Participate 2.1.1 Collecting Reputable Digital Resources Quest
Digital citizens need to be adept at social bookmarking. When setting up bookmarks for social sharing and future reference, it is best to start by adding a few favorites that first come to mind, but the next step should not be to aimlessly wander the net looking for resources, tools, and services without a need. Rather, one should first brainstorm all of the types of resources, tools, and services needed. Then one should take stock of the bookmarked inventory before searching for resources to fill those gaps.
For example, when I first set-up my Google Bookmarks, many text-heavy sites for poetry, writing prompts, and grammar came to mind quickly, but I did not have any that addressed STEM needs nor a good mix of sites that would work best within a digital classroom. I spent a few minutes browsing to fill these gaps. Some of the most useful tools I bookmarked were Make Beliefs Comix, TEDEd, and Poetry Foundation. Personally, I’ve found that the most effective way to build a fruitful bookmarking site is to follow several blogs and use social media to discover new sites. By following the people who share your interests and people who are experts in education, instructors can see which online resources are most useful and learn about new trends. Edutopia is a great place to start, and their Twitter feed is prolific almost to a fault.
Online educators should also teach students this method of bookmarking to students, especially since they will need to use and share resources and tools with their class. Students need to know some tricks to getting more accurate search results; using key words, quotation marks, and advanced search settings are some basic strategies many students don’t employ. They should also learn about domain names, so they can restrict their searches to sites hosted by organizations, educational institutions, or the government. Once students master finding helpful results, they should begin to use educational blogs and social media to help them follow people with similar goals and interests. Many education blogs list links to recommended sites, and teachers should point this out. Furthermore, the instructor should have his/her own links page with useful sites and blogs to get students started.
Once students begin bookmarking, they might bookmark unreliable sites or too many sites on the same topic. The instructor should create policies to ensure students find and use reliable sources like, “Only use sites that end in .edu, .org, or .gov.” A quick lesson on evaluating the author’s expertise within a field might also be necessary depending on the readiness of the class. If a student can search for a respected scientist, he/she will have access to an expert’s recommended websites and tools.
Although it is nice to sometimes aimlessly surf the net without purpose, it shouldn’t be the only method students know how to do. Strategic searches and a quick evaluation of each result will help digital citizens find reliable information faster. The less time students use finding what they need, the more they can use these resources to learn, create, and share.
Additional Resource: “Teaching My Daughter to Search”