Poking through my feed reader this weekend, I stumbled on this GREAT bit on the Mindshift blog featuring the thinking of Howard Rheingold — a leader in defining the kinds of changing skills needed in order to learn efficiently in today’s digital world.

Rheingold makes a simple point early in the Mindshift article that really resonated with me:  Kids NEED to learn to carefully tame their attention span while they are searching the web. 

He writes:

You need to make decisions. ‘Am I going to click on that link? Am I going to maybe open a tab for it on my browser and look at it later? Am I going to bookmark it to look at it much later or am I going to ignore it?’

You need to make those decisions consciously and I think most of us make them unconsciously… We wouldn’t have so many cute cat videos if people didn’t click on impulse.”

Stew in that for a minute, will you?  And then ask yourself whether or not you’ve ever taught your classes to be THAT intentional about the sites that they are clicking on when they are researching.

I know that I haven’t spent any time encouraging my kids to think systematically about what they are clicking on when we are researching — and I’m a guy who really DOES spend a good chunk of time teaching kids how to sift through information efficiently.

So I whipped up a handout based on Rheingold’s suggestions that I think I’m going to ask kids to use the first few times that we do online research. 

Check it out here:

Download Handout_WhatWillYouClickNext

It’s pretty detailed — which means it will also be pretty time consuming for kids to use — so I’m not likely to require that they actually write down every answer to every question every time that we go to the lab.

But I AM going to continuously remind my students that they should be clicking with a purpose — and that clicking with a purpose requires that they think carefully before, during and after sitting down at a computer to research.

Any of this make sense?

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