Silly question I know and when I first asked myself this I answered myself with a resounding NO. Then I started thinking about it a bit deeper. A person in my building approached me yesterday and said that she was doing a research paper with her kids and she wasn't letting them use the internet. They needed to learn the "basics" first which are effectively reading an article and deciphering information. Basically doing research. the kids are just not well versed with this kind of activity. I would tend to agree, for the most part, they should learn the basics. What are the basics though? I think they have changed a little. The old way of doing research has shifted a bit. The basics have expanded a bit to include learning how to deal with the deluge of information that is available to you and to make that information come to you through RSS feeds and aggregators. That there is debate going on out there on all kinds of topics that go deeper than simple articles on the subject.

The concept that we are all connected now more than ever is a concept that needs to be used as "the basics" and kids need to learn how to navigate and handle themselves in this environment. I am curious to hear other's thoughts on this.

To me telling a kid to research without the web is like telling them to walk without using their legs.

Tags: 2.0, basics, research, web

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Two comments based on experience--I teach gifted kids--really gifted kids in special education program. I only mention that so you can understand my frustration, surprise and dismay as we start a research project. Most kids are not taught "how" to do research. We are teaching ours now--how to paraphasing, taking notes, etc and our 4-6th graders are miserable at it. OK, a few of them do ao wonderful job but most are poopy. I do think they need to be taught how to do some things we take for granted--the basics.

Also, for some kids, the Internet and the computer itself are so distracting that they are not the best tools to use for research. Just my 2 cents. N.
Oh, my, Wade. "Never once set foot in the library?" That's like boasting that you never went to the art museum, the concert hall, the football stadium, chapel or place of worship, or the school theater. I think that's a bit of a thing I'd keep that too myself. Ooh.
Hmmm, kind of like describing l'amour... :-)

But, of course, that depends on where you attended school, and what type of library they have. Were it like the University of Illinois, with something over 7,000,000 volumes, the wonders don't really end.

And, it depends on how deep your budget is. Many students don't enjoy unlimited funds.

My time in grad school saw an unending stack of 7-10 books from the library in my room. Just the breadth of the libraries alone was a learning experience. To ask for a comp sci volume and end up in the ag library is a treat. To run your eye down the law school journals; to have an inter-library loan arrive in Champaign, IL, from TelAviv; to stumble across Artificial Intelligence and National Security and then discover shelves and shelves on military science in the process; or a whole wall of readable biographies (not the tomes in Borders). Just the smell, dude, just the smell! To feel as maybe Newton or Einstein or Fourier did as they were searching some knotty problem!

Ahh, but maybe you missed nothing. Maybe your student's won't either.
Doing a research paper? Since 1955 we have been assigning this project? What is it with this lesson that teachers feel this hackneyed project is still a way to test the knowledge of our students? Oh yes research I forgot..and how many times will these skills be invoked I ask you. If we are talking about problem solving, creative thinking, simulation of processes, interdependent communication, understanding role of diversity as learning objectives in writing a paper on whatever then I agree this is a valid assignment. But please lets get real about this, we ask students to do the same research paper over and over and over again. So they consider looking up someone else's work on the Internet since its been done hundreds of times...back to the point... the basics of what teachers think is important to teach their students has not changed in 50 years with a few exceptions.
I guess I thought research paper assignments were less about testing knowledge and more about instilling intellectual discipline and constructively generating knowledge for them.

It happens, in fact, that after months of reading, writing, and discussing the very topic of web 2.0 tools and classroom learning, I felt compelled this past month to sit down and write a properly referenced and carefully worded paper. The process--the discipline--was quite refreshing. And I learned from it. My view of the world was not the same when I finished as when I started; the thing is, that viewchange came not from anything in particular read, but from the discipline of extended, careful writing..
Hi Ed,

I, too, think that "research paper assignments are less about testing knowledge and more about instilling intellectual discipline and constructively generating knowledge for them."

Research should be taught as active investigation, the real "stuff of learning." I think the kids need every tool available, including a good book library. The need the ability to hunt down accurate information from the world's pool of knowledge on the internet, and yes, it's most definitely our job to help them develop these skills. Most of all they need to be allowed to use their passion for learning in the project, by having control over selection of topic and the ability to define the course of the investigation as they go along. (My pet peeve is when educators hand kids an outline of exactly how the investigation is supposed to go. That's missing the point of active exploration, that's robbing the kids of ownership and thus passion and motivation.)

Ed, I know what you mean about the grand feeling of discipline that come from really being involved in research. May we convey this to our students, and help them develop it every way we can.
This topic always sparks a debate among professionals. I keep coming back to the fact that we are trying to prepare our students for careers that don't even exist yet. We are trying to provide them with the tools to solve problems that don't even exist yet. I know this is true of every generation of students, but the possibilities for this generation are not as predictable. The basics for or students then have changed a bit because we need to focus more on making them self -motivated learners Technology aside, the basic skill of "sticktoitiveness" needs to be taught, reinforced, and taught again. The idea that students want everything handed to them and "do not have the skills to read a simple article and extrapolate meaning" (paraphrasing a bit here from the conversation I had that started this thread) is ridiculous. I think they just need to be taught how to work more efficiently and to start relying on themselves and start trusting themselves and their skill level to extrapolate meaning and not to get so frustrated if it doesn't pop up as the first choice in a search engine.
Hmm, well I have some old-fashioned credentials. I started university in 1983, I was a history major as an undergrad, and later in life I became a library advocate. That being said I can see some of Wade's points.

Why I went to libraries when I was a student:

1. I had to, there was a library research requirement because some business major bragged about graduating without having set foot in the library during his entire "career" at my university. Thereafter, you had to buy a workbook with a series of questions that took you on a tour of the library.

2. I had to go there to get "real" work done. A upper division/graduate level seminar was required by my major, and it also required a research paper based on working with primary documents. This involved time in both the UC Berkeley Graduate, Bancroft and UCLA Research Library. All very nice places.

I think the fist reason I went to the library would not be necessary today, you could do it online. The second reason is a different beast. Basically, if you're going to be a history major there is NO possible way you can avoid one of these places because I don't care how much stuff gets scanned by Google, the sheer scope of all the paper based documents out there mean you have to work with paper, and paper that you can't buy from Amazon. The newspapers were on microfiche, but the reams of papers were still paper.

Do I think everyone should have to do this? Hmm, I think it would be nice if student worked with archival materials just to have them working with hands on realia, more than paper is better, but I'm not wed to any philosophy on this.

Here is my thought on libraries. There is a reason that the Library Ning has done so well. Librarians are better innovators than we are as teachers. Basically, as the Internet came out, they were an endangered species, and they realized this. They began the transition to making libraries and themselves relevant in the age of the Web.

The full flower of this is seen in the recent Wyoming library campaign:

I guess I would say, if the only reason to come to the library is the books, that's not going to cut it. I'm saying this as a book lover. They need to provide other services. My local public library has wireless, and comfortable chairs. My university library had great chairs, quiet corners, group study areas.



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