Monday, April 21, 2008

World Book's 21st Century Research Skills

I had a nice conversation today with an associate manager in the Digital Products division of World Book. They are in the process of developing research guides (one for teachers, one for students) to go along with a new website launch and wanted my thoughts on what 21st century research skills might look like.

At the end of our conversation I suggested that there were many folks in my learning network that World Book could tap for advice and asked if it would be okay if I blogged about it, so here it is. If you have thoughts you'd like to share with World Book please leave a comment below or, if that's just not enough room for your thoughts or resources you'd like to link to, here's a wiki page you're welcome to add to. If you have the time I would really encourage you to do so, as this will be yet another way to positively impact our students.


  1. Hey Karl,

    Great post---thanks for giving us the chance to get involved in the conversation.

    To me, the most important "21st Century Research Skill" would have to be learning how to use a feed reader to aggregate information on topics of interest, right? Kind of like the writing that you (and others) have done about using feed readers to create personal learning opportunities?

    I'm playing around with this a bit right now, using a Pageflakes Pagecast to organize materials for my students as they begin a research project on global warming/alternative energy.

    I've included a stream to my Delicious links on the topic, feeds from age-appropriate websites for kids to explore, and a message board for kids to ask and leave questions for one another:

    While my sixth graders need me to set up the basic structure for this project, I can see groups of children doing this kind of work together in the future----creating shared feeds, designing shared tags to use with social bookmarking services, etc.

    Information management is definitely high on my list of 21st Century Research Skills.

    A close second, though, would have to be validating information. Kids just don't seem to know how to verify what they're finding in their research----They miss bias, assuming that authors of websites are impartial.

    We've got to teach students that bias is far more prevalent in a world where content creation is easy than it was in an era when sources went through several steps of validation in the publishing process.

    Those skills are currently missing.

    Do these thoughts make any sense?

  2. @Bill - Yes, your thoughts definitely make sense. Although I would quibble with one point - I think we always should've been teaching our students to look for bias, even when we supposedly had better validation.

    I think a lot of our issues in this new information landscape stem from all of us assuming for a long time that "respectable" sources have been giving us correct and unbiased information. I'm not suggesting any conspiracy theories here, just that bias is a natural part of this and we should be alert to it.