Leading the way with Internet search skills

Over the years I have provided online search skill lessons to students in upper primary, there have been numerous resources reviewed, professional learning, experimenting with search techniques and tailoring lessons to share with students basic to extensive search techniques and applications. The series of lessons fit into the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability – Investigating with ICT and are a key aspect of digital literacy. What I have gained from designing and teaching the lessons is that one should not assume that students know about online search skills, anyone can search and find something about a topic – Google has made searching easy, but we need to be mindful about the what sources we use. Another thing I found is that teachers who join the the class take note and have even joined in with the activities to extend their online search skills.
This post focuses on an introduction to a series of lessons that aim to assist students with ‘Investigating with ICT‘ planning searches, locating and accessing online information, and evaluating information.

One key paper that assisted lesson planning was from the PETAA publication Literacy in the middle years: Learning from collaborative classroom research, (2014) the chapter Guiding students’ internet research provided knowledge on why we need to teach online search skills and ideas on how to do it. The paper inspired me to do an Action Based Research task with Grade 3 in 2014. Back in 1996 when I was involved in corporate libraries one thing that was taught to my team from an IT graduate was how to read a URL and what sort of web sites we should be visiting for research purposes – the skills are still relevant and students hear about my first Internet lesson when the Web was in it’s infancy.

As students today are born into a world where online is the norm I believe it is important for them to go back in time and see the big picture (in a nutshell) of where the Internet came from and what actually is the World Wide Web – the first lesson as outlined below shows how you can do this. The lesson also addresses how much we rely on the Internet.

Lesson 1: Introduction lesson – thinking and history

The lesson steps below fitted into a 40 minute session, you may need longer if you dig deeper with each aspect, two 30 minute sessions would be suitable.

  1. Set up the question ‘Where do I find information?’ using Socrative (or another student response App). Share responses on IWB so students can extend on others ideas. Interesting that students started with a small response.
  2. Discuss what it used to be like – dare I say before the Internet, students share stories about their parents and imagine what you would need to do to get resources for a research task.
  3. Watch BTN ‘Old Computers’ ask ‘what did you learn?’
  4. Ask the class what is the Internet and what is the World Wide Web – discuss difference
  5. Ask the class what do you think came first the Internet or WWW? This helped students understand the difference and even think about how we now use WiFi
  6. Show the infographic History of the Internet check first what sections you want to highlight
  7. To show some sites that students are familiar with but are relatively new in historical terms show the infographic: History of the Web:
  8. Scrolling through One second on the Internet is a must – many comments mostly ‘wow’ but a great way to show how much we use the Internet
  9. To finalise the ‘thinking and history’ aspect post the following question on Socrative ‘If the Internet was down for a week I would not be able to…?’ Interestingly some children thought it would be good as they could get outside and play other games. I mentioned to the students the trend for adults to book into digital detox camps – a reality of the important to need to ‘switch off’. Camp Grounded Forbes 2014 article.

Lesson 2: The URL Game

Lesson 3: Search it! What do you do, what can you do?

Lesson 4: What site should I use? Evaluating websites

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