Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Using Internet for Research

        A few days ago one of the comments I received had, "You did your research!" in it. Now I took it as a complement. Then I began thinking about what I had done on the Internet and what it was like before the Internet. 

       Today you can type in a few key words and come up with many sites which may have the information you are looking for. You have to  look at the source and decide whether it is reliable. What's really cool is that with each site there are usually links which take you to related sites. In other words the search engine does the leg work for you. Much of the information is easily downloaded. You can link your material to a site and your reader just clicks and they are at the site you used. On my previous post I was looking up dandelions. I found far more information that I had ever imagined so I linked my post to the site and if anyone wanted to check the site they could.

      Now I think back to when I was a child in a one room country school. There were probably 50 books in the bookcase. Most of them were fiction. By the time I was in Gr. 5 I had read "Planes for Bob and Andy" twenty-five times and wanted to be a pilot when I grew up. I didn't get into a proper library until I went to Teachers' College. We were told about the Dewey decimal system and how to find a book and sign it out. That's okay, but we had no  idea in our head about what we wanted to discover unless an instructor had given us an assignment. 

      Today schools have various forms of computers and make use of the Internet in many very practical ways.    When I last taught I used the computer for creative writing. The Internet was for the use of a dictionary. The Internet has come along way since then. Now there's room for kids to fool around on the Internet. Soon after I retired I went back to the school to use a computer. A teacher had his class in the computer room working on a social studies assignment. The two kids beside me looked for jokes the whole period. They even had the nerve to print off jokes. Their teacher checked them several times and they assured him they didn't have any problems!

     Now we have large public libraries with huge collections. One can browse through an area and find books that may be interesting. You still only guess if the book has what you're looking for. It's slow ponderous work. You do not get clues that spur you on to other ideas. Now the entire library catalog is on the net. I can browse in the library without leaving home. I have access to any book in a public library in Alberta. All I have to do is go down to the library and pick it up when it comes to my local library.

      Today with the Internet you can sit at home and discover new topics and add knowledge to things you already know without having to leave your house. Convenience? You can search the net in any twenty-four hours of the day. You don't have to wait until the library opens.

      So a simple comment the other day made me think how fortunate we have become to be able to use the Internet for research at any level... and even find some good humor from time to time!