How Can I Teach My Students to Research Effectively Using the Internet?

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Internet SafetyIn today’s world, research is often synonymous with Google. The use of Google is so frequent among students that referring to books seems to be an act of the past. Despite this, are we certain that our students are well versed in online research? Do they present quality and relevant information on their assignments? If not, then the most urgent need of the hour is to equip our students with some effective online research skills.

Why does it matter?

At present, students have access to huge amounts of information, most of which may not even be student friendly. While researching, it is essential that they have the understanding and the skills to critically evaluate and differentiate the relevant, accurate and appropriate content from the irrelevant and inaccurate ones. They should also be knowledgeable regarding the use of various search engines and methods of searching, in order to conduct thorough online research.

To assist you in enhancing your students’ web literacy skills, we have compiled a few pointers.

· Effective Keywords: Using the right keywords will yield the best results faster. Therefore, students should be educated on the use of appropriate keywords, to alter or modify them to obtain results, to develop and refine their search queries, to use synonyms, quotation marks and so on, to enhance their search options.

This can be taught by giving students a topic to research. Instead of focusing on the result, students should write down the different keywords and search queries that they used in order to obtain the results.

· Appropriate Sources: Though students know not to believe everything they read online, it is still important to educate them about choosing the right sources. Most of the content online is connected to various advertisements that may not be child friendly. Instruct your students to add “kids or students” along with their search terms. Ask them to check the URL or web address before progressing. If the sites are sponsored, then they are very likely to be bombarded with advertisements. Security of sources is also a major factor that needs to be considered and they should be instructed never to reveal personal information. Encourage your students to be smart and intuitive while choosing sources.

· Filtered Content: Patience is a virtue in the virtual world too. Quite often, while researching, only the first few results are viewed and considered. Students should be encouraged to delve into those beyond the first page. They should be aware that most sites use search engine optimization to enhance their visibility and are often irrelevant to their search. They should learn to use their judgment and follow their instincts while filtering content.

· Standards Maintained: Students should evaluate their sources and content against a standard. Accuracy, reliability, validity and scope can be some of the basic criteria by which the information is gathered.

· Citations: As plagiarism is unacceptable, it is essential that students are taught the correct methods of citing information. Give them plenty of opportunities to practice re-writing content in their own words.

What are some things you tell your students when they use the internet for research?

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