Education used to focus on the 3 R’s — reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Without a doubt, those remain critical subjects but these days, they are just the beginning. What about history (because those who don’t understand history are forced to repeat it) and civics (so we understand how government works)? And the STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math? No wonder it takes eight hours a day — and more — to learn what is required to thrive in the 21st-century world.
I need to add another topic to this list, one that is used daily and misunderstood just as often, one that intimidates some and confuses many, one where an introduction feels like drinking from a fire hose. If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s the Internet. Let’s be honest: The Internet is a monster. You felt that way — probably called it worse — the last time you were hacked. Having your personal information stolen feels like your life swirling down the drain. In your lifetime, you will spend more time on the Internet than sleeping. It doesn’t care about your career, your favorite subject, or life goal. If we are defined by the choices we make, the Internet provides the biggest chance for an oops with the most devastating consequences.
Teenagers spend average nine hours a day on the Internet. It seems irresponsible to adopt the SODTI attitude — Some Other Dude Teaches It.
That’s the bad news: Internet safety must be taught and if not by you, by whom? The good news is, teaching about the Internet is easily blended into almost any subject, any topic. Let’s start with the biggest Internet topics most schools want to cover and I’ll show you how to do that.
Here’s a nice infographic on how to evaluate websites for authenticity, reliableness, and usefulness. Feel free to grab it and share:
EasyBib, the first name most educators think of when citing sources, has created a useful summary on MLA guidelines for citing sources. Best of all, it’s an infographic you can grab and post on your wall (with proper citation, of course):
Click here for the original post.
Teaching technology is a difficult profession because people learn in different ways and at different rates. However, one thing that can make it easier for students to learn is for teachers to include instructions on basic academic skills like vocabulary, keyboarding, digital citizenship, and research.
The better a student’s vocabulary, the easier it is for them to improve their comprehension and express themselves in oral and written form. The better a student learns how to use a keyboard, the faster and more accurately, they can work with a computer. The better a student’s digital citizenship, the more safely they can navigate the Internet websites, staying away from scammy links. Finally, the better a student’s research skills, the easier it will be for them to sort out the true from the false.
Technology has made it easier than ever before to do research. Besides an abundance of sources, the Internet provides ways to sift and sort through massive amounts of information through the use of search engines and advanced filters. Compare this to the old school way of doing research: spending hours in a large library and slowly filling out flash cards. Now research is as efficient as doing a Google search to find relevant websites and then bookmarking the site for later reference.
However, besides these online tools, tech teachers can also benefit by borrowing research tools used by historians.
Man is a thinking creature. We like evaluating ideas and sharing thoughts. That’s a good thing. The more we collaborate, the smarter we all become.
Implicit in this is that we don’t claim someone else’s ideas as our own. In fact, it’s illegal to do this. Read through this rephrasing of American copyright law:
“The law states that works of art created in the US after January 1, 1978, are automatically protected by copyright once they are fixed in a tangible medium (like the Internet). BUT a single copy may be used for scholarly research (even if that’s a 2nd grade life cycle report) or in teaching or preparation to teach a class.” –Jacqui Murray, Ask a Tech Teacher
When we claim someone else’s work as our own, be it text, artwork, movies, music, or any other form of media, it’s called plagiarism:
“[Plagiarism is the] wrongful appropriation of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions”
The rules and laws surrounding plagiarism aren’t nearly as well-known as those that deal with, say, driving a car or illegally crossing a street. The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics surveyed 43,000 high school students and found that:
- 59% of high school students admitted cheating on a test during the last year. 34% self-reported doing it more than twice.
- One out of three high school students admitted that they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment.
One note: Laws addressing plagiarizing differ throughout the world. This article deals with commonly-accepted international guidelines and specific rules aligned with the laws of the United States.
I read recently that 70% of millennials get their news from Facebook. Really? Isn’t Facebook a place to share personal information, stay in touch with friends and families, post pictures of weddings and birthdays? So why do students turn to it for news? And then, not two days later, I heard Twitter has reclassified their app as a news purveyor rather than a social media device. Once again: Who gets news from Twitter? Apparently a lot of adults. No surprise news shows are littered with references to listener’s tweets and presidential candidates break stories via their Twitter stream.
One more stat — which may explain the whole social-media-as-news-trend — and then I’ll connect these dots: 60% of people don’t trust traditional news sources. That’s newspapers, evening news, and anything considered ‘mainstream media’. They prefer blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
So when it comes to research, are you still directing kids toward your grandmother’s resources — encyclopedias, reference books, and museums? No doubt, these are excellent sources, but if students aren’t motivated by them, they won’t get a lot out of them. I have a list of eight research sites that walk the line between stodgy (textbooks) and out-there (Twitter and Facebook), designed by their developers with an eye toward enticing students in and then keeping their interest. It’s notable that most are free, but include advertising. The exception is BrainPOP — there are no ads, but it requires a hefty annual fee:
Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.
Here’s a great question I got from Melissa:
I have heard repeatedly from many of my high school social studies students that they rarely use teacher websites. Most who say they do do so only to obtain homework assignments (many prefer to text other students for assignments rather than go online). In general they report that they do not explore the websites any further than they must.
I do find that AP students use teacher created websites frequently, Honors students less so.
I am looking for research on measured student use of teacher websites. Commercial sites collect extensive data on visitor behavior (dwell time, click through, and etc.). Are you aware of any research along those lines?
I’m not familiar with such research so I’m putting it out to my readers. If you have a teacher website that measures visitors, or if you know of this sort of research, please add a comment and a link.
I know when I had a teacher website several years ago, it was rarely visited by students, even though I tried to add relevant, authentic information. That wasn’t just mine, either; it was all teachers at the school. My Principal tasked me with evaluating faculty websites to see if it was a content issue rather than user disinterest. I adapted a rubric offered in the public domain by the University of Wisconsin-Stout (I’ve attached it for reference). I found that most teachers (in excess of 75%) 1) didn’t keep them up to date, 2) had the wrong information, or 3) didn’t even have one. It was the rare individual that had a solid, well-thought out website. That–I shared with the committee–was why students weren’t visiting.
Create a trifold brochure in Publisher to go along with colonization or another unit of inquiry in the classroom. This project focuses on research and is more involved than #51 History Trifold. Students add lots of detail and lots of research on different colonization topics. Besides Publisher, students learn to research on the internet and copy-paste pictures from the internet
Use each panel in the trifold (there are six) to cover a different topic you’re discussing in class.
Click on each page of lesson plan.
[gallery columns="4" ids="45820,45821,45818,45819"]
You can also use a template in Google Docs, Google Presentations, or MS Word if you don’t have Publisher: