Teacher Tap

Research in the Digital Age

Like cats, young people enjoy using technology in the research process.

Cat and Telephone

Integrate technology throughout the inquiry process. Many online tools are available for brainstorming and feedback, electronic journaling, digital note taking, collaborative concept mapping, and online citation building. Select the technology that works best for you and your students.

Brainstorming and Feedback

Explore ways that technology can be used to brainstorm, gather ideas, and provide feedback.

Option 1
Design a project starter using TodaysMeet, Wallwisher, or Answer Garden.

Electronic Journaling

Inquiry AASLStandard 2.1.4 - Students to use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.

Journaling is the ongoing process of recording information, insights, and ideas.

In a research project, consider ways that students can document the inquiry process including brainstorming and refining question, describing information exploration, discussing how information is assimilated, sharing insights and inferences, and reflecting on the inquiry process (Callison, 2006).

Blogs and microblogs can be used to document each step such as chronicling resources and reviews. These notes can be public or private.

Commenting is one of the unique features of blogs. Think about ways this feature can be used to enhance learning.


Microblogs such as Twitter are effective for stort entrie;, easy to track assignments; short, free-writing activities; and quick website sharing.


Blogs work well for projects that require longer entries and are also useful for multimedia activities such as images, audio, and video. They are also easy to track. Use Google Reader to track class postings.

Commenting is an important elements of blogging. It allows bloggers to comment on their own writing by extending their ideas, providing supporting evidence, or reflecting on the inquiry process. Blogs also allow peers to make suggestions, provide feedback and share ideas.

While students write, others can comment. No paper, so no more pencil finger.

OPTION 1: Personal Inquiry with Twitter

Create a new Twitter account. Use Twitter to share your inquiry process.
Explore alexcybernaut example. Also notice how it has been intergrated into a Google Sites project.

What are your interests?
What topic did you select and why?
What are your questions?
What words will you use to search for information?
What criteria will you use for evaluation?
What are three of the best web-based resources on your topic? Why?
What do you find difficult about evaluating websites?
What ways could information be organized?
What three pieces of information do you find most interesting?
What new questions do you have about your topic?
How could your ideas and information be shared?
What online tools did you use to share your ideas?
Where can your final product be found online?
What were the strengths and weaknesses of your project?

OPTION 2: Google Blog Search

Create a Google Reader account to organize your blogs.
Use Google Blog Search to locate blogs of interest.
Add the following feeds as practice: Off The Track, Nature Sketchers, Google Apps, Scientific American RSS, Gizmag

OPTION 3: Weebly

Use Weebly to create your own webpage and blog.

Digital Note Taking

AASL Standard 1.1.8 - Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry
AASL Standard 4.1.7 - Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.
AASL Standard 4.1.6 - Organize personal knowledge in a way that can be called upon easily.
AASL Standard 4.3.1 - Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Note taking is the process of writing pieces of information that can be reviewed later. There are many approaches to note taking. For instance, the Cornell system (PDF from Cornell) includes five Rs: (1) record meaningful facts and ideas; (2) reduce to main ideas and summaries; (3) recite the most important terms, concepts, ideas, and conclusions; (4) reflect on personal opinion and perspective; and (5) review.

Online Word Processing Tools

Online word processors are great because they can be accessed from anywhere. In addition, peers can be invited to share ideas and the results can be published on the web.

OPTION 1: Explore Titanpad

Open Digital Child Titanpad.
Add an idea to the day in the life of a child.

OPTION 2: Create a template in Google Docs

Open Google Docs.
Create a NEW word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation document.
Go to Google Templates. Add your document as a template.

Social Bookmarking Tools

Social bookmarking tools allow users to bookmark, tag, annotate, organize, and syndicate websites.

To learn more about social bookmarking, go to my class page at Pathfinders and Social Bookmarks.

OPTION 3: Create social bookmarks with Delicious

Go to Delicious.
Create an account.
Bookmark and annotate news websites such as CNN, USATODAY, MSNBC.

Highlighting Tools

Highlight a web page and save the notes as a short URL.

OPTION 4: Compare Highlighters

Try The Awesome Highlighter and Backboard. Compare.

Note-Taking Tools

While students take and store notes, teachers assign and participate. No more lost notes.

OPTION 5: Compare Springnote and Zoho Notebook

Go to Springnote. Create an account.
Add to the cybernauts project.
Create your own project.

Go to Zoho Notebook. Create an account.
Create a document with multiple pages.

Compare Springnote and Zoho Notebook.

Collaborative Concept Mapping

AASL Standard 1.1.9 - Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.
AASL Standard 2.1.5 - Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.
AASL Standard 3.1.4 - Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.

Concept maps are a great way to record, organize, and synthesize information in a visual way.

While students synthesize and share, teachers collaborate and suggest. No more copying.

Option 1: Try Webspiration

Create a Webspiration account. Create a document. Share with a workshop peer.

Option 2: Compare Tools

Compare two concept mapping or whiteboard/stickynote tools.

Option 3: Create a Stixy

Use Stixy to create a project.

Online Citation Building

AASL Standard 1.3.1 - Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers.
AASL Standard 1.3.3 - Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information.

Whether citing books and journals or online content such as a Skype interview, e-mail conversation, or NASA website connect, students need to record the resources they use in their research. Teach students to cite as they go, learn multiple styles, and cite all information types.

For older learners, consider a commerical package such as End Note. You can download a trial.

Looking for other technologies to integrate into projects? Check the Web 2.0 Awards.

Option 1: Compare Tools

Compare two citation builders. Compare NoodleTools with another tool.

Other Web 2.0-type environments to explore:

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