This article in the Washington Post does a great job of capturing the changing nature of students doing research. (Via Tenreasonswhy.) A quote: “But they [students] also value information-gathering over deliberation, breadth over depth, and other people’s arguments over their own. This has educators worried.”
We struggle with this mightily, and I am constantly thinking about the implications that weblogs could have on student research. The collaboration potential for research is what really interests me. How might kids be better served by doing joint research with reflection in a shared space where they could work out their ideas in the asynchronous, more thoughtful environment that Barbara alludes to? Certainly, collecting the information is important, but challenging the depth and reliability of that information is equally as important. We do a good job teaching the former, I think. We don’t do so much with the latter, primarily because of the time element involved. Hypertext certainly facilitates a teacher’s ability to check sources and the correctness of the information. But we don’t have the time to really challenge those assumptions with additional research.
How about this…a collaborative research weblog where students are required to try to prove each other wrong by challenging either the information or the source, then come to consensus as to where truth lies, then write the essay or story? (They could each write it based on their collaborative efforts.) A reading of the weblog would (hopefully) show students actively engaged in not only collection but reflection on what they collected. Again, probably not a new idea, but how much easier could it be for the teacher to interact and assess the process in weblog format?