Teach learners digital content creation skills
At the same time, they must answer the following key questions:
- What type of information is sought?
- What academic database subscriptions are available?
In addition to this, learner-researchers must be fully aware of the research tools available in their academic disciplines. To facilitate this, educators could, for example, ask learners to submit initial lists of these resources gathered from a variety of research databases (e.g., Google Scholar, WorldWideScience, ResearchGate). This initial step would illustrate the similarities and inconsistencies between the selection and rankings represented by search tools in response to common query terms.
Another critical step is to research sources. Although everyone knows how to search for information on Google, many do not know how to write their search terms and queries correctly. So, to get your hands on the right sources, you have to use general terms (sometimes) or use very specific terms to weed out poor sources.
Key questions to be answered during the research phase include:
- What kinds of search terms will produce the best results?
- What do we expect from this research process
At this point, educators can help learners become better and effective searchers by demonstrating how different search terms generate different resources. They should include terms that yield results for websites with misleading content to show the need to be careful when searching for information. During online classes, educators can shoot an annotated screencast video of different research to teach learners how to create research in their field.
After research, the next phase is to select, where the challenge is to select relevant and accurate content. Engaging in this process requires a systematic review of available information to find themes and new avenues for further research to strengthen the outcome. The key questions that inform activity at this level are:
- What kinds of strategies would be appropriate to assess and verify the quality of the information collected?
- Is there an openness to the possibility that the conclusions are contrary to or modify the initial assumptions?
It can be beneficial to write a plan that includes topics to discuss. It can be a Word document or a graphically oriented “mind map”. To create a graphical representation of their projects, learners can use a tool like Coggle.
Allowing learners to take such actions can encourage them to create a plan of attack and easily identify the resources they have chosen.
Any assignment or research must have a properly summarized and synthesized report that clarifies the work performed. Additionally, educators often ask learners to write up their research findings in a report, but do not require learners to summarize individual sources. However, the ability to summarize an author’s position is critical to validating their integrity, as it often asks learners to identify gaps in the author’s reasoning. When a learner cannot reconstruct an author’s argument, the author’s work may not have a coherent argument. Therefore, resource assignments should include a requirement to summarize the arguments of the works used.
After synthesizing the results of the process, the main task is to determine the most effective and appropriate distribution format for external audiences. Traditionally in higher education, the gold standard for sharing has, by far, been the research paper. While this is likely to continue, researchers can now consider other ways to share their work in digital contexts, for example, via a website, blog, wiki, podcast, video, audio, social media, e-journals, academic and social networking sites. .
Educators are extremely interested in learners mastering content in their academic disciplines and achieving identified learning outcomes. Once all of this is done, consider the possibility of added value: learners demonstrate what they have learned by creating an authentic digital product. The internet offers a vast collection of resources and tools in each area, as well as tutorials and step-by-step instructions.
Typically, learners forget the research sources they used after completing the course. However, learners should be encouraged to become “intellectual hoarders” by preserving the stacked sources in a format that can be used later. As digital curators and consumers, there will be an ongoing struggle over what content should be saved or deleted immediately after use. These decisions are subject to considerations about access and capacity of storage options.
Information management is not limited to storing it as files on the computer or in the cloud. This can be a Microsoft Word document set up as an annotated bibliography of sources used by the learner. This allows the learner to investigate these sources later to see what might be useful to them in research.
If you want your learners to master digital content curation skills, consider guiding them through the digital content curation process to help them learn and practice these disciplines. Knowing how to perform a task will be very useful to them throughout their personal and professional lives, present and future.