Any 21st Century learning activity that requires the appropriate use of technology, should place emphasis on skill development in research (finding and validating information). We see a plethora of devices in our classrooms today but there is often a lack of understanding and skill regarding finding and validating relevant information. Students can find information easily, but often they stop at the top two Google hits…at Wikipedia or YouTube.
While this might be valuable information, it is only as good as what the student typed in. A search of the War of 1812 from a Canadian perspective website might give very different information than a similar search on an American perspective website.
Information is knowing a tomato is red.
Knowledge is knowing it is a fruit.
Wisdom is knowing it doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.
As discussed by Valerie Steeves in Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Teachers’ Perspectives “…many students lack the skills they need to use these tools effectively for learning” (2012, p. 1). She notes that students themselves identify gaps in their ability to identify valid information and how to access information online.
Teaching students some basic research skills including how to search effectively on the internet and how to know when the information they have is valid or questionable is essential both in the context of school and “the real world”. In inquiry-based and project -based learning these particular skills are of importance as the role of the teacher shifts from disseminator of information to facilitator of learning.
“Experience only leads to proficiency through practice and practice requires feedback from someone more skilled than you, usually the teacher.”