Category: Critical Literacy
Research and the Internet – Are we getting smarter?
Reused from Flickr with Creative Commons License
I have just finished reading a thought-provoking article from the American Psychological Association regarding research into whether internet searching makes us feel smarter than we truly are.
It would seem that it does! Apparently the research would suggest that we gain an inflated sense of our own knowledge, even when we don’t find the answer to what we’re looking for, after the physical act of searching the internet. However, it appears this is not the case when researchers provided the link to a website to enable subjects to answer specific questions. It is the act of searching that makes us feel all-knowing.
Lead researcher Matthew Fisher suggests that as a result of the act of reading a book or talking with an expert we are more engaged in the research process than when we are searching the internet and so it becomes apparent to us when we have gaps in our knowledge. This then leads us to investigate further to find the answer. “With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”
So what are the implications of this on education and our future generations? And will it become more obvious as our current crop of young people who seem surgically connected to their smart phones become adults?
My initial thoughts are that we need to be designing lessons that require a level of critical thinking that demands our students to engage with the material they find, and that we should not be too quick to physically or mentally throw out our non-fiction collections.
We also need to continue to engage in learning conversations with our students as well as encourage those conversations to take place between peers, and demand not only reasoned and cited answers to questions but that further questions need to be asked in the quest for new knowledge.
It could become a dangerous world indeed when decisions are being made by people who think they know everything, but in fact know very little at all.
Q.U.I.C.K method for Evaluating Websites
Dr Susan Sandretto from Otago University gave a stunning keynote address at the recent SLANZA Conference in Wellington on Planning for Critical Literacy. She is an engaging speaker and able to communicate well the need for us as teachers and librarians to create opportunities for teaching students about critical literacy and have them explore what it means to analyse text critically. I have been fortunate enough to hear Susan speak on two previous occasions and she has been pivotal in giving me the necessary skills to design these two lessons, which help students grasp this concept in a digital environment.
This is the poster I developed using information Susan gave in hand-out form at her workshop I attended about two years ago. I had several teaching colleagues also attend this workshop, and these posters were ultimately displayed in classrooms throughout the school. I even saw it on the wall of my friend’s home office when I was visited her recently – she also happens to a former teaching colleague!
Lesson 1: How to Evaluate a Website – Q.U.I.C.K
Through observing typical 12 and 13 year old students’ behaviour in using computers to research, I realised they needed a lot of guidance to achieve effective results.
As part of developing an embedded programme towards achieving this aim, I designed this lesson to get Y8 students thinking about how to decide whether a website they are looking at is a good choice for their research needs.
I would typically teach this lesson after having already taught the class about keyword searching and selecting websites from their results.
The Quality Information Checklist is a great resource to engage students with how to evaluate websites and promote discussion in small groups about why it’s important to do this.
Lesson 2: Evaluating Websites
I have designed another lesson activity that I typically teach in either Year 9 or 10 where I remind them of the Q.U.I.C.K steps and get them to use as many as necessary to evaluate an assigned website. Here’s the lesson plan and a link to the Livebinder resource:
It really brings home the message to students that just because a website looks slick and has lots of bells and whistles, doesn’t make it appropriate, relevant, correct or even true.