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What is the Internet?

Promises and Pitfalls of Internet Research

Putting Internet Research into Perspective

Tips & Suggestions for Students

Teaching Ideas & Suggestions

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Authors & Contributors

Stage 2

Internet research can be seen as an opportunity to help our students develop better critical thinking abilities. In an article in the journal Learning and Leading with Technology, Judi Harris claims that the abundance of irrelevant information on the Internet offers a chance to "recognize the importance of developing and using higher order information-processing skills" (59). She reminds us that information is not the same thing as knowledge, yet many people assume that if we give students information, they are learning. Instead, she claims, learners use information to construct knowledge, and we need to teach them how to do that. Internet research provides both the need and the opportunity, since students need to "learn not only how to access information, but, more importantly, also how to manage, analyze, critique, cross-reference, and transform it into usable knowledge" (58). And many others agree that teaching Internet research can foster critical thinking skills. Anstendig and Meyers claim that "the critical habits of mind generated [from Web research] will transfer from the new world of the Web to the students' regular tasks of reading print and pursuing library research" (8). McKenzie argues it can help students "to make their own meanings in an often confusing, rapidly changing world" (32), and Davis observed that the diverse viewpoints his students encountered on the newsgroups forced them to consider their own and others' biases and beliefs. M.D. Roblyer, from Florida A&M University, believes that students "learn information-handling and analysis skills that will help them learn better in all their courses" (4). And Gary R. Cobine from Indiana University-East argues that "as researchers, [students] become analysts, not consumers, of information. They analyze information relevant to their studies and pursuits. . .Thus they discover not just information, but knowledge" (1).