Friday, May 9, 2008

Whole Brain, Open Mind: Co-Constructing Through Digital Reference for Today's Students

Dr. Lesley Farmer, California State University

Teens' Information-Seeking Behavior

  • ask someone
  • go to the net (unaware of online databases)
  • build on past experiences/success
  • unsophisticated use of search strategies (keywords evade them,; forget Boolean)
  • look at end - not at means or context
  • not deeply critical
  • not persistent; easily confused
  • different sense of time

Choosing Web Sites According to Teens

  • layout makes a difference
  • typeface should be readable
  • minimize the number of clicks to get to the info
    content is more important than fancy looks
  • pictures are good
  • interactivity is valued

YA Internet Truisms

  • Wikipedia is king
  • Google is awesome
  • Want news? Go online
  • Social networking is good for homework
  • IM>email / Email is so yesterday - it's for old people and teachers
  • If it's not on the front page, it probably isn't worthwhile anyway
  • "Good enough" is good enough
  • Free is good
  • Downloading is OK as long as you're not selling it
  • I get scared sometimes, but I can take care of myself

What is Reference Service to a Teen?

  • A last resort
  • A safety net
  • Linked to schoolwork
  • Resource based
  • Fact based
  • Unfriendly

What Teens Want

  • Friendly atmosphere, be it face-to-face or online
  • Close collaboration between classroom teacher and librarian
  • Guidance
  • Selected web sites
  • Make it easy and convenient "Just the facts..." (tips sheets, "cheat sheets")

Co-constructing with Teen Brains

  • Make them aware of their brains and how they work
  • Have teens research brains (
  • Channel risk-taking behaviors into intellectual efforts
    Encourage thinking breaks when stressed

Using the Whole New Mind

  • Check out teens’ reading, including online, for content AND FORM
  • Check out online cartoons & anime/manga
  • Play games, including with teens
  • Translate gaming into info lit terms
  • Cross the left brain/right brain lines

Start Where Teens Are

  • Go for convenience
  • Keep it simple
  • Emphasize “Work better, not harder”
  • Provide Internet “cheat sheets”
  • BE their cheat sheet
  • Incorporate interactivity into library info web sites
  • Really do teach web evaluation skills
  • Get teen input about good web sites
  • Encourage students to revise their search strategies

Practice Reflective Learning: I-Search Projects

  • Document all work
  • Question and reflect ALL along the way
  • Have benchmarks
  • Be willing to backtrack/redirect efforts
  • Go beyond the first resource/site
  • Share good resources and processes

Final Thoughts

  • Get to know them and their world
  • Show you care – and can be trusted
  • Be respectful
  • Be responsive
  • Be sensitive
  • Avoid making assumptions
  • Use language they understand, avoid jargon
  • Know the curriculum and/or assignments
  • Don’t do their Work
  • Act as a coach or partner rather than a sage
  • Take advantage of learning moments

Posted by Kathy Lowe

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