Thursday, March 10, 2011

Joy of teaching - internet research again

On March 8th I taught a two-hour class for Boise Community Education in the computer lab at West Junior High School. I last had presented “Surf No More: Internet Research Refined” in November 2008. This class contained a detailed PowerPoint presentation of some topics that I have discussed on this blog. Five people attended, most of them older than me. After the presentation we practiced using the internet.

One reason that research can be complicated is that there are both old forms of information like books, magazines and newspapers, and new forms like web sites, blogs, and tweets. There often are several choices for how to find and obtain any of them.

For example, there is a detailed review article about public speaking anxiety by Graham Bodie published last year. If I was in a hurry I just could find and order it for about $47 from ingentaconnect. If I wished to spend less money and more time I could go over to the Boise State University library, get a guest pass for one of their four public terminals, find it on a database, and download it myself.

Another reason is that there are several different types of information. You can picture them on a ladder going upward from concrete to abstract. Search engines like Google are excellent for finding data. For example, we can quickly find the phone number for the bagel bakery in Boise that’s near Fairview Avenue and Eagle Road. More abstract topics call for more thought and effort.

The body of my presentation was divided into three sections on where and how we should look. My discussion of search tactics included using quotation marks around phrases, using Boolean logic, and using the Google Advanced Search.

I ended my discussion of search tactics by describing the ProQuest database that the Boise Public Library uses for magazines and most newspapers. The Advanced Search in ProQuest is very powerful. You can search by subject, author, publication title, and within the full text. None of my students were familiar with using ProQuest. 

My last section was about ten search strategies, which I also have discussed briefly on this blog. Everyone got a handout with the PowerPoint slides. Later I emailed them a document with links to all the web sites I had discussed.

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