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BS in Elementary Education Course Insight: Tips for Teaching Students How to Conduct Online Research

Study alongside students in Walden University’s BS in Elementary Education program with this required reading taken from the online course Integrating Content and Technology to Enhance Learning.

The internet of things gives us access to boundless knowledge and information. In most cases, that’s a good thing—especially for students who are looking to conduct research for an assignment or project. However, understanding how to navigate this research on the web is equally as important as its accessibility. Walden University’s online BS in Elementary Education (Teacher Licensure) degree program provides that insight in its course Integrating Content and Technology to Enhance Learning. In this course, teacher candidates explore how to integrate content and technology into the classroom that supports the developmental and curricular goals for elementary education students. Below is an excerpt from one of the reading assignments for this course—“Information-Literacy Primer: Learning to Research on the Web,” by educational technologist Kathy Schrock.1


The Searching Process
If library media specialists were taking care of the organization of web information, it would all be cataloged using a thesaurus of terms and would be as easy to use as your local library card catalog. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Searching for information on the web differs from search tool to search tool. Students should be directed to first read the help files in the search engine or directory they choose to use. The help files include instructions for the creation of the queries, as well as provide helpful tips and tricks for use of that particular search tool. One tip to point out to them is the use of the advanced search page of any online tool, which allows students to narrow their search by eliminating words not needed, by date, or by type of information.

The Evaluation Process
One information literacy skill that has become more integral to the research process, due to the amount of information found on the web, is the skill of critical evaluation of information. Information can be published by anyone on the web, without any editorial or expert review. The ease of use of web page creation tools also can make information "look" very credible, when in fact it is totally untrue.

Five questions students might want to ask themselves when reviewing information found on the web:

  • Who wrote the pages and are they an expert in the field?
  • What does the author say is the purpose of the site?
  • When was the site created, updated, or last worked on?
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Why is the information useful?

Critical evaluation of information can only be done properly once the student has a knowledge base in the topic. This is still best obtained through traditional print reference materials. Until the student knows a little bit about the topic, it is difficult for them to evaluate whether the online information they find is credible or valid. Another fun exercise to allow students to easily see there is incorrect information on the web is to allow them to view pages dealing with topics in which they do have a knowledge base, such as sports, music, Pokemon, movies, cars, video games, etc. It will not be long until they find some posted information that is incorrect, and they will soon realize that all information on the web cannot be taken at face value.

The Citation Process
Bibliographic citations are more important than ever for web-based information. First, they allow students to easily revisit a resource they find to support their research. Secondly, citations allow educators to verify, in fact, the information handed in was not simply cut and pasted from a website. The Napster controversy has brought the concept of the respect for intellectual property to the forefront, and students should be knowledgeable about the need to respect intellectual property rights. Students should learn to ask permission to use other's information in a presentation or paper, as well as completing the correct citation format for electronic information used.

A Final Word
Information literacy skills have not changed with the advent of the information explosion, but have become a set of skills important for all students to master. With information growing exponentially, the need to be able to state what information one needs, search and evaluate the information found, and assemble a bibliography of sources used will become as important a life skill as balancing a checkbook or filling out a tax form!

Gain the Skills You Need to Advance Your Teaching Strategies and Career at Walden University

Walden, an accredited university, offers online teaching degree and certificate programs that make it more convenient than ever to gain the experience and knowledge you need to start and excel in your career. Whether you’re just beginning the process to become a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or want to learn more about trending topics in the education field, Walden’s BS in Elementary Education (Teacher Licensure) program has everything you need to get started. The program is offered on a convenient online platform, allowing you to earn your bachelor’s in elementary education from wherever you have internet access. Earn your teaching degree online to begin a rewarding career shaping children’s lives while you continue to work full time.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a suite of education programs online, including a BS in Elementary Education (Teacher Licensure) program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Note on Licensure
Walden is approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching to offer a program leading to initial licensure in elementary education. Candidates must pass the required Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exams (MTLEs) before Walden can recommend candidates to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) for the license. Candidates are responsible for completing any other Minnesota requirements beyond Walden’s state-approved program, and MDE is solely responsible for reviewing applications and issuing licenses. Individuals interested in elementary education licensure in states other than Minnesota may qualify by virtue of completing a state-approved teacher preparation program; however, individuals must review their state’s regulations to ensure the program meets all requirements, paying particular attention to any requirements specific to out-of-state program completers. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide guidance on licensure issues; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand and comply with all state licensure requirements. Walden makes no representation or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain state licensure or endorsement.

Prospective Kentucky and North Carolina students: This program does not qualify for teacher state licensure in Kentucky or North Carolina. Students who are interested in receiving teaching licensure in these states should not enroll in this program.

Prospective Alabama students: State authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other P–12 school/system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate. Applicants who complete an educator preparation program at a non-Alabama institution must apply for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate through the Alabama Certificate Reciprocity Approach. Current requirements may be found at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,