Challenges of using web sources

On his blog 2 Cents Worth, David Warlick posts a question for teachers for an article  which will appear in May’s issue of Cable in the Classroom.

What is your greatest challenge in teaching appropriate, ethical use of web-based media to your students?”

Since we have discussed that question here frequently, I would be interested in your experiences and ideas.  If you have comments or thoughts, please share them here. (and your ideas might just get published!)

2 thoughts on “Challenges of using web sources

  1. Carolyn, my greatest challenge is just having students grasp how to use these tools. I guess we’ll have to discuss the use of tagging, linking and permissions but right now my grade 9 class is struggling with using tools like wikis and blogs. They struggle with using an advanced search which makes it very difficult to find information they can read and understand. They are so use to cutting and pasting without being responsible for what they have cut and pasted. They also are to quick to give up and go to a game. If one search doesn’t produce results, they’re off to some site to play a game. I know this doesn’t really get into the ethics question, but it is a great challenge. In order to worry about ethics, we have to be getting to some production stages.


  2. One thing I want to comment on–

    A library researcher, Carol Kuhlthau, has done a lot of work on the research process and the emotional stages kids go through during the different stages of research.

    One of the stages she describes is when students start the actual research and get stumped or get frustrated, and how that sometimes causes them enough distress that their instinct is to give up or change topics.

    I’ve always thought there is some value in helping students figure out how to get over that hump. It’s something all of us experience when we face a daunting task–we get the syllabus for a graduate class or a project we have to do at work and think, it can’t possibly be done. Maybe we avoid it for awhile, but eventually we settle down and persevere and get it completed step by step.

    I think our students have difficulty with that, and maybe it’s part of our responsibility to teach them how to do it. I also think it’s helpful to them knowing that it is a normal stage of research to feel anxious and frustrated, and that they’ll get past that point.

    I also think it helps giving research assignments that they can’t really cut and paste….the more complex the research question is, the harder it is to do that. (Of course, that will cause them more initial frustration because I’ve noticed students find it really difficult to dig for information).

    Other strategies I’ve thought about trying–having them print out three articles and rank them in order from best to last(simulating, and explain why they ranked them that way. (Our students are used to ranking things online already!) Or requiring they print out only one of the articles they find during a class period in the lab and explain why they selected that one, as though they were “digging” that article as the best one.

    I also wonder if it would help having them use online tools, like or Google Notebook, because they can bookmark sites and annotate them in their own words, which teaches them how to summarize in their words.

    I hear your frustration about the search and software, too. I do think too often we expect that kids know how to “search” but how often do we really teach them how to brainstorm keywords overtly(until they internalize that) or how to follow clues online, or how to try different search sites if the first one doesn’t give them the results they want? Or how to use simple techniques like “quotation marks” for phrases?

    I posted some article a few days ago that rightly pointed out–just because students are technology literate doesn’t mean they are media literate or search literate.

    Good luck in your efforts!

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