Computer research requires discretion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2001

Who can deny the importance of computers in classrooms and in homes? Technology zooms ahead of teachers and parents, as young students hungrily yearn for the next wave of information possibilities. A news report this week indicated that in some classrooms, students are instructing their teachers in how to operate certain computer programs, and that is not difficult to imagine.

The questions raised by the proliferation of computers are many and complex, particularly when it comes to school work. Education and political leaders tout advantages students have who are in schools where computers are available to all. Last week U.S.

Rep. Ronnie Shows, who represents Mississippi’s 4th District, presented computers to a school in the district.

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Shows has made a point of promoting computers as important teaching and learning tools. His points are well made.

Still, teachers and parents should be alert to an issue that has come to the forefront recently but not for the first time – that is, improper research methods using the Internet.

The Internet truly is a wide world of information. Who among us has not sought an obscure fact by inserting a word or two in the search block and waiting to see the magical appearance of a tantalizing directory of information sites?

Students today must learn computer skills, including Internet research skills. Along with those skills, however, they deserve careful instruction in how to use Internet materials legally and ethically. What’s more, they deserve aid in developing old-time research and note-taking skills to hone their cognitive skills and broaden their curiosity. Technology, yes indeed. Good research practices, a must.