Technology Information Literacy
Technology information literacy means that you should be able to access, evaluate, organize, manipulate, and present information all while utilizing the appropriate technology tools (Humes, 2004). In other words, merely finding information is not enough as students should be able to evaluate and validate information and be able to determine the reliability of the information found.
Importance of Technology Information Literacy for K12 Teachers
How it can be incorporated
Technology information is essential in today's classroom to prepare students for life after secondary school. Technology, as we know it, has been available to teachers in the classroom since 1963 when it was introduced by Stanford Professor Patrick Suppes (DeVillar & Faltis, 1991) and Richard Atkinson developed a program on computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in mathematics and reading. The program they developed allowed students to be individually instructed at their own pace and provided rapid feedback to the user. This concept was ahead of its time and the concept of computers in the classroom was still foreign to the vast majority of teachers. Technology has evolved and changed drastically since those earlier days, but there is still a fight to integrate technology appropriate and effectively into the curriculum and make it relevant for the students and easy to use for the teachers.
Computer Assisted Technology (CAT) has been used in the classroom for many years, as well as programs initiated by specific computer companies such as Apple, Inc. Apple created a program in the 1980s that provided for the introduction of technology into the classroom with a program called ACOT (Apple Computers of Tomorrow), whose objective was to get a computer in every classroom for every student. There were many pitfalls, but much information on how to integrate technology was also discovered in this study (Sandholtz, Ringstaff & Dwyer, 1997). Apple provided the following snippet of the ACOT program, which is no longer available on their site:
The ACOT research project concluded in 1998. After more than a decade of research, the ACOT project was one of the longest continuing educational studies of its kind.
During the 13 years of research, ACOT studied learning, assessment, teaching, teacher development, school design, the social aspects of education, and the use of new technologies in more than 100 elementary and secondary classrooms throughout the country. ACOT also collaborated with schools internationally to explore constructivism mediated by technology, emphasizing collaboration over the Internet. After more than a decade of research, the ACOT project was one of the longest continuing educational studies of its kind.
ACOT’s research demonstrated that the introduction of technology into classrooms can significantly increase the potential for learning, especially when it is used to support collaboration, information access, and the expression and representation of students’ thoughts and ideas.
Realizing this opportunity for all students, however, required a broadly conceived approach to educational change that integrated new technologies and curricula with new ideas about learning and teaching, as well as with authentic forms of assessment.
ACOT’s mission was to advance the understanding of teaching and learning in global, connected communities of educators and learners. This included investigating how teaching and learning change when people have immediate access to technology as well as helping people better understand how technology can be an effective learning tool and a catalyst for change.
Apple continues to work on the concept they started back in the 80s and you can read more about ACOT in its current incarnation here: http://ali.apple.com/acot2/
Other options in the classroom would be the use of wireless networks, electronic portfolios, portable technologies (such as MP3 players, etc.), virtual field trips and projects, Smartboards, as well as more basic technologies like a data projector or document camera or even an overhead projector.
Educational software exists for every subject and at every grade level. Whether it's preschool children using Starfall to help learn ABCs or early reading strategies or high school students using presentation software to provide the visual aid for a speech on the Civil War, computers and computer-related software can enhance the typical classroom and provide students and teachers with an additional arsenal of tools to supplement and enrich the educational and learning process.
As the technology in information literacy progresses, so must the knowledge educators have in order to implement them in K-12 schools. The promises for the future of education brought to us by the evolving technology demand it. “In order to create a learner-centered environment in which students can take full advantage of information infrastructures, it is vital that educators augment the traditional curriculum with collaborative, learning-through-doing activities based on linked, online materials and orchestrated across classrooms, workplaces, homes, and community settings” (Plotnick, 2000) .
Taking students through virtual exhibits, on virtual field trips, developing virtual cooperative communities where each student has a part to play, and involving busy parents through virtual parent/teacher conferences are just some of the promises for communal collaboration. Others are cutting down on the use of paper by using e-textbooks, corresponding with experts and authentic sources to create knowledge webs, teleconferencing, telementoring, teleapprenticeships, and peer tutoring. All of these promising means of using technology depend on K-12 educators being information literate in the new technology. “Our ability to be information literate depends on our willingness to be lifelong learners as we are challenged to master new technologies that will forever alter the landscape of information” (Plotnick, 2000).
There are many pitfalls to technology literacy. One major pitfall is the lack of professional development and support from the administration. Many school systems are pushing for the use of technology but the “ongoing faculty development is not available” (Wizer & McPherson, 2005, p. 17). Although the lack of support from administrators is “often unintentional,” teachers do not feel that the support is maintained throughout the school year (Wizer & McPherson, 2005, p. 17). Without support and professional development, teachers are less likely to incorporate technology into their classrooms.
Another major pitfall is “inadequate preparation of other teachers to teach about technology” (Young, Cole, & Denton, 2006). The teachers who teach technology classes are well prepared to teach students technology literacy, but the other teachers are not. Colleges are spending “virtually no time developing technological literacy in students who will eventually stand in front of the classroom” (Young, Cole, & Denton , 2006). If all curriculum teachers would integrate technology into their classroom, students would have a better idea of technology literacy. If preservice educators are not receiving instruction on developing technology literacy skills and they are not seeing these skills modeled by their instructors then this does not bode well for their future students.
Perhaps the most overlooked obstacle for teaching information literacy come from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), commonly known as NCLB. This is a United States federal law that was passed in the House of Representatives on May 23, 2001 and signed on January 8, 2002, that reauthorized a number of federal programs aiming to improve the performance of U.S. primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools. Additionally, it promoted an increased focus on reading and re-authorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). NCLB is one piece of federal legislation (another was Goals 2000) enacting the theories of standards-based education reform, formerly known as outcome-based education, which is based on the belief that high expectations and setting of goals will result in success for all students.
Much debate exists as to whether NCLB is effective or not and this particular article is not focused on this debate. But one disadvantage with regard to information literacy is that NCLB has no emphasis on information literacy skills. Thus, the required state standardized tests that are administered in all public schools to test for adequate yearly progress (AYP) are catered to specific skills in reading, math, and science. There are no information literacy questions and that means that schools are not encouraged to teach these skills, while instead focusing on the information that is likely to be tested on the various state versions of the NCLB standardized test. Information literacy is not the only subject that is deemphasized by NCLB as social studies, physical education, the arts, and foreign languages are also not covered by the NCLB standardized testing. This leaves more responsibility to individual teachers to try and integrate information literacy into other subjects. President Obama has shifted focus to a new STEM initiative. This is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Technology is now receiving attention, but this has yet to carry over to standardized testing.
Importance of Technology Information Literacy for K12 Students
What is technology? Is it the latest computer, the newest cell phone, the most vivid Game Boy? Yes, but technology also refers to advances in agriculture, medicine, and transportation, etc. In short, technology is a human creation to enhance our abilities, extend our lives, or attain our wants and needs. Humans have become increasingly dependent on technology since the first chipped-edged flint tool was created 1.5 million years ago (Dugger, 2001). Today’s technology is evolving at an astounding rate, and includes not only new technologies, but also the improvement of old technologies. Increasingly, people are finding it important for to be aware of, to understand, and to be comfortable with the operation of the technology that surrounds us while also learning how to adapt to new and evolving technologies that can be of benefit. As a result, there is an insistent call for technology education to be an integral part of the K-12 curriculum, so that students will be prepared to function responsibly in a technology-laden world. The goal is to provide all students with technology literacy, which will guide them in the understanding, responsible use, and management of technology, even as it changes throughout their lives. There are some key factors to consider when implementing a technology education program and these factors are going to be discussed in more detail. The factors are: the students’ abilities at different ages, selection of material and methods for teaching, and application of learning in real world situations.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a professional organization that seeks to provide leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in Pre-K through 12th grade and on into teacher education. More than 85,000 individuals are part of the ISTE organization. A big part of the ISTE mission is to provide the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). They actually produce a set of NETS for teachers and future teachers (like you) and a set of NETS for K-12 students. In 2007, ISTE released the new revised NETS for students. These standards address what students should be learning at various points through their K-12 education. For example, the NETS-S cover domains like creativity and innovation as well as communication and collaboration. Another domain addresses digital citizenship. Each domain described also has subpoints that also need to be addressed by schools and teachers as they prepare students for their lives beyond their K-12 education. The subpoints provide a more detailed example of how the domain objectives are met. For example, the domain "Research and Information Fluency" the following description with 4 subpoints:
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
- a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.
- b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources
- c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
- d. process data and report results.
While these standards were released in the middle of 2007, ISTE should eventually release supplementary materials that will spell out how to better meet these various domain objectives at each grade level. For example, the previous domain standards had the following description for teachers to use when trying to determine age appropriate and grade appropriate technology skills:
Prior to completion of Grade 8, students will:
1. Apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems that occur during everyday use. (1)
2. Demonstrate knowledge of current changes in information technologies and the effect those changes have on the workplace and society. (2) 3. Exhibit legal and ethical behaviors when using information and technology, and discuss consequences of misuse. (2)
4. Use content-specific tools, software, and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research. (3, 5)
Each of the standards are broken down into grade appropriate skills and objectives. If every teacher took the time to ensure that his or her students could meet the objectives spelled out on the NETS-S then all students would have gained the basic level of technology skills to help prepare them for the life beyond their K-12 environments. Meeting these grade appropriate benchmarks helps to ensure that all children are being prepared nearly equally with regard to technology.
Curriculum content and pedagogy
The decision to integrate technology into classrooms is now recognized as a worthwhile goal in education as most states now include such a goal in their educational standards for schools. As such, the attention now focuses on how best to accomplish this goal and looking closely at how educators need to teach to students and how the content/objectives might best be taught. Many educators and education observers now place an emphasis on helping students to achieve higher level or critical thinking skills. Students are expected to utilize their critical thinking skills (Plotnick, 1999) to solve problems in a technologically-based environment. For example, students might be required to use technology to solve a problem that is based on a teacher generated scenario (plan a trip to Italy and include a budget). These kinds of projects are not easily assessed by using a multiple choice tests. Instead, students must utilize skills that they have learned that clearly demonstrate technological competency. By performing these tasks students are taught how to use technology to accomplish a goal even when the objective of the project was not technology based. The technology becomes a tool to accomplish the task just as technology is being used every day by people in real jobs (e.g., a travel agent, a nurse, an insurance salesman, a stock broker).
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) developed standards for student learning that are not too unlike the ISTE standards mentioned ealier (NETS-S). The AASL places an emphasis on information literacy. In fact, Murray (2005) explains this emphasis by stating that “the student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively, evaluates information critically and competently, and uses information accurately and creatively.” The goals of technology information literacy are to promote lifelong learning among students, utilize critical thinking skills, and promote problem-solving skills (Plotnick, 1999). Information literacy is being recognized by many education organizations and professionals as something that should be taught in schools; now it's just a matter of getting it into the classroom teacher's repertoire.
Application of skills in the future
Technology is already ubiquitous (read: existing everywhere) in our culture, as Patricia Horn points out when she writes that "you cannot get a hamburger, buy groceries, or even sign for a package without being faced with technology" (2005). In the future, technology will be even more ubiquitous, requiring everyone from the minimum-wage worker to the stay-at-home mother to the government employee to be comfortable with its many uses.
In the future, students will use technology to be informed citizens if they aren't doing so already. They will ask, access, analyze, apply, and assess information via the Internet (Jukes, Dosaj & Macdonald, 2000, p. 11) that will help them be active participants in our democratic society. When students get to be of voting age, technology will provide them with access to the political process and to issues being debated and legislated. In fact, 2007 was the year when individuals started placing video clips on the popular Youtube site to pose questions to U.S. Presidential candidates. Nearly every politician now has a website where positions on issues are defined and where individuals can gain important information for making a more informed decision in the political process.
The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the Internet played a major role. A Pew study explained that during the 2004 campaign, "37% of the adult population and 61% of online Americans used the Internet to get political news and information, discuss candidates and debate issues in e-mails, or participate directly in the political process by volunteering or giving contributions to candidates" (Crowe, 2006). In the future, the role of the Internet in the political process will certainly expand as politicians recognize its power.
We already live in a largely wireless world -- we have access to the Internet from coffee shops, truck stops, our homes, and even some entire cities. In the future, wireless technology will be even more widely available, creating even more opportunities for collaboration. In this wireless environment of the future workplace, today's students "will be expected to have the basic skills in the areas of multitasking, collaboration, researching, synthesizing, and presenting" (Ketterer, 2005). An example of collaboration via the Internet are Internet-based word-processing programs that allow multiple authors to work on a document at the same time from different computers. The authors of "Ubiquitous Computing in a Web 2.0 World," for instance, worked on the article simultaneously at distances more than 100 miles apart using a Web-based word processor called Google Docs.
In conclusion, it is clear that technology will pervade all aspects of daily life in the future. Perhaps you are even in a class that is using an internet-based textbook (heh). Teachers must equip students with the "5 As" (the ability to ask, access, analyze, apply and assess information) if they are to become productive workers and informed citizens.
Responsibility of Technology Use As Educators
Society is heavily dependent upon technology as was noted earlier in this article. This reliance is going to increase as electronic means are created to gather information (Ham, 1997), which is now ubuntantly clear with search engines like Google and Bing. Thus, students need to be equipped with the technological skills to succeed in this technology-laden society and that responsibility falls largely to teachers. Even teachers who are not teaching technology literacy skills directly as part of the curriculum can still be modeling the use of the skills daily.
Many educators feel the need to extend their knowledge of technology but do not have the necessary tools or the incentive to do so. Lesson plans need to be formatted differently, even the way that we go about getting the content for our lesson plans needs to be different when teaching with technology (Wepner & Liqing, 2002). The responsibility shifts, from the school-mandated programs to teach students technology literacy, and falls on the teacher's shoulders.
When going through the reformat stage of your future lesson plans, keep in mind that you are not changing the idea of teaching your students the curriculum you are charged to teach; rather, you are just incorporating a different approach and an embedded curriculum. We have a responsibility to design a detailed instructional plan that includes objectives, procedures, grouping strategies and assessment techniques (Mwanza & Engestrom, 2005) and technology can certainly supplement and enhance this goal. For example, in the past a teacher might have had a required textbook that is followed to help shape the curriculum. No textbook was every perfect and rarely did a textbook meet all of the needs of the teacher. As technology becomes more ubiquitous there are teachers who are dropping their textbooks and using internet-based resources to better meet their specific curricular needs.
Standards for students have been created by national organizations to indicate what students should know about and be able to do with technology (see previous NETS-S discussion). These indicators should help us in formulating our lesson plans. While creating our lessons filled with technology literacy skills, it is important to keep regular curricular goals prominent as that's the key learning objecive (Bennett, 2005). Hopefully state and national standardized tests soon recognize the importance of technology literacy skills by including these items on the various state assessments. This move would instantly make teaching technology literacy skills an item of interest for all teachers. But even in the absence of being a focus on standardized tests, the fact of the matter is that technology is already a focus in our society and ignoring technology skills and literacies only serves to be a disadvantage to the students being served.
Evaluating Internet Resources
As schools move towards having students and teachers use and integrate more technology, this same technology is now providing access to more and more information, particularly online. Students and teachers need to evaluate websites to determine safety and security of the websites, to determine whether they fall under the acceptable use policy of the school and to ensure that all information is accurate and valid. This kind of check and the skills to evaluate content are becoming mandatory for all students as well as teachers who use the internet to acquire new information.
According to Frank Westcott (2005) “[t]here are many intentionally misleading Web sites. Your students need to know that they exist and how to recognize them.” If students are not given the tools to determine if information is misleading they will become vessels full of incomplete and incorrect information. In his article “Intentionally Misleading Web Sites,” Westcott gives multiple examples of misinformation or intentionally misleading websites that students may find when doing their research without looking further into the source or validity of the information. He mentions a website entitled “True Historical Examination”, www.martinlutherking.org, that may seem like a valid site but he states that it is hosted by a white supremacy group. Does being hosted by a white supremacy group lead one to believe it is a valid website to give a "true" historical examination of Martin Luther King Jr.? Westcott also mentions a site about the Civil War stating that the Confederate Army invented “balloon-fired guided missiles,” which many adults would know is not true, but a student may not be able to determine if the information is valid or not, unless they have been trained to look for signs of valid information.
Students need to be given the tools to determine website validity and reliability as well as how to search for those reliable sites. Without the training and information that teachers have to determine website reliability students will not have the ability in the future to use technology to their advantage but will find themselves drowning and will become “informationally oblivious” (Jukes, Dosaj, and MacDonald, 2000, p.7).
Reliability and validity with regard to the Internet:
- Reliability is generally meant to describe a website that is consistent in what it presents. If you read a website and have your students read the same material then everyone should come away with the same information from a reliable website. An unreliable website might have information that is murky and open for various interpretations by different audiences.
- Validity refers to how well the website covers the material is claims to address. If you can trust the information being presented on a website then the website is thought to be valid. If you cannot verify the information or trust the information then the website is not considered valid. Determining validity typically requires the reader to look at who owns the website; who wrote the website (author credentials); the age of the information/website, etc.
Teachers need to inform students on the steps necessary to find accurate information when conducting research using the Internet. Many students will click on Google, type in their search terms and decide that the first site that they come to is the one that they will use for their primary source. Teachers need to inform students of the accuracy and safety of information on the internet so that they have the tools to do research, the tools to use technology that is available to them, and the tools to change their search tactics if their current processes do not work. Students of the 21st century may be born with an iPod in their hand but they still need to be taught the processes and procedures for safe and accurate research, whether using the Internet or an older card catalog.
Communication tends to have a cascading effect, thus, information that comes from a teacher to their student will be judged as credible and taken as fact without question. If the information that we are communicating to our students comes from a textbook, journal or other hard database, the information is subject to hard scrutiny by numerous objective sources (Gorski, 1999). As a teacher, we cannot rely upon a publication company to review the authenticity of information posted anywhere online. Virtually anyone with access to the Internet can post anything they desire, and there is currently not an entity such as a publishing company that exists for the Internet (Gorski, 1999).
There are numerous tips out there for teachers to try when evaluating websites. Typically, school systems have a method of evaluation. If this is the case, that would be a great starting point. To make the evaluations even better and less general, make it specific to your class and to your standards. This is highly important as the material will likely be translated to your methodology of teaching (Barker, 2005). Joe Barker, of UC Berkeley, has outlined skillful evaluation techniques from training your eye to catch certain letters in the URL to training your mind to think critically, even suspiciously, of information posted (Barker, 2005).
As teachers, we sometimes begin researching our lesson by using a search engine. Barker suggests that before we even click on a URL from the results page, first we must scrutinize where it is coming from. Even though the results page typically only lists the URL and keywords, you can train your eye to detail. If the URL has a personal name such as jbarker or barker following a title, it is probably a personal page (Barker, 2005). Barker states that personal pages are not necessarily bad, this just means that you need to pay particular attention to the authentication of information provided on their site (Barker, 2005).
Another way to train your eye before clicking on a result is to look at the domain. Determining whether the URL ends in a .gov, .mil, .museum, or even an .edu will determine what level of scrutiny to apply to the content. These sites are typically revised regularly and reviewed by more than one person to verify content (Barker, 2005). However, there are some sites out there that have a credible ending to their URL that are not credible (e.g., a highly partisan college professor could have a URL site that ends in .edu but the information on his/her page might be quite biased). Regardless of the domain name or URL, a rigorous examination at a high or minimal level still needs to occur.
We know that the truth is out there, unfortunately, so is the lie (Gorski, 1999). We need to be able to discern between the two, and teach our students to do the same. You will find in the following sections different sites where you will be given accurate information for educators, students and parents. These sites have been evaluated and/or used by many teachers, both current and past, that have reviewed them and found them to be helpful to them and their students. Websites do have a tendency to change and evolve and it is our job to determine if the website we visit is safe and accurate, but you will find that the majority of the websites recommended here are both accurate and safe. Realize that the websites are not being endorsed by any of the writers here, but are merely suggestions for you to begin your search for recommended educational websites.
Elementary School Level
A. Teacher Resources
When teachers are choosing text resources from the Internet to use in the elementary classroom, they must first evaluate the curricular aspects of the web sites. The site must contain appropriate content, the information must be presented on the appropriate level, the resource must fit with curriculum objectives, and must be able to be integrated within the existing classroom management scheme. The article, “How to…Evaluate Web Resources,” offers specific guidelines to help teachers evaluate the curricular aspects of a web resource (Lindroth, 1999). After that evaluation is complete, teachers must still assess the accuracy of the site’s information. A number of rubrics for teacher web site evaluation are available on the Internet, but most focus on the same criteria: the author, date of publication or last update, source of information, and possible bias. A very thorough, easy to use rubric can be found at:
- WWW CyberGuide Ratings for Content Evaluation http://www.cyberbee.com/content.pdf (PDF document)
There are numerous interactive websites that teachers can utilize for the classroom, even at the elementary level, that are beneficial. An example of an interactive site is united streaming and can be found at: http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/. It provides short clips of educational material for students as well as teachers. For example, a second grade class could access the united streaming video on clouds that correlates with a science unit about weather. A follow-up activity for the students to complete on the computer is provided by unitedstreaming that is then based on the video. "As a teacher, you should always look at any sites you want your students to see before they do. This is especially crucial for younger students who will be unable to critically assess these sites and frequently accept everything they see or hear on a website as the truth" (Yahooligans, 2002).
B. Student Resources
Elementary school is a prime opportunity to begin teaching students how to evaluate text resources on the web. It is important to encourage students not to believe everything they read, especially with more user-created resources like Wikipedia becoming popular research tools. Studies suggest that elementary age children are able to identify inconsistencies and falsehoods if they are told to look for them in a particular resource, though they might not recognize them without prompting (Fitzgerald, 1999). At this age, it is often beneficial to limit the number of resources available to students, to avoid information overwhelm. The teacher can either give students specific URLs, or collaborate with school librarians and Instructional Technology Resource Teachers (ITRTs) to create a limited database to be searched (Beck, 1997). Within these limited resources, the teacher can include both quality web sites and intentionally misleading ones so students learn to identify the differences. With this closed-ended mixture of good and bad resources, students are encouraged to develop “deep reading skills” that would possibly fall by the wayside if they had to sift through the entire pool of web resources (Dempsey, 2003). Once they can distinguish a good site from a bad one, students can begin evaluating the site for specific criteria using a rubric. Examples of rubrics for elementary students can be found at:
- Web Evaluation for Primary Grades http://www.siec.k12.in.us/west/edu/rubric1.htm
- Critical Evaluation of a Website: Elementary Level http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/evalelem.html
Interactive sites are a great way to get students excited about learning. This is the digital age, where most students have access to a computer either at home or at the library. Students get tired and bored with paper worksheets, but have them complete that same sheet on the computer and suddenly it becomes fun to them. A good site for this is a math interactive Web site named eManipulatives and can be found at
Before the teacher allows students to go to these websites, an evaluation of the site should be performed. In an article by Kathy Schrock (The ABC's of Website Evaluation, 2002) she outlines and describes 26 criteria for teachers and students to look for when evaluating a website. She states, "If we strive to teach students the best way to critically evaluate the information that they find in relation to the purpose at hand, we will produce a generation of digitally literate adults who are equipped to learn throughout their lifetimes" (Schrock, 2002). In another article, Teaching Zack to Think (High School Principal Magazine) the author states, "As much time as we spend teaching kids how to find things on the Net, we need to expend 10 times more effort teaching them how to interpret what they've found, " (November, 1998).
Middle School level
Because students start developing higher-level cognitive skills in adolescence, middle school is the perfect time to design tasks that require students to practice evaluation.
Students’ ability to evaluate what they read and see on the Internet is essential for their success in school and for their lives outside of school. However, many middle school students blindly trust the information presented on Web sites. As social studies teacher Larry Lewin points out, “They assume if something is in print, it must be true, accurate, and useful information. Students must be taught to consider such factors as the author's qualifications and experience, the sponsoring organization or institution, the currency and relevance of the information, and cited sources” (Lewin, 1998, p. 50).
Many middle school teachers are frustrated by their students’ lack of interest (or lack of ability) in critically evaluating the Web sites they encounter. Middle school media specialist Jinnie McDonnell expressed this frustration: "My seventh grade info tech students are not driven to find correct answers, lost as they are in the Zen of the Internet experience. They have to be badgered all the way" (Minkel, 2000, p. 49).
In his article, “Burden of Spoof,” Walter Minkel suggests piquing students’ interest in evaluating Web sites by exposing them to some parody sites that could easily be mistaken for “official” sources of information. One of these, www.whitehouse.net, is a spoof on the official White House web site, www.whitehouse.gov. There are also many science, technology and medical spoof sites out there. A fun one that Dr. Teresa Coffman, professor of instructional technology at the University of Mary Washington, pointed out is the History of the Fisher-Price Airplane, http://www.weathergraphics.com/tim/fisher/.
After examining these and other parody sites with students, middle school teachers should lead a discussion of the following questions: “How can we be sure that what we find in a site is true? When should we look in other sources, like encyclopedias or periodicals, to verify things we read online? Why would people post things on the Internet that aren't true?” (Minkel, 2000, p. 49).
It would also be helpful at this point to provide students with a copy of Kathy Schrock’s guide for critically evaluating Web sites (geared toward Middle School students). It is a good idea for teachers to require students to complete Schrock’s checklist for any sites they use in their research for class assignments. A printer-friendly version of the document is available in Word or PDF form at http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/evalmidd.html.
In his article, “Intentionally Misleading Web Sites,” Frank Westcott provides some evaluation tips to share with students:
Be wary of Web sites with no author. Be wary of Web sites with a tilde (~) in the URL. The tilde usually indicates that the information provided on that page is separate of from the organization or institution named in the URL. For instance, students’ personal pages on a university Web site often have a tilde in the URL.
Use Google’s “links-to” feature to find out which sites link to the site in question. Sometimes the sites linking to a site will raise a red flag about its bias or credibility.
Use www.whois.net to find out who owns a site. For instance, a quick visit to www.whois.net would show students that www.martinlutherking.org is owned by the white supremacy group Stormfront. (Westcott, 2005).
Teachers need to give middle school students the opportunity to practice their evaluative skills. After teaching a unit on Jamestown and the Powhatan tribe (including the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas), social studies teacher Larry Lewin required his students to evaluate the differing versions of the Pocahontas story on the Disney site and on the site for the Powhatan Renape tribe (Lewin, 1998).
Students must learn how to evaluate what they read and see on the Internet if they are going to become critical consumers of the ever-growing amount of information out there.
A. teacher resources
Teachers should incorporate all types of websites into the learning process of students. Students don’t always need all of the bells and whistles on a website in order to learn.
Yahooligans! Teachers’ Guide has some great tips for teachers when assigning a project with which students are to use websites to complete. Check accessibility before assigning that site. That means make a recent check to the site and make sure it is still available don’t assume because you used it last month that it is still working. Also make sure that the information isn’t going to take extensive time to download. Secondly check the accuracy of the information that you are guiding your students to read. Remind students that “anyone with a computer and Internet access can publish a Web page can promote their point of view”. (Westcott, 2005,p.1)Thirdly you need to check the appropriateness of the website. Does the site contain age- appropriate material, is the reading level appropriate, and does it cover the information you need? Lastly, is it an appealing site? “By appealing we mean that a site is basically put together well and easy to follow. Just as a site with broken links is frustrating, so is a site that is hard to read. Students (and possibly teachers!) are going to have a hard time staying focused if they’re spending huge amounts of time struggling to read a site with a dark background and black text, font styles that are too hard to follow, or miniscule text and pictures.” (Yahooligans, 2002)
INTERACTIVE- sites that contain worksheets, fields that students are to fill in, etc.
In 2008, Google explained that they had already indexed over 1 trillion (yes, TRILLION) unique URLs online, thus the internet is larger than most of us can imagine and it's growing exponentially daily. Finding valuable information that you can use in your teaching or that your students can use to complete an assignment grows increasingly more difficult as more information must be sifted through. Once potential information resources are located, the second step requires additional extensive work conducting a comprehensive review of the accessed material. This step might be circumvented or greatly reduced if the material comes from a trusted site. “Many teachers, for example, have come to rely on the Web suggestions of librarian (now technology director) Kathy Schrock at http://discoveryschool.com/schrockguide. Instead of wading through hundreds of sites to find a few good social studies or math sites, they trust Kathy to do that for them.” (The Research Cycle, 2000).
B. student resources
How can students be expected to evaluate the usefulness of interactive worksheets and other materials culled from the Internet with which they can practice their lessons’ content? Although students would be able to gauge whether the content is relevant to their needs, they would not be able to judge the accuracy of the content. Though an organization might be cited, familiarity with the organization would be unlikely. Similarly, if an author were listed, students have little knowledge of determining whether the author, assuming he/she is cited, is reputable. Since students are so vulnerable in the first step of merely locating reliable and valid information, a potential solution in this case would be for students not to have to search in unknown sites on their own; though, students in middle school should be learning to use search engines. However, the teacher or school might provide a listing of trustworthy sites. The school might even use a filtering system to ensure that untrusted websites are blocked and that only approved sites are available to students. Unfortunately, this type of censorship will also often lead to valuable information being restricted and unavailable.
One popular online resource is video streaming. Video streaming include websites like Youtube or Teachertube and video streaming is, “the process of viewing video over the Internet” (Ross, 2005, ¶ 3). Teachers can download the video and watch it at the same time, which is called streaming. Teachers merely need a computer connected to the internet and they can show video, but a projector helps greatly. Video can be used to introduce a concept, supplement a lesson, provide a brief related moment of humor, and much more. Students can also view these on an individual basis. “Research has shown that the use of video content leads to more attentive, more knowledgeable, and higher-achieving students” (Ross, 2005, ¶ 4 ). One example of video streaming is DiscoveryEducation. There are thousands of videos available through DiscoveryEducation on every subject and every level. More information on DiscoveryEducation can be found at:
- DiscoveryEducation http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/
High School level
A. teacher resources
Interactive technology can be a very useful tool for any classroom. There are multiple types of interactive resources teachers can use. One of the most popular resources is games either on the Web or on CD-rom. These systems “can provide many self-directed learning strategies, thus stimulating student’s learning interests and promoting student-centered learning” (Yu, Wang, and Che, 2005, p. 94). Keeping students motivated and interested are two of the main goals of interactive gaming. They “incorporate knowledge, fun competition, cooperation, and virtual reality into learning” (Yu, et. al, 2005, p. 95). Like any website, an evaluation should be done on the online game that is in question to use. Here is a sample rubric for evaluating an online game:
- Educational Electronic Games Rubric: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/k/kaym/rubric/edgamesrubric.html
Other types of interactive resources include instant messaging, podcasts, Skype, and even blogging activities. These are all low cost resources. Instant messaging has been found to be “more personal, confidential, and targeted than the public space of a discussion list or chat room” (Abram, 2005). Podcasting allows students to record their own thoughts and ideas. Teachers only need to supply a microphone for students to record. “Skype is for calling other people all over the world—for free—on their computers” (Abram, 2005, ¶ 12). This could be either an add-on or replacement for a pen pal in other countries. Blogging is a form of electronic journal writing, but in a public and potentially interactive manner.
Skype Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype
MULTIMEDIA- sites that contain sound or video files to teach students
Multimedia instruction is an interactive method of teaching and uses text, graphics, video, animation and sound to instill meaningful learning for students (Juhas, 2004, p.1).
- motivate students to participate.
- integrate all the language arts -- reading, writing, listening, and speaking across curricular areas.
- Multimedia projects
- create real reasons for reading, writing, and revising communication.
- give students a larger audience than the teacher and the classroom.
- require students to analyze sources and think about evidence in new ways.
- lead teachers to think about their students, classes, and lessons in new ways. Reflection and revision of teaching strategies naturally evolve with the projects.
- require higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. These projects promote non-linear thinking and give divergent learners a chance to shine in the classroom.
- move teachers from the role of lecturer and classroom authority and into the role of learning coach or facilitator. They create student-centered classrooms.
- increase students' literacy and prepares them for the technology-based communication skills required in the workplace today and tomorrow.
- let teachers address multiple intelligences and learning styles in the classroom.
- naturally employ the range of resources and approaches by which most students learn best (Cherry, 2002)
B. student resources
High school students are in a tremendously advantageous position when it comes to conducting research. There is a plethora of websites that contain interactive games, simulations and overall informative topics. However, this is not always good. Many students today are required to complete an interactive website as a class project. People researching a topic may not realize that the website they are looking at earned a 65% from an 11th grade History class. This is echoed by Hope Tillman, “…within the morass of networked data are both valuable nuggets and an incredible amount of junk” (Tillman, 2003). Students will often neglect printed material and look at the Internet first because “web pages must be the correct source because it is the most current and easiest to access form of information" (Kapoun, 1998).
Students need to develop a systematic approach to assessing the proper tools that are necessary for conducting research and then to assess the information that is gained from that search (Tillman, 2003). One great way of evaluating search tools, specifically interactive websites, is by using a rubric. Some are straightforward, such as the group of rubrics found through Cornell University’s library website:
Rubrics for Evaluating Websites http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webeval.html
By using the link above, students can determine which evaluation procedure is most suitable for their needs. Depending on the research assignment and their own comfort level in evaluating a website, students can choose the specific evaluation criteria.
Many students are not yet net savvy enough to use a rubric and determine the true effectiveness of a website. The library at the University Libraries of Albany in New York developed an interactive tutorial and criteria for evaluating Internet resources: http://www.internettutorials.net/
One of the newest Internet multimedia resources is Podcasting. This “is an automated technology that allows listeners to subscribe and listen to digitally recorded audio shows" (Flanagan, 2005). The files are downloaded onto an MP3 player or a computer. Students can download everything from a teacher’s lecture to previously recorded audio files on a wide multitude of subjects. David Warlick explains that educators “can share their knowledge, insights, and passions for teaching and learning and for the stories that they relish and teach.” He began a website where teachers and students can download educational Podcasts:
Education Pod Network http://epnweb.org/
Along with Podcasting, many teachers are now recording lectures or lessons with audio and video and placing the instructional file on sites like YouTube.
Choosing Appropriate Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning
What is appropriate?
When choosing to incorporate technology into a lesson, teachers should choose technology that allows “students to be productive, innovative and enterprising” (TEFA Online, 99). Teachers need to be certain that incorporating the technology does not hinder the learning process for the students, but instead leads to a deeper understanding of the topic. Technology should “bolster instruction and help students develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills” (Brown, 2002, p. 4). To help teachers decide what technology is the best to use, Professor Bell at Michigan State University designed this rubric:
Technology Rubric: http://www.msu.edu/user/wegnerje/TechnologyRubric.htm
B.F. Jones, G. Valdez, J. Nowakowski, and C. Rasmussen (1995) developed The Technology Effectiveness Framework that shows how to use technology to get a deeper understanding and allows students to reach the higher-levels of thinking. They have split the framework into three parts:
- Categorize how each technology is typically used in schools;
- Highlight some exemplary approaches/programs in each technology
- Consider how the design and/or school uses of each technology could be configured to move more toward engaged learning and high performance (Jones et al, 1995).
One of the technologies that Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, and Rasmussen (1995) break down into these three categories is the Internet. The Internet allows for students to be the center of the learning stages where they can explore and collaborate with students outside of their classroom. “John Dewey’s idea that children would learn better if learning were truly a part of living experience can be seen when examining the use of the Internet with students” (Feldman, 2000, p. 7).
Are there assessment tools available? What are they?
There are assessment tools available for choosing appropriate technology and technological tools for teaching and learning. Research has provided a site that offers a rubric that can be used to score technology usage within a lesson plan. It can no longer be found, but here is a PDF alternative if you scroll to the end. Teachers can use it to help guide them and ensure proper alignment with curriculum objectives and lesson planning. Teachers can also create rubrics that are specifically designed for each assignment and provide students with parameters for projects. Rubrics can also be created to provide students with guidelines as to what is expected from them before they begin their projects. By technologically creating rubrics in this way, students have more of a focus when using websites to search for information, and teachers are able to change their requirements easily depending upon the grade level and depth of the project.
In NetSavvy, Jukes, Dosaj, and Macdonald (2000) have provided a template for students to use to analyze websites according to content, authorship, sources, authentication, and presentation. This template provides students with the tools and knowledge to critically analyze the source of the information they plan to use in a project or presentation. Other templates are provided for students and teachers to use when documenting technology sources, thus providing them with the tools necessary to determine whether websites are appropriate for the project being researched, as well as the accuracy of the information being provided.
Assessment of whether information is accurate or not falls upon the teacher to choose appropriate web sites, and by utilizing electronic and library databases, teachers are able to access information that has already been assessed for its content through the database itself. Not all databases are created equal and they all have different rules for searching, but they all provide access to websites, articles, published works, and references to information that a student or teacher may need for research. By being able to accurately assess the information provided on a database, utilizing the rubrics provided by NetSavvy (Jukes, Dosaj, & Macdonald, 2000), as well as the rubrics found at the above wesite, teachers and students will be become technologically literate.
How can we avoid inappropriate sites?
The Safe Kids website at http://www.safekids.com/ explains possible risks that children may face when going online, methods of avoiding risks, and also guidelines parents and educators should follow to help prevent online dangers.
Most schools today filter the Internet to avoid many websites that can be inappropriate. Also, major search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, can be pre-set to automatically block many websites with adult themes by changing the preferences on a given computer. While this mode may block out “adult content” some sites may still display items that could be age or content inappropriate. Google and Yahoo may not be suitable search engines for younger students. There are several other search engines that do cater to younger children that teachers, especially at the elementary level, can use. But if educators can teach students how to avoid dangers on the Internet it could go a long way towards preventing unexpected and bad results.
By providing students with the tools to avoid inappropriate content and inappropriate sites, educators are providing them with the tools that they will need online to be productive and safe.
Using Library Databases and Electronic Databases
What is a Library Database?
There are two main questions that arise during the discussion of the use and necessity of library databases, the first being "Why would you or your students use library databases to conduct research?", and the second being, "When would it be more productive to use a library database that your school library subscribes to for students, teachers, and staff than to use the Internet?".
Why would you or your students use library databases to conduct research?
Library databases are used to locate journal or newspaper articles and they are updated daily-to-monthly (Alverno, 2005). One thing to keep in mind when searching library databases is that it may or may not provide you with the entire article, sometimes you may only find an annotated citation. However when providing a citation it will also include the title, issue, page number, and any other information that you might need to find the entire article. Many online library databases provide the option to search for full text only as well. These same databases might even allow you to search for scholarly information that has gone through a peer-review process to ensure it's value. Additionally, libraries try and update their information and you can better ensure that information is reliable and/or valid when a librarian has sifted through the information. The Internet allows anyone to post information without providing continuous updates or without any kind of verification of fact provided.
When would it be more productive to use a library database, that your school library subscribes to, for students, teachers, and staff?
Based on the research by Alverno (2005, September ), it is more productive to use library databases when you are searching for journal and newspaper articles. Librarians can provide students, teacher, and staff with lists of information concerning each school database and how it is broken down into different subjects. Many school databases, depending upon their budget and staffing, will be broken down into the following general areas: expanded academic (scholarly journal, news magazines, and newspapers that cover all academic subject areas), general reference center (newspapers, reference book, magazines, and trade publications), student editions (such as periodical databases designed for high school students), and professional collections (some contain hundreds or thousands of full-text educational periodicals). Researchers can choose one or more of these topics and be able to search by subject, article title, author, key words and more. Many databases are even accessible to students and teachers from places outside the school, although passwords are sometimes required (Shiffler, 2005).
Madeline Albright, a former teacher, began teaching her own students how to be better researchers and to accurately assess Internet sites, which she discusses in the following interview, “I used to be one of these people who spent large portions of my life in the library with index cards, looking things up and writing them down, I felt as though the information had to go through me, so to speak. And – this makes me sound antediluvian- trying to figure out what information was relevant to what I was doing was also part of the process. Now, you can click onto Google and the information just comes up in whatever order some dataset muck-a-muck has decided. So what I’m doing with my students is trying to get them to use information not in long papers, but to change it; to know the quality of the information being used, and to in some way go through the process. But I have to tell you it’s a challenge, because it’s an entirely new way of turning information into knowledge,” (2003).
What is an electronic Database?
Electronic databases are prevalent in today's technologically-immersed world, and continue to grow and become useful for many professions and topics. "An electronic database is a collection of information that can be searched by computer" (Friends Academy, 2006). Electronic databases are used to help researchers locate periodical articles that relate to their topic. Databases have also been used in public to create a place where officials can find information that they need for criminal records, health records, etc.
According to the tutorial for Expanded Academic ASAP User Tutorial, an electronic database can be defined as "an organised list of published information sources (usually journal articles), either giving directions (a citation) to where you can find the full information or containing the information itself (full-text databases) (Thompson Gale, 2005). One thing that is absolutely significant to databases is that they function differently based upon the content that they cover. Not all databases are created equally, thus it helps to understand the particulars of the database before utilizing its multiple functions.
Databases differ from company to company and from state to state, but they are all warehouses of links to information that teachers, and students alike, will be able to find information necessary for reasearch. There are multiple databases provided by local libraries, schools, and universities, such as InfoTrac Onefile, which provides access to educational research materials; The Library of Congress Database; WilsonWeb; Expanded Academic ASAP; Lexis Nexis Academic; American Poetry Database, etc. The Grand Valley State University's Library Website (http://www.gvsu.edu/library/) contains databases for educators that include Education Research Complete, ERIC via CSA, Education Abstracts, & JSTOR among others. Local libraries also contain their own databases, as well as hospitals, insurance companies, and various other businesses which have their own internal databases to provide them with the research necessary to find answers to their own questions. Electronic databases exist for the help of electronic researchers to both broaden and narrow the search for information.
Electronic databases can also provide full-text databses, but students need to understand the difference between a standard database which may only provide access or reference to information, and a full-text database. "First students must realize that such databases exist and then we have to persuade them to point the browser in the right direction" (Matthews & Wiggins, 2001). An excellent example of the difference between an electronic scholarly database, or library database and merely using Google or Yahoo: it's "like walking into the mall and shouting "Hey, anybody know the side effects of tetracycline?", you might get an answer, but wouldn't you rather ask that question of an authority, such as your doctor?" (Matthews & Wiggins, 2001).
Electronic Databases-How are They Different From Library Databases?
The past few years have seen big changes in the way research is conducted. Using a library database is a time-consuming process that can provide valuable results. However, using a library database cannot bring you the results in a short time frame, as it takes quite a significant amount of time to refine your research to produce needed material. The greatest benefit to using a library database is the security of the information that you will find, "if students click on the school library's databases and catalogs, they have albeit virtually stepped through the doors of the building itself. If they click on an Internet search engine, however, they have hurled themselves into the entire world, the world of cyberspace. Once students understand and acknowledge that difference, they seem almost comforted by taking the less risky step of remaining in the confines of a more familiar, albeit electronic, circumscribed world" (Jenson, 2004). This is not to say that library databases are better, but when doing research for educational purposes, it may be wise to consult the library database, and most especially the libararian.
If research is being done within a library of hard copies, it is a great help to have the assistance of a librarian. A librarian can assist researchers with varying techniques of locating the information as well as processing it. At times, it is difficult to call upon the help of a librarian as they are serving such a large number of the population. At Herrick District Library in Holland, MI, six librarians serve a population of 105,000 (Roncevic, 2002). Traditional print items are becoming scrutinized in terms of continued procurement and transitional formats for electronic uses.
An electronic database is different from a library database only in structure. The general basis of results is primarily the same. Performing a search with either database is going to generate several works in which the researcher can choose from. However, an electronic database differs from a library database in that the timeframe is significantly shortened in a library database, and the location of generated results typically is inconsequential if they are listed in full-text formats. We can endlessly defend the value of books, but we can no longer deny the many advantages of electronic resources: their ease of use, cross-searching capabilities, and simultaneous and remote access options (Roncevic, 2002).
Librarians are witnessing a shift in resources that they offer. In an ideal world, many librarians would like to see their libraries with both print and electronic resources. However, economically, this is a tough feat to accomplish (Roncevic, 2002). An electronic database is difficult in nature to build in terms of cost. An electronic subscription to a journal may cost twice as much as the print version (Roncevic, 2002). Though there are many ways in which electronic databases can help the researcher, it is often difficult for the database to be generated because of funding.
Both databases offer a wide variety of results for any type of research. As our classrooms become more enriched with technology and our society becomes more netsavvy, print databases will become less popular. Our society is already at a point of familiarity with technology that print databases become frustrating. We are in a ‘now’ state of mind when it comes to research, in that we do not want to waste time on a wild goose chase to produce valuable results. In many libraries, using a print database can be difficult since the options are becoming limited. Electronic databases are becoming more prominent in schools and regional libraries throughout our county. The shift from print to electronic is inevitable.
How can databases be used? What are they good for? What are they not good for?
It is important for teachers to recognize when it’s appropriate for students to use electronic databases in their research. If the objective, for instance, is for students to develop information literacy by evaluating the credibility and appropriateness of the information they encounter, perhaps the Internet is best because it requires students to sort through misinformation and unreliable information to get to the facts they’re seeking. But if the goal of the assignment is in part to familiarize students with scholarly journals and expose students to the detailed research conducted by others, then electronic databases are best.
The teacher also should consider the topic students are researching. If they are researching a current event that occurred within the past few months, the Internet of course provides the broadest scope of up-to-the-minute information. But if the students are researching a scientific topic or perhaps a topic in literature, electronic databases can provide the most relevant information culled from many sources. Teachers must always provide as much information for their students as possible, "this means including step-by-step instructions that have been tested and proved accurate each time the exercise is assigned. Given the continual updates and a change that academic libraries necessarily experience, this step is crucial. Providing incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading instructions is often more detrimental than providing none at all" (Jenson, 2004).
Using databases for research ensures that students are accessing credible information. Students can use either selective (subject-specific) databases, in which the content has been selected to support the topic, or comprehensive databases, which contain thousands of journal, magazine and/or newspaper articles (Gilbert and Regenbogen, 2000). "However, the last item on such a research exercise should give them the opportunity to write down any questions they still have about what they are to do in the library or how they are to do it" (Jenson, 2004).
In order for students to use databases effectively for classroom projects and research, teachers cannot assume that students will automatically know how to search databases because they know how to search the Web. Searching is a learned skill and students are no longer growing up card catalogs and the bi-weekly Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature that students used to go to the school library to learn to use to find current event literature. Now, students can search many school libraries from home.
With younger students, certain databases can be great tools because, unlike the vast Internet, a library database can be tailored to the students’ comprehension level. Also, they provide solutions to some of the obstacles that face younger students in their searches for information. Beth Dempsey (2003) notes that many premium children’s databases are available free through statewide information resources and the websites of local libraries.
Kids InfoBits, a child-friendly spin-off of InfoTrac, is aimed at students in grades kindergarten through five. It culls only those resources appropriate for children and does not contain advertising (Dempsey, 2003). “The younger group often can’t narrow their topic to a single phrase, or if they can, they don’t know how to spell it. Kids InfoBits ™ opens with a lively icon-rich topic tree that enables children to click and drill down to a single topic” (Dempsey, 2003).
For younger children, databases like Kids InfoBits do what an Internet search engine can’t: “Organize vast resources into a narrower range that's child-friendly, highly structured so kids can find things easily, and vetted for appropriate content” (Dempsey, 2003). Because databases can sometimes provide more meaningful content for young students than the Internet, teachers should check with their school’s media specialist about the school’s access to children’s databases before starting a research project.
The Big 6
This is a program created by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz that breaks down teaching information literacy into 6 Big Steps. Each of the Big Steps have two sub-groups. One point that they make is that the steps do not have to be linear, but all of the steps will be completed before the task is over. The Big 6 are: Task Definition, Information Seeking Strategies, Location and Access, Use of Information, Synthesis and Evaluation. One aspect of this program that I like was that if you simply answer each of the Big 6, it automatically creates your lesson plan for you. The site does provide an ample supply of lesson plans, created by teachers, as a resource.
This page is in wikipedia itself and provides many good resources.
Information Literacy and You
Penn State University has provided a great step-by-step guide to help students learn how to research. It walks the student through nine steps, including copyright concerns. Each step is simple and concise, and even though it is designed for college students, it can easily be used by high school students. One drawback is that certain steps use databases that are licensed to Penn State University libraries; however the basic principles for searching and identifying databases and periodicals are useful.
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