-to-school digital reading, digital parenting, digital world reading habits, homework, parents and technology, research on the web, web research

Digital Reading: How Much Does Your Child Trust Search Links?

If you enjoy this post, check out my August 2010 post about using online databases, Staying Ahead With Online Resources, about online data.

The next time you watch your child begin a web search for a school project or other academic activity, take a few minutes to observe more closely how he or she selects web resources. In Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content (this abstract site leads to a free PDF of the article), professor Eszter Hargittai and colleagues form the Web Use Project at Northwestern University, describe how students tend to place huge amounts of trust in the initial hits retrieved by search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

With first year students in a required writing course at the University of Illinois Chicago (chosen because of its highly diverse student body) researchers conducted a written survey of 1060 students enrolled in the classes. Next researchers selected a stratified random sample of 192 students to observe in person as each student performed 12 specific web-based tasks. Learn more about a stratified random sample.

Interesting Observations

  • To complete a web-based task, students usually went to a search engine.
  • After search engines presented links, students tended to follow the first few links, apparently assuming that the first links in a search were reliable resources to pursue.
  • When they looked at a list of provided links, some had difficulty knowing the difference between regular links and sponsored links.
  • As they followed these links, students did not appear concerned about who authored the sites that they found (only 10 percent of the students commented about a site’s authors or the credentials presented).
  • To complete tasks students relied on brand names, and corporate brands dominated.
  • SparkNotes, an online version of Cliff Notes, dominated.
  • For credible sources many students favored .gov and .edu sites as more credible sites.
  • Many expressed trust in .org, because they are all not-for-profit sites, although these days just about anyone can get a .org web address.
  • To verify information, less than half of the observed students consulted a second website.
Posted in Back-to-school digital reading, homework, online databases, parents and technology

Staying Ahead With Solid Digital Research

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 can ensure that a student uses quality sources, thereby developing stronger research skills over the long run.

Just about any time digital children 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 applying the 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.

Continue reading “Staying Ahead With Solid Digital Research”