Online Research Strategies: Learning Matters

It’s gratification time now; I’ve introduced the more onerous aspects of digital survival now we get to have some fun. Using the Internet to learn is a foundation of our approach to education at Chaos To Clarity—it makes nothing but sense to take advantage of what the digital world can offer in your daily life.

Doing research on the Internet is an essential life skill so you can learn, save money, and save time with your computer and the Internet. Using your computer and the Internet to make your life better in tangible ways every day is very important to me, and you I hope, so we will spend a few posts on the topic.

Every day I talk to people who don’t take advantage of the Internet. And when I do, it seems that many of them would change their old habits if they had a chance to try something new, it was relatively painless, and most of all IT WORKED. No more looking for the phone book and wondering how to find a specific business in the Yellow Pages, no more pouring over maps, and cranking up the old VCR to keep up with TV shows, what a relief.

In my last several blogs, I focused on digital survival strategies for everyone. If you were with me, you’ll understand more about the areas of knowledge essential for digital survival, great. If not, they are:

You need knowledge in all of these areas if you are going to learn computers, use the Internet to accomplish your goals, update your computer skills, and educate yourself. You will also need an overall learning strategy so that you can use your time and energy effectively as you increase your Success in a Digital World™ and simplify your digital life.

Using the Internet for self-education is one of the most exciting things about living in a digital world as far as I’m concerned. Media gatekeepers are less important, you can find information about most anything, and you can discover many points of view on any given topic.

Of course, all sources are not created equal and anyone can post anything on the Web, so you have to use some common sense and learn how to evaluate the information you find. Georgetown University, where I used to teach, has a helpful write up and quiz questions, or you can try the Library of Congress for additional resources to help you learn to evaluate sources.

If you have a hobby or a passion, its time to get connected to all the Web has to offer.

You can learn about the basics of effective web search on about.com and Wikipedia.com.

Use Noodle Tools see which engine is a good fitfor you task.

There are several types of sources that can help you out:

For general information try online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

For communities of interest you can search Google Groups where, incidentally, a Microsoft tech support person found the answer to my problem after nothing came up in his database…

You can find blogs on just about any topic that interests you at Blogsearch or the ever-popular Google blog search.

Websites of organizations you belong to or follow often have listservs and rss feeds, look on their homepages for sign-up information and subscribe.

Social networking sites are also great places to find like-minded communities and ask questions. Try Linked In to keep in touch with professionals, Facebook to find other adults with similar interests and keep up with your friends and professional contacts. MySpace is great fun for pop culture addicts and the younger crew. Twitter will keep you in touch with the digerati and keep you from having to write lengthy posts too.

Professionally maintained informational sites like WebMD or the Humane Society provide authoritative information you can trust.

The deep web can also hold useful information. The UC Berkley Library points out that a deep web search can turn up more pages on sites that exist in databases and don’t’ show up in a typical search. DeepDyve is a new free deep web search engine worth a look.

More scholarly/academic resources are accessible than ever before on the web and many are completely or partially free and you can find a list at Wikipedia. Don’t forget to try Google Scholar too, it’s a very useful way to search authoritative data.

So off you go, have a look around and next time we will talk search strategies, saving time, and saving money.