8 Strategies for Digital Research & Immersive Education – August 2019 Newsletter

Simplifying Technology for Learning

It’s that time of year! We hope your summer was both relaxing and enjoyable. Setting up a smooth-running classroom not only includes the physical: desks, decorations, dry erase boards, and of course plenty of office supplies, but nowadays it also includes a wide array of digital aspects: computers, tablets, smartboards and, our personal favorite…..ebooks!

While as much as we would love to, we can’t help with setting up your classrooms.

We are here for you when it comes to implementing your ebook platform. Our mission is to aid teachers in customizing their students’ educational experience by simplifying technology for learning!

These days students do much of their research online. It’s true the information they need often can be found on the internet, but the accuracy of that information isn’t always well scrutinized. Read our article on evaluating information that is found online. The tips are not only valuable for our student researchers, but also for anyone who uses the internet for fact finding. And, consider including the “endangered tree octopus” in your digital research lesson plan!

Founder & CEO

It’s a Fact! Or, is it? The Art of Digital Research – 8 Strategies

Have you ever heard of the amazing tree octopus found in the Pacific Northwest? This endangered “eight-legged tree hugger” has a detailed website full of scientific facts. It’s on the internet so it must be true! But, is it? Read this article then make that determination yourself.

Ask almost any student where they begin research for an assignment and it’s no surprise “Google!” and “Wikipedia!” are their enthusiastic answers.

Our students face a mountain of online media content that is not sorted by reliability and If using a personal device, “customized” depending on search history. A group of students could easily research the same topic and come up with different results!

While not on the top of most students “to do” list, developing a curating tactic to manage and evaluate the rapid flow of information is a vital life lesson. It’s time for them to act like librarians who seek, sort and evaluate information, not rely on the most immediate results. It’s important for educators to help them learn to sift through it and come to evidence-supported conclusions.

“I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.” ― Thomas Jefferson

A good habit to develop is when confronted with a claim that may not be 100% true, use the following checklist to get closer to the truth:

  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an “Alice in Wonderland” rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.
  • Check your emotions: When you feel strong emotion–-happiness, anger, pride, vindication–-and that emotion pushes you to share a “fact” with others, STOP. Above all, these are the claims that you must fact-check.
  • Use the three-source rule: Students must confirm information they find on three different websites to make sure it’s valid. Try doing that with the tree octopus!
  • Give the CRAAP test: Check the credibility of a website with a scoring guide like the CRAAP test worksheet (An evaluation tool used in libraries!). CRAAP stands for “currency,” “relevance,” “authority,” “accuracy” and “purpose.” Students score websites on things like domain, spelling and grammar, authors listed, and dates updated.
  • Determine the domain: Remind them that websites that end in .edu, .org and .gov are generally more credible sources for academic research than those that end in .com.

Immersive Education – See the World with Virtual Reality

Virtual realityImagine taking your class on a dream fieldtrip to the Galapagos Islands and going on a snorkeling adventure in Tortuga Bay. How about exploring the Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela Island and becoming a wildlife watcher in the small town of Puerto Ayora, all from the comfort of your classroom?

Welcome to the world of immersive education!

The rapid advancement of virtual reality (VR) is giving us the ability to transform how we see and learn about the world around us. Similar to the concept of exploring topics through links in etextbooks, VR provides an added experience to instruction, a big benefit to visual learners. In fact, with these tech devices, all learners are inspired to further explore for themselves.

The virtual reality of the future will involve more than headsets and game controllers used for a visual experience; it will become better for all the senses, including such additions as temperature, and even smell. How about joining a group of student peers from Japan in a virtual stroll through a fish market in Tokyo?

Quite simply, VR changes how our students see the world and learn, taking them places they have never gone before. Students will be able to travel back in time for history (and math!) lessons. Wouldn’t geometry be more interesting by watching the Egyptian geniuses of our past design and construct the pyramids?

See What One High School Principal Had to Say About Working with EdTech