Monday, May 5, 2014

Information Searching Simplified

A teacher with whom I work asked his 7th grade students recently for feedback:

"We did this in order to garner information on how to improve the independent learning project that we are currently creating. The big ideas that came out of that survey included the following:

They want…

  1. More time
  2. More consecutive work days (too many disruptions)
  3. More support for finding information"

While there were more "wants" on this list, I'm stopping at #3 for this blog post and sharing some tips & tricks that might help support their efforts at information searching.

I'll focus at this point on search engines.  One resource worth exploring with students as they begin the information gathering stage of their research project is Instagrok

Results of users searchers appear as facts, websites, images, videos, etc. all in a visually appealing mindmap layout that can be adapted both by selecting a "difficulty" level and by pinning chosen resources to the mindmap.

Here's how it works using the search phrase civil war:

Let's follow what happens when a researcher searches for websites:

Notice that the site prompts researchers to explicitly decide if the source is credible.  The Evaluate the Source for Credibility form pictured above is from EasyBib. 

Researchers and their teachers will like that the website search is saved along with any sticky notes generated to the main mind map:

And the map can be shared via a link, embedded in a blog or website, or shared via these other outlets.

From their "terms of service" page:
"You do not need to register to use instaGrok: you may research topics by making Groks on the subjects that interest you. Additional features, such as history and journal functionality, may require registering for an account. There is no charge for using the base features, but further functionality, such as the educator dashboard, may require payment."

 For a quick look at what Instagrok looks like on an iPad, take a minute to watch this tutorial:

Still curious?  Read more - Review from Edudmic:  Instagrok, the search engine made just for education.