Difference between revisions of "Unit 3: Analyzing Digital Media Sources"

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Mini-course home [https://knilt.arcc.albany.edu/Teaching_Critical_Literacy_and_Effective_Research_Skills]
Mini-course home [https://knilt.arcc.albany.edu/Teaching_Critical_Literacy_and_Effective_Research_Skills]
For further study here are some links on research:
For further study here are additional links on research:

Revision as of 00:48, 7 December 2020


As sources of information have moved from books to the world-wide-web, many new kinds of sources are available in digital format. Understanding how to read, analyze and make connections between these sources is essential to developing understanding of topics during research, but this requires a set of skills called Digital Media Literacy (DLM).


Botturi, L. (2019) describes digital media literacy according to two different views. "The first root is the tradition of Media Education (ME), which defined media literacy as the ability of a citizen to access, analyze, and produce information for specific outcomes. This definition emphasizes its critical nature, and puts forward the skills required to access messages, critically understand them, and to actively use a variety of instruments and formats for generating original messages. Critical understanding in this domain means learning about (a) the audiovisual languages that the different media use; (b) how media represent realities and the relationship between fact and fiction in the media; (c) the production processes of media messages (d) the relationship between the media and audiences While these ideas can be traced back to Len Mastermann’s seminal work Teaching the Media (1985), many later authors built on that basis in the following decades. Nonetheless, questions remain about how far, and in what ways, media education needs to be adapted or extended to tackle the challenges of the contemporary digital media environment.

The second strand that contributed to the development of the contemporary idea of DML has to do with technologies. In the early 90s with the diffusion of the web, and then at the turn of the century with the spread of social media and mobile devices, the technology landscape began a still-ongoing transformation. This raised many issues in terms of employment opportunities and democratic participation, so that states put digital skills high on their agendas, and promoted programs to support the development of functional skills, like the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) . Further developments in this domain came to define digital competences frameworks, like the European DigComp or JISC. Digital literacy education is supported by ad hoc educational environments and tools for coding (e.g. Scratch1 or AppInventor2) and educational robotics (e.g. Thymio3). The recent emergence of the concept of computational thinking (Wing, 2006), which originated in the area of technical sciences and engineering, echoes the stance for critical understanding proper of media education. Computational thinking is “thinking (...) about how humans solve problems in a way that can be operationalized with and on computers, and expresses the need to move from a functional to a broad cultural approach in digital literacy education, underlining the importance of understanding digital technologies in order to use them effectively, safely and in an active citizenship perspective."

These two views on DML both involve developing skills that help process and analyze digital media. This will be necessary when completing research as there are so many sources on the internet, it can sometimes be difficult to know what it real and what is just trying to catch your interest, but offers no real educational value.


Let's start by taking a look at what Digital Media Literacy is and how it will a play a role in the lives of students.

Research involves sifting through not only written articles, but also videos, audio files, pictures and other digital media. This can become overwhelming if you have not developed an understanding of what digital media is, and how it can be searched for effectively and used for research assignments. In this video, the Professor describes digital media literacy through the lens of job related skills. He has an interesting view on digital literacy but explains why we need to learn how to navigate the digital world in order to succeed in school and life after school.


Now you have an understanding of what digital media literacy is and why it is important, let's take a look at some ways that teachers can build these skills.

In the following article, Kathleen Morris breaks down research into 5 categories:

  1. Clarify
  2. Search
  3. Delve
  4. Evaluate
  5. Cite

First think about these 5 categories and make a list or describe how you think digital media literacy factors into each category. Try to think outside the box and keep in mind that you may think of brand new technology and media that wasn't available when this article was written. Technology advances so fast, and education has to try and keep up with these advances, but if teachers can stay apprised of new technology and skills they can better prepare themselves and their students for the challenges of researching in the 21st century.

Click this link to a page by Kathleen Morris. Here she describes 50 different strategies for incorporating digital media literacy skills into the classroom: [1]



What information are you looking for? Consider keywords, questions, synonyms, alternative phrases etc.

Each of these plays a role in research, and each require digital literacy skills to complete, except for possibly "clarify". Clarification can be done by asking as many questions as possible and then narrowing down your ideas to one main idea to focus your searches on. Technology can assist with this process now because of the creation of automated assistants. If you ask an Amazon Echo or a Google device to describe a topic, you may hear other information that can lead to other avenues of research. For example, if your ask an Amazon Echo to tell you about whales, you may discover that whales are the most closely related relatives to the hippopotamus. These details can alter the path of your research as you ask more questions. It's an interesting and fun way to get ideas and help you to clarify what your main topic will be for research.


What are the best words you can type into the search engine to get the highest quality results?

When conducting research the easiest way to find sources is to go online and search in a search engine like Google or Bing. This seems like an easy task, but the results that come up first are not always the best sources and it takes some digging around to find valid scholarly articles. The following video explains how Google searches work and why the user ends up with the results they do.

Video: How Internet Searches Work [2]

  • Are there ways to search the internet anonymously so that your search results are unbiased, and not tailored to your interests?

To continue learning more about searching head to this page and work through items 8 - 18. [3]

You can continue working through these activities until you feel confident. When you feel you have a good grasp on how searching the internet works move on to the next section.


What search results should you click on and explore further?

This step is similar to searching, except here you will explore in more depth the topics you searched for. You will not delve for every single topic you searched for, as clarifying and searching were meant to narrow you research topic and point you towards valid sources. Delving helps the user pick particular search results based on what you now know about valid sources. You should look for certain domain names like .gov or .edu, which represent official government or education sites. It is also a good idea to learn how to spot advertisements. Some articles may look like scientific articles and may even start off with an abstract and summary to make them look legit, but as you read through you find that it is really trying to sell you a product related to your research. This trap can be avoided by looking at where you obtain your sources. If you search through your schools library or through a site like Google Scholar, it is possible to filter your results so that only peer-reviewed articles come up when you search.

To continue learning more about delving head to this page and work through items 19 - 26. Pay special attention to number 26 "Anatomy of a Search Result". People search constantly but do you ever stop to look at what comes up, and why certain information appears with certain searches. [4]

You can continue working through these activities until you feel confident. When you feel you have a good grasp on how delving works move on to the next section.


Once you click on a link and land on a site, how do you know if it offers the information you need?

Evaluating your sources will help you:

  • Determine the credibility of information
  • Rule out questionable information
  • Check for bias in your sources

After you have come up with a research idea and completed some in depth searching for sources, you now have to look at those sources and evaluate them. The steps shown below, were developed to help gauge the validity of an article and its effectiveness as a source for your research. These steps can also be done for video and audio sources, but most often written sources are used for research. Don't be afraid to include videos and audio sources as they can convey information in a different manner that may make them more accessible and help with your research.

Evaluate Sources With the Big 5 Criteria The Kansas State University lays out how to evaluate sources using a format called "The Big 5". The Big 5 Criteria can help you evaluate your sources for credibility:

  1. Currency: Check the publication date and determine whether it is sufficiently current for your topic.
  2. Coverage (relevance): Consider whether the source is relevant to your research and whether it covers the topic adequately for your needs.
  3. Authority: Discover the credentials of the authors of the source and determine their level of expertise and knowledge about the subject.
  4. Accuracy: Consider whether the source presents accurate information and whether you can verify that information.
  5. Objectivity (purpose):Think about the author's purpose in creating the source and consider how that affects its usefulness to your research.

Sources can also be evaluated using the CRAAP Test (Kansas State University). This test is similar to "The Big 5 and helps to take a closer look at individual sources in order to decide if they are valid and relevant to your research topic. In order to evaluate sources using is the CRAAP Test you will have to evaluate the following qualities of your sources:

  1. Currency
  2. Relevance
  3. Authority
  4. Accuracy
  5. Purpose

This video (2:17) from Western Libraries explains the CRAAP Test. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyMT08mD7Ds&feature=emb_logo [5]

To finish up this section on evaluating resources, head back to the website by Kathleen Morris [6] http://www.kathleenamorris.com/2019/02/26/research-lessons/ Read and work through numbers 26-34 to learn more about evaluating digital media and how to pick proper sources for research.

You can continue working through these activities until you feel confident. When you feel you have a good grasp on how delving works move on to the next section.


How can you write information in your own words (paraphrase or summarize), use direct quotes, and cite sources?

All research activities will require you to cite your sources. This is partly to avoid plagiarism, but it is also beneficial for others that want analyze your research or continue their own research on the same topic. To avoid plagiarism all the researcher has to do is give credit to any information that is not their own. This can be done by paraphrasing-taking someone else's words and summarizing them in your own words. Another strategy is to quote directly from your source. There are different formats for citing sources like APA and MLA, and each can be used for different types of research.

Create a Working Bibliography

A working bibliography, or list of potential sources, helps you track your information. It can be easy to lose track of sources when you are sifting through all the material available online, so it's a good idea to write down each source you might use. It can be as easy as copying and pasting the webpage to a notepad or Word document. If you keep one tab open while you search, whenever you find a useful source that you wan to evaluate more, copy and paste the link in your file.

Some other information you should keep in mind to help your citations:

  • Keep a list and add sources as you find them.
  • Include sources from your background reading, Search It, library catalog, library databases, or the web.
  • Include all citation information for sources.
  • Record URLs and dates of access for online sources.

To learn more about citing sources work through numbers 35-45 http://www.kathleenamorris.com/2019/02/26/research-lessons/ [7]


http://www.kathleenamorris.com/2019/02/26/research-lessons/ http://www.kathleenamorris.com/2018/02/23/research-filter/ https://drive.google.com/file/d/11qDO9koQFAk4M0BhBeuw5HlWfEFE3diJ/view?usp=sharing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyMT08mD7Ds&feature=emb_logo


  1. In your journal, list the research steps discussed in this unit and answer the following questions.
  2. What additional steps do you think can be included to improve researching digital media sources?
  3. What does it mean to be digitally literate and how does that compare to literacy as you know it?
  4. What is the importance of being able to navigate digital sources for research?


Unit 4 [8]

Mini-course home [9]

For further study here are additional links on research: