Good Old Fashioned Research

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Computers, databases, and electronic journals are increasingly playing a crucial role in research. Students can gain a new perspective on these tools, however, by attempting to do research without using them. Ask students to imagine that all the computers on campus have been knocked out, perhaps by something as innocuous as a power outage. Have them complete some simple research tasks using non-electronic tools. The results can be quite interesting. At my institution, for example, no research can be done without a computer now: there is no card catalog and no bound copies of indexes such as the MLA International Bibliography. Asking students to complete this exercise will either expand their set of research skills or, just as usefully, prompt them to consider our reliance on electronic research tools.
About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.