Every year, it seems technology is more and more present in our lives. This is especially true for access to information. A research project when we were kids consisted of finding a topic, heading to the library, using the card catalog, and searching library shelves using our knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System to find books that might (or might not) be helpful. Kids today don’t realize how easy they’ve got it. Digital research projects allow students to use the internet to do their research from a device with internet access.
What are Digital Research Projects?
Digital research projects are projects where student research is done over the internet. Oftentimes, the research is displayed digitally as well as a slide or media presentation. Images, animations, charts, and tables can be incorporated into these projects whether they are found online or created by students.
Digital research is so easy to conduct. Simply find the search engine you want to use, type your topic into the search bar, and scroll through all the resources available. By utilizing internet research and creating a digital research project, your students will learn a lot and accomplish a lot just by using a computer or tablet.
Although everything digital seems to be the way our world is going, teach your students to use the library for their research. It is important that our students still know how to find books and documents in libraries. Not everything is available online yet!
How can I teach my students to create a digital research project?
Teaching students how to create digital research projects should have a few steps to ensure that the information found is accurate and appropriate for students. Some of the same skills that have always been necessary with research projects are still important for digital research projects. For example, note taking, organizing information, quoting, and citing resources are still important things your students need to know how to do. In addition to these same methods students have been learning for years, they will need to understand how to use a computer, choose safe search engines, and decide which information is credible.
Students need to be taught how to do all these little steps for creating a research project, digital or otherwise. Use minilessons to help.
- Communicate Digital Expectations: Unfortunately, with the vastness of the internet, expectations for internet use must be clearly defined. Take a few minutes to go over the rules students need to follow online.
- Focus the Topic: Find a specific topic your students can research so that the information available isn’t overwhelming.
- Use Legitimate Sources: Help students understand what a credible source looks like with photos, sources, and information that makes sense. Avoid sources that seem too good to be true or have questionable information.
- Note Taking Skills: Teach students how to take the important information down as notes using cave-man language or by using a chart to keep information organized.
A great resource that we haven’t discussed yet is your media specialist. They are trained to help you and your students navigate the world of media. This usually means they have a pretty good idea of what resources you can use online and how students can best go about creating a digital research project.
How do I know if a source is appropriate and legitimate?
There are many websites out there that we should be leery of. Students should be closely monitored on the internet, and if you have the option available, internet safety features should be used. An appropriate and legitimate site displays information which makes sense logically. It is a page where edits are not allowed by just anyone (ahem…Wikipedia). A legitimate website will contain resources for the information presented on the page.
Here are some great resources where your students will find appropriate and helpful information:
There are many great resources out there for your students to create digital research projects. Use safe search websites for your students to find appropriate and legitimate information. Teach your students how to take notes and find the information they need just like you would with good old fashioned print media. Soon, your students will be creating digital research projects and enjoy sharing all of the information they have learned with you.
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