Searching … and Researching + Quick Tip # 3 (Using Wikis)

First off, if this is your first exposure to any type of advice about writing academic papers, I want to assure you that while it’s a lot of work to put together a well-cited scholarly work – there are many tools available to you to make it a whole lot easier, such as Purdue Writing Lab and Dartmouth Institute’s websites. However – the most important thing to remember when writing an academic or reasearch paper is to make sure the information your utilizing is credible. To make this task simplier, divide your expectations on a source into three categories: reliability (of the author, publisher and reviewers), the quality of the information, and the information utility (knowing how exactly your going to utilize this information in the context of your own writing).

Searching means finding something, but researching means determined the quality of that something. Like I mentioned earlier – this task can sometimes be daunting, particularly if your trying to hurry through a paper. However, there are many tools and strategies to make this task less burdensome throughout your research:

– choosing to use a  category search ( versus a keyword search (google) when appropriate.

– knowing how to manipulate search queries with Boolean logic (OR, AND, using quotes)

–  using scholarly search engines to sift through the filth of the internet

– organizing the chaos of many-item bibliographies with sites like. . .





Quick Tip # 3: Using Wikis

Wiki’s can be a great source of information – but they can never be your final source. Instead, use a wiki as a lead to other depots of information that you can cite reliably and do further research on. For the professionals, starting at a source that’s unreliable may seem like a junior-league tactic, but you never know what kind of gold you’ll find if you just do a little creative, structured digging.


Note Taking and Online Learning

In order to get the most out of your notes, you need to refine your techniques: that high school style of recording everything you hear (or maybe you were one of the ones that didn’t take notes at all :p) won’t cut it anymore. Firstly, educate yourself on some different note taking approaches. These include how to use a presentation that you have access to prior the lecture, how to take notes when access to the presentation isn’t happening and how to use pre-defined templates to help better organize your notes as you take them, such as the Cornell Note Taking system.

Also included in this module is how to take notes on new types of educational materials outside the classroom like online video and/or audio. Knowing the difference between standard lectures and audio/video effective listening and learning makes a huge difference in how useful your notes will actually be to you later on. Part of this difference is realizing how much more information audio/video information is throwing at you at once. One remedy to this abundance of information is to use different note-taking technologies such as mind-maps, One Note or Inspiration.

The final important thing to grasp out of this week’s module was how to effectively use the internet to supplement your learning in the classroom on a topic. Great learners don’t stop learning in the classroom; they pursue answers to unanswered questions outside of the classroom. Podcasts and online videos can be a great way gain further insight on difficult, complicated or just multi-layered topics that need more time to full comprehend and which can be more fully understood from multiple angles or perspectives.

Different learning methods: a video example

This video (below) first gives an overview of why guitar strings are so integral to how a guitar sounds as a final product. It then tells of several different ways in which the quality of the strings are tested before being used in a guitar, such as the “twist test” and the “tension” test, which measure strength and elasticity respectively. After these tests, the core wire needs to be spun around a ball-end  and then covered in it’s exterior bronze wire finish. Finally, the video briefly explains the difference between bronze and nylon based guitar string construction.

The most important way the video supplements my learning of this topic is by providing visual aids. Not only is the process of making guitar strings long, but it also involves a lot of vocabulary that normal folk wouldn’t be familiar with. With the timely video clips and the narration that goes with them, I don’ have to look up every single word I don’t know because I can link these unknowns to the video. Another way the video enhances this topic is by presenting this sequential construction in a way that makes sense, is easy to remember and is interesting because the narration and selected video footage flow so seamlessly from one stage to another.





Releasing your inner reading potential and Quick Tip #2 (Effective Studying)

If you’re a student and you’ve at least made it through your high school education, you probably think you know how to read and study by now. But are you doing it in the most time-effective and purposeful manner?

One issue many people have is lack of preparation for a reading. To retain the most knowledge while reading, you need to put yourself in the right mindset before beginning. First, remove all distractions from your environment. Next, realize how the reading your doing actually fits into the material your currently learning; this will help to create connections to past materials while you read, which in result will boost your retention rate. Finally, identify the type of reading you’re doing and realize it’s strengths and weaknesses. For instance, traditional reading (as opposed to online) poses the benefit of almost always being reliable by virtue of being published, but limits how you can learn the material to a very linear path. On the other hand, online reading allows you to learn on your own non-sequential path in order to make immediate connections between the reading and other sources that can further supplement the material.

During and after the reading, focus on identifying and jotting down main ideas, and your comments/reactions to these ideas. This will help you later to recall main ideas and chapters without having to dive into the reading entirely again.

Quick Tip (#2) Effective Studying

Being an active learner meanings getting creative with how you process and organize ideas. One way to be an active learner is to create your own study tools: the act of making something helps you to learn it more effectively by allowing you to demonstrate your own relations among learned concepts. Here are some cool tools you can utilize in aiding your studies:

1) Infographics

2) Timelines

3) Mind Maps

4) Presentations

5) Animations