Getting technical

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I enjoyed the Digital Classroom Conference on March 4 at Bettendorf, Iowa, High School that was presented by Jeff Utecht from Spokane, Washington.  He had some great examples of how students are using the Internet to learn things on their own.  He also reinforced my belief that schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the digital age. His ideas are valuable and trend-setting, so that’s why I’m getting off my couch to share them with my fellow teachers and parents.  The best way to do this is on a blog, of course. (I just hope WordPress is not blocked at my school like Blogger and YouTube.)

Utecht emphasized the importance of teaching students “the skill of search.”  He thinks Chrome is the best search engine, and “Wikipedia is more accurate than your textbook” simply because knowledge expands like never before in history.  He suggested that we teach students to limit searches to only the sites that have been updated within the last three years. He suggested that adding “site:edu” or “site.gov” to search terms will yield more trusted web sites. To get a global perspective on a topic that is relevant to a region, students should add a country to the search. He suggested a search on “Vietnam war site:gov.vn” to see how Vietnam perceives what they call the “American War.”  “Never before in education could you get a country’s perspective on a topic,” he said.

He wasn’t here to give us just search tips, however.

He continued his presentation with examples of how students can collaborate to create new knowledge with their hands-on research, mapping tools, and class notes. I’ll talk about digital communities next time.

Let’s interact. How do you help students improve their skills of search?

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8 thoughts on “Getting technical

  1. Marcia Jensen

    I had heard about the site: edu search before, but the country thing really was exciting! Teaching students how to search (meaning we have to learn first) will do so much to improve their learning and products. I really liked the short lessons with the teacher questioning the group about why they chose a particular source. I’d be happy to work with any group or their classes about search skills.

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    1. stevelyle2 Post author

      I agree with you, Marsha. Search skills are vital, and I loved Jeff’s suggestion that we teach students how to read a search results page. Thanks for being such a helpful resource to students and teachers. We’ve come a long ways from card catalogs and microfiche!

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  2. Jane Kroening

    I, too, enjoyed the conference yesterday. My honors students are starting Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Instead me presenting background info, I had them divide into groups of three and create a table in their assignment folders. I then showed them how to use the research tool within the google docs and turned them loose to create their own background notes, each student having their own area of responsibility. Tomorrow we share.

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    1. stevelyle2 Post author

      That’s a great idea, Jane. I think learning how to find information and deciding what is relevant is probably more important than remembering facts from a teacher. Let us know how the sharing turns out.

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    1. stevelyle2 Post author

      I know, Renee. Teachers warn, “Never use Wikipedia because you can’t trust it.” It’s there, however, right at the top of the search list, and it’s reviewed. Jeff said textbooks also can’t be trusted because they are often culturally biased and out of date, but no one ever corrects them. Wikipedia can be. Jeff encouraged students and teachers to submit ideas to Wikipedia.

      Are we out of our comfort zone yet?

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