Research 2.0:

Using Emerging Online Technologies to Facilitate Research

During this workshop, we will explore a range of tools designed to make online research easier. We'll consider RSS tools, social bookmarking and note-taking services, and suggestions for locating and organizing information. (The focus will be on collecting and sharing information, not on specific databases or the content itself.) This presentation is designed primarily with middle and high-school students in mind.

DISCLAIMER: Check with your county's technology department and be familiar with the current AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). As with any online work in schools, we need to be sure we are not violating county policies and are doing our best to teach students to use the internet safely. Some safety sites to help: NetSmartz, Internet 101, iSafe, CyberSmart
Popular tagged internet_safety

Part 1 - Changing How We Think about Research

How the Online World is Changing

If you're not already familiar with the popular concept of "web 2.0," this video is an interesting, quick introduction: "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us" by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University.

A Few First Principles:
  • The importance of play
  • The Cycle: Access, Share, Publish
  • The teacher must use the tools for himself/herself first

Changing Your Research Mindset

My tagged research

These tools and approaches are now "dead" or "almost dead." If your research plan relies on them, you are probably not adequately preparing your students:
  • Floppy Disks
  • School computers with extreme filtration
  • CD-ROMs
  • Note Cards (or other pen-and-paper-only note-taking methods)
  • Limiting the number of "online resources"
  • Outlawing "citation help" from online services (Who memorizes the MLA handbook, anyway?)
  • Basic web searches or school-database-only searches
  • Completely independent research methods
  • Text-only sources
  • Text-only reports

These tools and approaches are current and emerging. How many of these do you incorporate in your instruction?

Part 2 - Examining a Few Specific Concepts & Tools

Finding & Evaluating Sources

My tagged sources

Search smarter with advanced and specialty searches (see Wesley Fryer's Search Strategies page)

About the "deep web"
  • Estimates are that the "deep web" contains 500 times the information of the "surface web"
  • The deep web consists mainly of dynamically-generated information, unlinked content, non-text content, and protected content (held in premium databases)
  • Search adding "database" to your keywords [i.e. plane crash database]. This will likely direct you to relevant databases that contain information otherwise hidden from surface webcrawlers
  • Schools, public libraries, and universities often provide access to premium databases, allowing researchers to access the "deep web" freely.
  • Some other resources for searching the "deep web"
Evaluating information

Copyright & Plagiarism Concerns

Common "open" licenses
Areas of concern:
  • Changing copyright laws
  • Plagiarism and "cheating" vs. collaboration
  • Proper and consistent attribution/citation, particularly online
Also see:
  • The Ecstasy of Influence - a take on plagiarism to remember, by Jonathan Lethem in Harper's Magazine
  • Ethics Challenges & Information - David Warlick's response to the question: “What is your greatest challenge in teaching appropriate, ethical use of web-based media to your students?”

Tagging, Saving, and Taking Notes

Research as Process

Bringing the research to you with aggregators, Google Alerts, and Netvibes or Pageflakes (the Darfur example)
More about the idea of "research as process" and finding alternative ways to present the findings
  • If you help students develop a reading plan (online and off) and give them room to explore their interests and passions through writing (online or off), you may find research becoming a natural part of their working process (this has been the case for most regular bloggers I know)
  • Research happens constantly and informally in this case, through blog reading and other RSS feeds, offline reading, reflective writing, tagging and noting, and note-keeping
  • Besides keeping a blog that shows the development of the interplay between research and reflection, students can individually or collaborative develop a wiki that collects and displays their findings. Alternately, they may produce a video or other webcast, use images to enhance or further explain their writing, or even create projects in a 3D environment.

Creating Citations

My tagged citation

Part 3 - Closing Remarks & References

Closing thought: online technologies are changing quickly. If we want to teach our students how to be effective researchers, we need to conduct our own research and learn tools and approaches that work ... then remember our research will be outdated in a month or so. We wanted "lifetime learners," didn't we?

Other issues for discussion: