Thursday, May 18, 2017

Week 10: Working with Research and Presentation Tools

Hello again, everyone!
This is Week 10 of CALL's Technology in Education's on-line discoveries. See here for my introduction to CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). This week's topic is Research and Presentation Tools.
The first site I examined was NoodleTools. The page was down so I followed my instructor's advice and link to the cached site. The home page is organized by categories with titles in very "human" language "I need to define my topic…", "I need to find quality results…", "I need opinions and perspectives..." etc. The subtopics are similarly phrased and one would have to ask an actual librarian in order to find more specific advice.
 My son could have received a controversial vaccine today so out of curiosity I chose "I need reputable health information" and then "Kidhealth", which has a Spanish-language site too. Out of the options given, "Parents", "Kids", "Teens", "Educators" I chose the first. "How Do I Know Which Vaccines My Kids Need? Find out what the experts have to say.." was a home page article when I entered the page so I thought that I had come to the right place. Unfortunately the article was a bit old, 2014 (of course I was looking at a cached site), and very short, not at all informative.
The articles in "School and Family Life" were short and gave basic information.
Then I chose "Educators" to see if that section was useful for teachers. I did find a good children's dictionary of parts of the body/medical terms.
I then examined "I want multiple perspectives on hot social and political topics" to test the extent of variation of the opinions presented by the search engine. I first chose "Social Issues" and within that "Opposing Viewpoints in Context".  And I was sent back to a previous page. I have a feeling that it is more difficult to extract useful information from the cached version of this site than from the actual site.
I decided to choose one last topic and settled on "Governments". I searched "Basque" . My search yielded nothing. However the Basques do not have their own government so I tried Spain. Still nothing. Either my search methods are faulty or the cached status of the site is the reason for my failure to find anything useful in this section. I will check later. (The deadline for posting this blog is looming menacingly over my head. And in fact I missed it by about half an hour...)
Even though these searches were not particularly useful, there are so many options on the NoodleTools site that I will not hesitate to try it again. Other sites linked to the site could yield better results.
I then looked at the Simple English Wikipedia site. For a project for another class I searched "Jerusalem Western Wall", and then compared the information with the standard Wikipedia site. For further comparison with standard Wikipedia I searched "cat", a subject which can be treated very simply, on both sites. The simple site is indeed much easier to read, but also, understandably has a much smaller range of information on the topic. The regular site could easily be overwhelming for beginning readers, rendering the simpler site a welcome aid in research. 
And to see how the site treats a controversial subject I searched "Basque".
"Its boundaries are complicated. " was all the controversy I found. Not surprisingly the main site for "Basque" goes into much more detail.
After perusing those sites that were new to me, I went to Google Scholar, which I have used many times. I have noticed that Google is kind enough to send users there when the search keys are sufficiently scholarly. This time I went specifically to the pages which advise users about how to use the site, which I had never done before. There is a nice overview here too. I will bookmark this valuable resource for students.
Have a wonderful week of inspiring discoveries,

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