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I recently attended Pete & C, PA’s educational technology conference. It’s the fifth or sixth time I’ve attended. I typically find some interesting resources and enjoy connecting with members of my PLN and hearing about all of the great work they’re doing in schools.
So there I was, minding my own business and feeling genuinely grateful that the session presenter, Lexie Konsur, was being up front about copyright and fair use issues in education and not telling us we needed to use only 30 second clips of video and 100 words of text and spewing other fallacy-ridden copyright guidelines, when a participant raised her hand and proclaimed something like,
“We don’t allow our kids use Google to find information.”
She was talking about elementary students, of course, because it seems as though in our quest to shield and protect our youngest students from the perils of the intertubes we neglect to properly educate them about what resources are available via the web, how to access them safely and securely, what to do if they stumble upon something precarious, and how to think critically about the resources they’ve found and put them to good use.
I wanted to ask her, but didn’t, for fear of getting all riled up and embarrassing those sitting around me,
- What DO you let your students use to find information online?
- Is this how they find information when they’re not sitting in their classrooms?
- Do they know what a search engine is? Do they know how it works?
- Would they know what to do if, while browsing, they stumbled upon something harmful or dangerous?
- Do they know how to manage digital resources and information to best support their research?
- Do they know there are tools built into search engines like Google to help them narrow their searches productively?
- What about YouTube? (I’m guessing that’s off limits, too. And, like, Wikipedia.)
- How do YOU as the teacher find information online and conduct research? Would you be someone who could model your research efforts for students and demonstrate how to use Google appropriately and effectively?
But not always. Sometimes the library is too small, the information can’t be found.
So, then, where do we send them to learn?
As we are making a move to Chromebooks next year in our primary classrooms, I’m genuinely interested to hear what others (at the elementary level, particularly) are doing to support students and their research. Thanks for reading!