Module 2- Find, select, store digital content First steps for the use of technology in the classroom

In this module, we will focus on the use of technology for finding and curating content. We will share some tips on how to search for content, using various search tools, and how to select and store this content afterwards in order to use it in your teaching activity. Although this topic might be regarded as rather simple, the increasing flow of information and digital sources nowadays, has highlighted the importance of searching and selecting relevant information in an efficient way. In addition to collecting content we will also touch upon the topic of using Open Educational Resources (OER).

Searching the Internet

Searching the Internet is probably one of the most widespread activities among technology users. The Internet contains a huge amount of information and offers great opportunities for teaching and learning. However, we all know that we can be easily be overloaded by all this information and get lost trying to find what we searched for.

Luckily there are strategies that can help us finding our way through information overload.

Different search engines

While most of us will probably tend to use Google, it might be useful to know that several search engines exist (and are just as reliable as our favourite). The type of search engine you decide to use will depend on what you want to use it for, as they work in different ways. Here is a list you might want to check out:

If you have younger students, you might want to check these search engines that have been developed especially for them:

Kiddle - a kid safe visual search engine, that returns either sites and pages written specifically for kids, or safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way, easy for kids to understand.

Kid Rex - a search engine for kids, made by kids, it emphasises kid-related webpages from across the entire web and screens and delete inappropriate content.

Search strategies

Whichever search engine you decide to go for, you might need to refine your (or your students) search strategies. First of all, one of the most difficult aspect in finding the right information and content is the ability to find the right question (or key words). As Susan Greenfield said: “In a world so rich in information and answers the most important skill for the learner is the ability to frame the question”.

Classroom activity: if you want to work with your students on how to improve their ability to find results on the Internet, you could try the following. Ask your students to work in pairs. Provide them with a specific topic to search for (this could be some specific aspects of the curricula you are going to cover in your next lesson, for instance). Before they access any technology, ask them to list different key words and search terms, so to have at least three different options for each pair. Once they are done, they can go on the search engine of their choice and try out the different options they had listed. Ask them to report on the best option and to to understand why this was the best option. As an extension, they could develop strategies to refine their search.

Read this article to see how you could help your students become better internet searchers, or look at these tips and tricks.

You can as well have a look at this video that shows you how to use Google at its best. Yes, we have to admit it: Google is indeed our favourite search engine.

Tool Box

Infographics have become a very useful visual tool for summarizing and presenting information. It is a good way to present information to your students. But it could also be prepared by students and in this way they can reach a more comprehensive understanding of the topic during the preparation process.

Picktochart is a very commonly used tool which one can use for free. Here is a short tutorial on how to use this tool.

Easel Ly is also an easy to use tool.

Select (and curate or store) content

Once we find content that is relevant for us, what do we do with it? Well, that depends on the kind of content and information we searched for. If we search for some specific content to be used straight away, we are easily served. If, on the contrary, we look for information or content to be used later on, we better find some way to easily retrieve this content. In the video below, you will find some useful information on Instagrok, a tool that not only facilitate your searches, but that on top help you storing and organising content. The video is taken from the European Schoolnet Academy course on “Developing digital skills in your classroom”. The MOOC has finished, but all material remains available and free, in case you are interested.

InstaGrok is a very relevant tool for organising the information and content that is found on the internet. There are however other tools or practices that can facilitate storing and retrieving content.

Have you ever heard of social bookmarking? Social bookmarking is a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents. Basically, people save bookmarks on a website and “tag” them, i.e. they use key words that describe content. In this way, you can also see what other people saved using key words that are relevant to your interests. One of this tools is Diigo. What we like most about this tool is the option of having sticky notes (like post-it, but in a virtual way) on the webpages you saved.

So far we have been exploring how to collect and store digital content. The following example is quite different. It was kindly shared by a teacher of kindergarten (Spanish speaking pupils aged 4 and 5). In this case, the teacher used Issuu (a free electronic publishing platform) to collect the work of her pupils and put it together to form a book. Children had been working together, collaboratively, to re-write and illustrate the story of the Ugly Duckling. The collection of all their work is presented here in the form of a book. Advantages: it looks like a “real” publication, everyone can get a copy (including parents) and it does not get destroyed nor lost before reaching home.

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution. The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was first introduced at a conference hosted by UNESCO in 2002 and was promoted in the context of providing free access to educational resources on a global scale. There are many definitions of the concept and specifics of OER. However, the most important aspect is the process of using and sharing knowledge and high quality educational resources.

OER could be texbooks, learning activities, lesson plans and many more. In fact, educators can rely on open educational resources to enrich their lessons, and can also edit those resources, improve and adapt them to their specific needs, e.g. translating them. Once adapted, the resources can be also shared with colleagues hence creating ever growing educational resources databases of higher and higher quality. There are many online platforms offering open educational resources. See below some of them:

This is the end of Module 2. Module 3 of the I-LINC learning materials focuses on communication, interaction and collaboration through digital tools. Follow the link below.

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