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Internet Inquiry Project-S. Shetenhelm


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A look at how adults do Internet searches

A look at how adults do Internet searches

Published in: Technology, Design

  • Positives. I liked…
    - the design of your inquiry, especially the way you set up the tasks and the questions.
    - how you connected to the readings.
    - since you did not have your own class, you had to be a bit creative. Very good.
    Suggestions. For next project, I want you to really try to…
    - make your report fit the presentation mode. In this case, you were to produce Powerpoint slides. I thought the slides had too much information, and seemed at times to be basically a short paper put onto slides.

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  • Positives:
    • Connected to the course readings
    • Connected to additional resources and embedded links in your Powepoint slides
    • Included samples of participants’ responses

    Some arguments in the slides needed more explanation. For example, you mentioned participants used internet search for a variety of reasons. You could say more about the reasons. It would also be helpful to explain why participants were knowledge about Internet searching but were frustrated in the mean time

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  • Dear Sarita,

    Like you, I suspect that adults are more aware when searching the internet than children, but doing this project has certainly made me realize how easily I fall into the 'look for the answer as quickly as possible' mode. In order to teach students to think more deeply about reliability of sources of information, we've got to think more deeply ourselves first!


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  • 1. Internet Inquiry Project Sarita Shetenhelm CEP 806- Fall 2007 David Wong
  • 2. Importance of the Internet
    • Internet is a vast resource of information located at our fingertips.
    • Internet Searching is now a Michigan Benchmark
      • According to the State of Michigan website, for grades 3-5 students are required to be able to:
        • “ Identify search strategies to find information on the Internet”
        • “ Provide correct citations of online sources”
  • 3. Importance of Internet cont.
    • Since this is a new state benchmark, what about those students who went before? Do they have proper search techniques? Or do they just get by with what they know?
    • There is a generation of people who did not grow up with computers, they have had to learn these technological skills on their own.
  • 4. Reasoning
    • I chose to use adults for this inquiry because I do not currently have a classroom. Knowing what I know about education (5 years experience) I thought it would be interesting to see how adults would handle an Internet inquiry, but I used a kid friendly topic that I could use later in classroom.
  • 5. Predictions
    • Adults will be more drawn to websites that are government or educationally related ( .gov or .edu.)
    • I believe this will be true because adults have more experience with credible resources on the Internet.
    • Adults will be highly motivated to finish this survey as soon as possible.
    • Adults value their time and therefore will get the survey done quickly.
    • Adults will pay more attention to credibility of a website.
    • Adults will look for more credible resources because they have a greater amount of life experience.
  • 6. Data Collection
    • A survey was used to collect the majority of the data. It was given to 15 people, but only 4 responded.
    • Three other individuals were observed while doing this survey.
    • A kid-friendly topic, volcanoes, was used for this inquiry.
  • 7. Survey Questions
    • The following questions were asked on the survey
    • 1) How long have you owned a computer?
    • 2) Do you complete any Internet Searching?
    • 3) Please use the Internet to answer the following question. What are the 10 most active volcanoes in the World?
    • a) Did you use an Internet search engine to find your answer?
    • b) If so, which search engine did you use?
    • c) What words did you use to complete your search?
    • d) Fill in the chart below:
    What did you find on this website? Does it appear to be a credible website? Website Address
  • 8. Survey Questions Cont.
    • 4) I have two websites here. Please take a look at each of them—I think one is better than the other. Which did you think is better and why?
    • a)
    • b) /Maps/map_plate_tectonics_world.html
    • 5) What are the top ten active volcanoes?
  • 9. And the Survey Says…
    • My survey participants preferred to use the search engine Google over any other search engine (see following graph).
    • All participants currently search the Internet for a variety of reasons.
    • Most participants used the same search words that they were given, but in a different order.
  • 10. Just for fun 
  • 11. Survey Says Cont.
    • All participants have owned a computer more than 10 years and on average about 17 years. Which means they had a lot of experience.
    • Overall, most adults used websites that ended with .edu and .gov (See the next chart). This shows that adults do think about credibly when searching the Internet.
    • The most used website by my users was with five of the seven participants using this site. As you can see this is a site that is affiliated with an educational institution.
  • 12.  
  • 13. Observations
    • While watching the three participants doing the survey I noticed:
      • They did the survey very quickly and really wanted to get it done as fast as possible
      • One of the three participants became frustrated after about five minutes of searching because of the vast amount of unusable websites that came up. This is something that Bruce addressed in his article “Credibility of the Web: Why we need Dialectical Reading,” he mentioned that it is important to weed out the vast amount of unimportant information and how difficult it can be for an Internet user.
      • All appeared very knowledgeable about Internet searching.
  • 14. Recall Predictions
    • Adults will be more drawn to websites that are government or educational related ( .gov or .edu.)
    • I found this to be overall true. Over half of the websites used on this survey were in fact government or educationally related.
    • 2) Adults will be highly motivated to finish this survey as soon as possible.
    • This was especially true while I was observing them. Also 3 of the 4 participants who participated through e-mail had the survey done in less than 24 hours.
    • 3) Adults will pay more attention to credibility of a website.
    • Yes and no. They somewhat paid attention to credibility, but they were also drawn to more visual sites as seen in the following slides.
  • 15. Credibility
    • The final question that was asked on the survey involved looking at two different websites and deciding which one was more credible.
    • The first site , was a site that was “designed by Larry.” There were no credentials or sources found on this site. I know that several of his visual aids were taken off of the United States Geological Website, but he did not site his sources.
      • - Four of the seven people I surveyed choose this site over the other. Some comments that they said were:
        • “ More Pictures”
        • “ Seems to be more information on this site”
        • “ Very Visual”
        • “ More interactive”
  • 16. Credibility Cont.
    • The second site
    • , was a more credible website. This site is hosted by the United States Geological Society making it a very credible site. It also has a contact address if the user has any questions. It did, however, only have one map where the other site had several.
      • Two of the seven users chose this site. They were quoted by saying:
        • “ Very credible site because it is connected to the government”
        • “ Easier to understand”
    Note: I found these results rather interesting. I really thought that adults would choose the second website because it is a government issued site. Looking at the reasons that were given, those would also be the reason a student would pick that website as well. People tend to choose websites that are full of pictures and animations instead of those which have more information than visual aids.
  • 17. Some thoughts…
    • Adults have become pretty self-sufficient on completing Internet searches. Due to some of the following factors:
      • With the help of other adults, their kids, or other friends they can often get the information that they need (Check out these stories of students teaching their parents how to use the computer)
      • “ How To” websites/books ( Microsoft has a pretty good site) have helped adults become very proficient at the Internet. Learn the Net is an example of an Internet manual available to users to help understand the Internet.
      • They even offer classes in Computer Literacy .
  • 18. In a Classroom
    • If I was to do this inquiry in a classroom I would simplify the search to- “The Most Active Volcano in the United States.” There really wasn’t a completely clear answer to the ten most active volcanoes because it is continually changing. There is a clear answer to the most active volcano in the United States. This would help limit the search and make it easier for my students to find the answer.
    • It would be very interesting to see how students would do in this search. I would definitely have to do quite a few lessons on how to search the web with third grade students. I also think it would be easier to use students because they need to do the project to help them learn this concept. Where my adult volunteers just did the project out of the kindness of their hearts (Unfortunately I wish I had more).
    • Also I would make sure to address the idea of plagiarism with my students as brought forth in both the Michael Bugeja and Michael Freedman article. It is definitely important to start this early in a students educational career.
  • 19. Sources
    • Bruce, Bertram. "Credibility of the Web: Why We Need Dialectical Reading." Journal of Philosophy of Education Feb 2001: 97-109.
    • Bugeja, Michael. "Don't Let Students Overlook Plagarism." Education Digest Oct 2004: 37-43.
    • &quot;Click and Tell Winners.&quot; Microsoft Home Magazine 2007 23 Sep 2007 <>.
    • Collins, Valerie. &quot;Introduction to Computers.&quot; Adult Learning Center . 1998. 23 Sep 2007 <>.
    • Freedman, Michael. &quot;A Tale of Plagiarism and a New Paradigm.&quot; Phi Delta Kappan Mar 2004
    • Learner, Michael. &quot;The Internet Owner's Manual.&quot; Learn the 1996-2007 20 Sep 2007 <>.
    • Son of the Citation Machine
    • State of Michigan Educational Technology Standards
    • &quot;Using Internet Explorer.&quot; Windows Internet Explorer . 2007. Microsoft. 23 Sep 2007 <>.