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Internet Research

Spoiler alert: Wikipedia is not a legit research site.

If the idea of citing Wikipedia or Yahoo Answers doesn't make you cringe in horror, then this is the course for you. If "what did alexander the great do that was so great" sounds like a great search phrase, then this is the course for you. If "tiger AND physiology -Woods" is gibberish, then, yeah, this is the course for you. 

This course is designed to give you all the tools you need to go from internet research newbie to total web guru and crush that "research" part of your research paper. 

You'll learn to:

  • use Google's extra fancy features to find exactly the information you're looking for
  • evaluate the academic legitimacy of online sources
  • cite internet sources without simply slapping down some URLs on paper
  • organize your online research more meticulously than a squirrel stores his nuts

By the end of these four lessons, you'll be ready to take on that big, bad research paper with confidence.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Internet Research for the Academic World

This course is the ultimate crash course to doing internet research for a school project or research paper. Topics include: How to find legit research sources on the internet, how to evaluate those sources, how to cite online stuff, and how to keep track of and organize online research.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 1: Finding Sources Online

The year is 1990. The world's first search engine has just been born. It's a tiny program named Archie, which literally searched through the internet's files manually, because that's how tiny the internet was. To use it, you had to be in the computer lab of McGill University, familiar with computer code, and have pretty much nowhere else to be. A snuggie and a gallon of hot chocolate was also recommended.

So how would you research a paper for school in 1990? Or self-diagnose yourself with ulcers and/or stomach cancer using WebMD? Or figure out how often elephants sleep. It turns out you would have gone to an actual, physical library, used the Dewey decimal system to find your topic or looked through the card catalog (which was basically like Indiana Jones decoding a treasure map, without the swagger factor), and then gathered up a bunch of books and sat down and read them, possibly using this ridiculous feature used in real books called an "index." It wasn't easy.

Today, of course, we've got things like Google, the Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg, a gazillion different academic search engines, and library databases. All these tools have definitely made research far more efficient, but it's a dangerous mistake to imagine that they make research easier. The internet is a vast sea of information, 80% of which is polluted, with 40 foot monster fish coming after you while a monster storm tries to dump you into the sea. It's larger than any single library has ever been, and finding the information you're looking for is a serious challenge. Anyone can post anything on the interwebs, and if you don't know what's legit or not, you might just believe the guy who's trying to convince you that the moon walk was faked or that sugar will mutate your cells and turn you into an orangutan.

In this lesson, we're going to talk about the digital equivalent of the card catalog: search engines.

  • Course Length: 1 week
  • Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, College
  • Course Type: Short Course
  • Category:
    • College Prep
    • History and Social Science
    • Life Skills
    • Technology and Computer Science
    • Middle School
    • High School

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