Saturday, 26 October 2013

Googlers, Databasers & Bookies

"I'm so sick of students using Google!" a teacher said to me.

"How about letting them discover if it's the best way to find information for an assignment?" I replied.

In this instance, it was an English class of 30 that came in. I divided them up into three groups: Googlers, Databasers and Bookies. Each group had to find the three best essays in their allotted medium on Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper". It is important to note, there was no assignment attached to this task. They were to spend two hours simply searching for great essays.

The class also given a Best Resources chart to fill out to record their progress, as well as three sticky notes. After they had filled out the chart, they were to reflect and record their observations on their resources on a sticky note and put their observations on a "+" "-" and "!" chart. What were the advantages of their resource? What were the disadvantages? What did they learn?

Some of the groups needed mini-lessons:
  • The Bookies on how to use the library catalogue and the Dewey Decimal system to locate a book.
  • The Databasers needed help accessing the databases and narrowing their focus.
  • The Googlers felt that they didn't need any help at all.
Which group finished first? Whenever I've done this task, it has alternated between the Databasers and the Bookies. It was interesting to observe that the Bookies always worked collaboratively and that each class concluded that the databases were the best place to look for information on this topic. Surprisingly (or not), the Googlers had the hardest time finding good resources. They were always the last group to finish because they did not know how to use the advanced search options in Google. The group got stuck retrieving commercial sites selling essays or university-level work from Google Scholar. I've suggested to students that they may enjoy learning how to become a Google Power Searcher... for free.

Students discovering which resources are the best by themselves...priceless.

(It is important to note that the point of this exercise is NOT to show that Google is bad. It is simply to find out which resource is the best place to find information on a given assignment. For example, I have had other results for students doing a science project.)

Image credits:

DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT (2003) - MYERS, MIKE; BRESLIN, SPENCER; FANNING, DAKOTA.Photography. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 8 Oct 2013.

Google Logo. Photography. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 8 Oct 2013.

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