The following online resources are great for completing research collaboratively without having to physically meet. Of course, it’s necessary to have some discussion so that you know what each group member is doing, but it’s possible even to do that online. Research has become considerably easier for students, but they still need to be taught what tools are available to them and how they can be used effectively. After reviewing numerous tools, I have come to the conclusion that these are the most generally useful for high school student research and group collaboration.
Sweet Search – A search engine for students where every site has been evaluated by their research experts. My students also use EBSCO since our school subscribes to some of it’s online databases. If you don’t have access to such resources, check your city library’s online resources that are usually accessible with a library card identification number.
Diigo – A bookmarking tool that you can download to use in your web browser. (Unfortunately, it’s not available at school since it’s an add-on that is not on our system.) Every time you find a site that’s useful, bookmark it with Diigo and tag it with the name of your class assignment. There is also a highlighting tool and a notation tool, meaning you can add notions to a web page and they will always be there when you go back to it (when using your computer and web browser).
Awesome Highlighter – Lets you highlight a web page, like you would highlight a printed source when you are researching. Then you are given a new URL that you can bookmark (or copy and paste into your running bibliography). Go back to the new URL at any time during your research and your highlights will still be there. Share the highlighted page with your group members. [Note: This tool is unnecessary if you have Diigo.]
Live Binders – Create a live binder of all the websites that are relevant sources for your project. [Note: This tool is unnecessary if you have Diigo.]
Google Tools: Documents, Calendar & Tasks – Collaborate on a document, spreadsheet, or presentation online, even at the same time! You will see the live edits as you are working. Add notations/comments if needed. Add relavant, important dates to the calendar for the group project. These tools have sharing settings so that it can be set up for all group members to either just view, have editing privileges, or to also have managing privileges. Finally, create a list of tasks that must be completed in the sidebar next to the calendar. I don’t think that your ‘tasks’ can be shared with others. (I think that Google Calendar is the BEST online calendar for android phones.) If you already have a Google account, i.e. GMail, use the same username and password to sign up.
Today’s Meet – Create a private chat room online, give your group member the link, and have a ‘back channel’ discussion from home about your group project. You will have to arrange in advance when you will have your meeting. (write.fm – Same idea as Today’s Meet, but you are automatically given a new URL with a blank page. Have a discussion or collaborate on a document, like in Google Docs.)
Screenr – Create a screen cast of what you are viewing on your computer monitor in real time and recording audio. Instead of creating a written explanation, verbally explain how or why you think a particular source is useful or how it could be used in the group assignment. Save the Screenr as “anyone who has the link can view” and send it to your group members to view.
Online Convert – Use this tool to convert the file you have into the file format that is needed.
Son of Citation Machine – When creating a bibliographical entry, use this site to create your MLA entry. Choose the type of source, input all the information that’s available to you, and generate the entry. Copy and paste the entry into your Bibliography.
Choosing the most relevant information will be covered in the next entry – Research Article #4.