Research time is getting busy and frenzy-paced. I have all three grades (and in one grade two different departments) working on various research projects. Time and time again I see guidelines that spell out what kinds of resources can be used, and I can always count on the obligatory “print” resource to be in the mix. I myself cringe when kids have found the three websites they plan to use, ending any hope that they might use the databases the district and state library provide. I say why not look here, and the student says no can do, I already have three online resources. And who can blame the kids. I myself when faced with a information quest will first turn to Google. Guilty! Busted! So a lot of my instruction one on one, in small groups, or in full classes has been about evaluating sites, and making sure they are indeed authoritative, relevant, up to date, and not questionable. When I talked about triangulating data, I hoped kids would use the databases to verify information. But I did not push it. Afterall, many times the kids had a limit. And once they had their number of sources, they were done. No convincing kids to look elsewhere.
Let’s Google it.
In conversations, I discovered that Google makes my kids feel an extreme freedom in searching. I have taken time to show Google Scholar, but there is something so inviting about the main Google screen, so alluring, kids just cannot resist. And then when they first find a gazillion hits to their query, it’s almost like a moment to celebrate (despite what I’ve shared about how search engines work, and that what is on the first page is not always the best or most accurate, and a refined search with fewer hits may be better.) Kids just LOVE that simple white screen. They can’t lay off it.
Is a database a website?
Then this past week I saw where another teacher-librarian asked the question that I quite honestly had never pushed out there: Is a subscription database to be considered an online resource? I waited to see what others would say, and it wasn’t long before there was a rock solid answer that I forwarded out to my teachers for consideration:
In my opinion, electronic databases should NOT count as Internet resources. Yes, you access them through the Internet (the delivery method), but someone has to pay to access them – hence the name subscription database. In addition, these resources have already been “evaluated” in some form. When teachers refer to the Internet, they are mostly referring to the WWW and/or free web = sites that any john doe can create. Like you said above, electronic databases collect materials that were originally in print – magazines, journals, pamphlets, brochures, reference books, etc. as well as web resources that have been evaluated and approved to be of some authority. My teachers will allow students to use as many references from DISCUS/subscription databases as they can find, but limit the number of free websites/sources. (Heather Loy, Wagener Salley High School, Wagener, SC)
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!
Now why didn’t I see it that way? (I suspect it is because I too–just like my kids–am a Google freak.) But it did give me a new way to think about the research that takes place in my building. With this new definition, I am hoping to get guidelines adjusted to say websites, databases, and print resources. I am hoping the databases will become a REQUIRED component in the mix, giving my kids a real reason to delve into the little used resources and realize their potential. Maybe they will realize the db are the better and more reliable resource, and stop juggling so much of their time cruising through all those Google search results.
What a difficult admission.
But it feels good to suddenly WANT to show off the databases, and have students come in hot and bothered about the databases just as much as the clamor after Google. So thanks for this conversation in my network.
One more question though.
And Heather poses this one too, but I’ll save this for her blog.
Image: ‘An apple with the logo of Google+made+with+laser‘
Image: ‘Descisions, descisions…‘
Image: ‘Juggling balls‘