Thursday, October 15, 2009
Over the last week of classes we were exposed to many different online sources and learned how to use them to our advantage. Although I am very familiar with journal databases, there was definitely a handful of really useful things I learned! I also found it interesting that only half of the class had been involved in a session such as this one. Throughout my university career, I believe I have taken 5 of them. I feel that this is something that is so important but it is also important to make sure everyone is on the same page. I think that sessions such as this should be required in first year university. In fact, why not start in high school? After completing my PS II, it was amazing to see how poor my Grade 9 class’s research skills were. In addition, I think that determining whether or not a source is reliable and accurate is even more important than learning to use databases. I know a few individuals at the university who were caught either using inaccurate sources or plagiarizing. The weird thing was it that they didn’t even realize it or understand why it was a bad thing. That just sounded crazy to me and so it is apparent how sessions such as these can be vital to success in university.
One of my favorite new references to use is Credo Reference. With this resource, you can do a basic search or an advanced search of any topic you wish to research. It offers dictionary and encyclopedia information. You can also choose how to organize your results. One component of this tool that is really cool is the concept map option. Instead of listing results, a concept map of all sub topics is created. This source is very valuable. However, there is an obvious limitation. We are only able to use it because we are U of L students and the U of L is registered to use it. I think that this would be a great tool to expose high school students to but it would only be available to them if the school has a subscription. It would be great to encourage students to use this source instead of Wikipedia or dictionary.com.
Fortunately, we also went over how to use sources online that are available to everyone. For example, when searching topics in Google, everything under the sun can come up. However, using tools such as Google Scholar allows the user to know that the results they are getting are reliable. In addition, if you like the visualization option available with Credo Reference, you can use a search engine called Kartoo. Using this resource allows you to organize your information in a web and allows you to refine your topic visually.
One source that I thought was really interesting was the Way Back Machine. This tool allows you to look at archives of a website that are no longer available on the current site. This can be very valuable. However, when I tried to use it, it would not allow me to set my search any later than 2005. This would not be useful for sites that change monthly. However, I do not have a lot of experience using this tool so I’m sure I am missing something.
Having sessions such as this is very important and topics discussed should definitely be address to secondary students. I wish I knew about all of these earlier in my academic career!