Ok. This is might sound lame, and it won’t take you more than two seconds to guess that I am an English teacher. Today, my classes took a day away from the computers to do research. We actually used those bound paper piles in the library known as books. I will admit that, at times through the day, it was painful, mostly because the computers were within ten feet at all times, and the research might have been easier with a google search.
However, I think that my students will be better because of the activity. We are working on a project where the students are going to research the life of Shakespeare and, if all goes well in the next few weeks, build a wiki of some sort with all of the information. My purpose in having the students use books was that they are still a valid source for research. What was real interesting was the thought process that the students had to go through to find information in the books. Students used encyclopedias to find key words and then moved into the “stacks” (which in our library is about 50 books that talk about Shakespeare) to find these key words in the indexes of the books so they could complete their research. It really made the students think, but this was not the best benefit of the exercise.
The students had a hard time with the fact that they could not just type in a key word and get the information instantly. As students came up with questions, I had them write these down to prepare for more research on Monday when we will be using the computers. For some reason, the slow process of looking through the books helped them to slow down and think a little.
Looking back on the activity, I am sure that the same thing could have been done in front of the computers, but I am not sure that it would have been done with the same effect. Students always take off on the internet and cut and paste the first thing they come to. This didn’t happen today. Instead, they were thinking hard about the questions that came up because of their preliminary research. I think that the students have a solid base to work from now and will do some quality google searching on Monday.