Here Is One Way We Can Empower Students To Leverage The Internet To Make Research Meaningful

Michael Cohen
Feb 16, 2018 · 3 min read

As I sat with an 11th grade student in my Entrepreneur Studio Course, he started to share with me how he wants to figure out how Artificial Intelligence (AI) could help people fully control their dreams. It’s a mindblowing idea, but where do you start? He has no clue, and as I try to keep up the persona that educators, or any “expert” knows everything I start asking him questions. Not questions he needs to answer, but rather questions he needs to act on. A big challenge in life is not knowing what you don’t know. So what do you do when you don’t know something? Not just young people, adults too underestimate the power of the internet to find answers they need or even ones they didn’t know they needed. The number one response to nearly 80% of questions in my courses is “Google It”. Should I know everything, or should I know where to find anything? Digital and Internet literacy is as fundamental as writing and reading. So where do you start? How do you become a Google search ninja?

Today, there is absolutely nothing standing in your way to find the knowledge you need. You just need to know how to navigate the journey.

In the case of this student, I asked this him if his idea was research focused, manufacture focused, or service focused. He said research, so I asked him if he had ever hear of Google Scholar? While some might use that resource a method to find scholarly articles for this college courses, I find it a great way to find experts in research oriented fields. I broke it down for him as follows:

Step 1: Go to and search for a topic

Step 2: Adjust date filter to desired year to include current research

Step 3: Evaluate if you want to connect with a local expert or a more renowned expert. (Sometimes you’re lucky and you get both)

Step 4: Check the frequency of to work being cited

Step 5: Google researcher to find contact info ie: faculty website or professional blog

Step 6: Draft an email explaining how you found them, a line about who you are, and why you’re reaching out. Ask them if they would be open to engaging you in a conversation around this topic you are both passionate about.

Step 7: Challenge students to create an artifact of learning. Have them conduct a podcast interview and combine each students interview into a single episode. Write a blog article on the innovative work the expert is engaging in. Create a video reflection on the process. The possibilities are endless!

It’s activities like the one above that can demonstrate to students how research, when used in an actionable way leads to a better understanding and execution of the discovery process. Research can and should be more than just find information and regurgitating it back to a teacher in the form of a 5 paragraph essay. The above challenge is meant to complement other methods of research. The power in the activity is that it gives students a two fold level of skill develop both in finding information and discovering how you can use the internet to connect with experts, learn from them, and use them as a information source. It’s real world experiences like this that show students how they can engage in a globally connected society through the internet to learn new skills, gain new insights, and engage in collaborative experiences.

Michael Cohen

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Cultivating Creative Practice in Education - Designer, Problem Solver, Storyteller, M.S.Ed, Apple Distinguished, Creator — The #EducatedByDesign Project