Education Eye: Researching holiday homework using Google

Catherine Stoker
Catherine Stoker
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With the Christmas holidays here it may be that your children have been set holiday homework which involves research for a project.

My parents have just recycled the Encyclopaedia Britannica that we used during childhood for these tasks, in conjunction with trips to the local library reference section to read a range of books.

The internet has largely replaced the need for this with copious information at a child’s finger tips.

However, how to 21st Century parents ensure their child is forming balanced opinions through broad research of a topic and not just regurgitating page one of Google?

Google a topic such as The First World War and you will see what I mean.

Wikipedia summarises topics well but be aware that articles could be written by anyone so facts could be unreliable or hugely subjective.

Select the right key words in order to come up with a variety of reliable sources in the search results.

Search results are global so checking the credibility of information sources is important.

This can be done by understanding the background, expertise and culture of the person who has written a piece.

The ability to copy and paste makes plagiarism far easier but schools and most importantly examination boards are very wary and on the look-out for this. Encourage independent writing after having read around a subject.

This can easily be checked by discussing what your child has written to see if they understand the content and can explain why they have formed their opinion, demonstrating objectivity, through researching several sources.

All quoted opinions should be referenced.

Beware of Google translate. It often creates sentences that are grammatically incorrect so will stand out immediately.