My first session was a given…as a librarian, I had to see Joyce Valenza (@joycevalenza) and David Jakes (@djakes) for “The Future of Student Research.” However, there were so many great sessions available; it really was difficult to choose each time.
Because of the unconference nature, our session was not a one-way presentation of tools and techniques (although tools and techniques were a-flying). We discussed how research has changed. Gone are (or should be) the days of asking for 1 book, 1 periodical, and 1 website. Information types are difficult to pin down…books are electronic, websites have periodicals, and databases have every type of source. We need to show students how to use various source types and stop privileging print over other media especially when that printed document is available elsewhere.
Is this as easy as giving the requirements above? Absolutely not. We must now help students (and teachers…and ourselves) learn how to evaluate not only information content but also information types. Is a tweet a valid source of information? Of course, it can be. Is a documentary a primary source? Maybe…some parts might be.
Definitive, precise source types are a thing of the past. However, that does not mean we do not need to evaluate. Some teachers have swung the other way when it comes to resources. They allow a research free-for-all, letting student slap and paste all over the place without a thought to the creator or content of the information. Students take the small bite that google gives them and ignore the source itself.
To assist students and teachers, Joyce employs “over the shoulder” assessment, evaluates annotated bibliographies, and suggests smaller research projects to provide practice. She also requires “exit” tickets to get to the next research step. Joyce’s practices remind me of Khulthau’s Zones of Intervention and require a great amount of co-teaching and collaboration.
The other thread in the discussion that resonated with me centered around students being given choices in the way they organize and present their information. Facilitators and participants chatted about numerous tools, but also the importance of teaching students the flexibility to roll with the changes. If a tool disappears, students should be able to adjust…and so should we, which makes it important not to teach just the technology. As @mbteach tweeted, “focus on the method, not the tool when teaching research.”
Please consider sharing; I would love to hear about (1) your session one experiences, (2) your methods for assessing and providing checkpoints for research, and (3) your favorite tools to show students.