I have been reading with interest the discussions on OZTL_NET about 'cut and paste – a research skill'. Opinions have varied about appropriate strategies to encourage critical examination of information, and best use of technology to facilitate gathering and analysing information. Concensus seems to support good use of Word and a web browser to achieve the required result.
The post from Barbara Combes from the School of Computer and Information Science at Edith Cowan University is worth sharing on this topic before pointing out future possibilities.
How to be smart technology users and take notes?
Students are instructed to open a word document as well as the website.
First action – in the word doc create your bibliographic entry using whatever style your school endorses.
Second action – alt-tab to switch to the website. Copy and paste if you need to by copying, alt-tab to the word doc and paste. HIGHLIGHT the copied text to indicate that these are not your words.
Third action – underneath the copied text/graphic write a commentary -why did you copy it? What does it say? Why is it relevant to your studytopic. Why is this piece of information important.
Fourth action – all notes MUST be handed in as a portfolio with the final copy of the assignment AND these are included in the assessment rubric, along with the bibliographic data.
Two main criteria of the assessment rubric:
1. You MUST indicate the depth and breadth of your research by using intext referencing and an end of text reference list.
2. You MUST indicate your understandings by using your own words.If you fail to meet these 2 criteria then the assignment is worth NOTHING. It is only a collection of someone else's words and understandings. All the student has demonstrated is the skill to cut and paste using a keyboard.Students have a copy of the rubric BEFORE they begin the assignment (it is not supposed to be a mystery) and take time to ensure that they clearly understand what they have to do, expectations and consequences.
In other words – throw the responsibility for their learning back to the student. Professional development and the backing of your administration as a whole school approach is the only way to ensure that this approach will work and that studentswill learn how to use technology appropriately, efficiently andeffectively. Ask the teachers what they are assessing – student outcomesand undertandings or the ability to cut and paste?
Future developments will take the essence of this approach further, and be far more flexible, intutitive and embedded in best research practice of information professionals.
From the Centre of History and Media of George Mason University comes news of the 'educated browser' FireFox Scholar. According to this report the Web browser, the premier platform for research now and in the future, will achieve the kind of functionality that the users of libraries and museums would expect in an age of exponentially increasing digitization of their holdings,
" We are calling the project SmartFox: The Scholar's Web Browser, and it will enable the rich use of library and museum web collections with no cost—either in dollars, or probably more importantly, in secondary technical costs related to their web servers–to institutions. This set of tools will be downloadable and installable on any of the major open-source browsers related to the increasingly popular Firefox web browser: Firefox itself, Mozilla, and the latest versions of Netscape and the AOL browser (all based on the Firefox code base). SmartFox will enable users, with a single click, to grab a citation to a book, journal article, archival document, or museum object and store it in their browser. Researchers will then be able to take notes on the reference, link that reference to others, and organize both the metadata and annotations in ways that will greatly enhance the usefulness of, and the great investment of time and money in, the electronic collections of museums and libraries."
Read the full report here. It is also worth exploring some of their other tools here.