Until very recently, people had to put a lot of effort into finding the information they needed. Students had few other options than to spend countless hours at school libraries, flipping through thousands of pages just to find what they were looking for. The introduction of the Internet, however, was a big game-changer and very soon a fantastic number of online resources became available. Still, does that mean that student research and use of resources also improved dramatically?
The best answer is that the situation is now much better, but it is far from perfect. The fact that the right information is currently available almost instantly and to any person who wishes to find it, regardless of their location, does not necessarily mean that the one who is looking for it will know where to look. It is difficult for some people to see the forest from the trees and they often get lost in the myriad of available resources. So, what can be done to make the use of online resources more effective?
5 Best Ways of Using Online Resources More Effectively
1. Develop information literacy
If you are to use online resources effectively, you need to improve your skills in evaluating your information needs, searching for possible sources and assessing their credibility. This rarely happens overnight, but you have to be persistent and apply common sense.
You should also be able to recognize if the information you have found is outdated and you need to learn to integrate data from different sources into your assignment. Failure to do so means you’ll waste your time produce an irrelevant and useless result.
2. Recognise reliable sources
It is hard to underestimate the importance of finding credible and reliable online sources. The fact that some text or information was published more recently than another one could be an indicator of the information’s validity, but it does not have to be the case.
Usually, people are more interested in the source itself and are more likely to trust reputable institutions and individuals, or they rely on recommendations from their friends and colleagues. For example, there are student resources and notes platforms like Thinkswap, where study notes and guides can be downloaded and shared with other students. Here, previous students share their experiences with current and future students.
3. Check when possible
If you think you have found what you were looking for, make sure you crosscheck it with some other reliable resource. This is usually not very difficult, but it can be quite revealing. For instance, if no other source quotes the same information, you need to take it with a pinch of salt and keep looking.
Sometimes the credibility of the source is enough, and you can find what you need quite easily and quickly. Let’s say you need to find some good university guide in Australia. A simple search will give you many resources with more or less similar lists, but the amount of information might vary.
4. Rely on trusted recommendations
If someone you trust, such as your teacher, professor or expert in the particular field, recommends some resources, you should use the opportunity to avoid wasting time looking for the right information.
You can also use their suggestions to further your research using similar sources, which are recommended by the sources you were introduced to.
5. Sharing experience
It’s always a good idea to share your experiences with various online resources with your friends and colleagues, since that also cuts down the time you would spend searching. Not only does that result in increased efficiency, but you also get to see how knowledge is put into practice.
Being able to get or provide help to someone has numerous benefits, and the momentum you gain in doing so could be something that will also keep you motivated for much longer, which should result in better performance.
Although it may sometimes seem that looking for reliable online sources is overwhelming and would require a lot of time, it does not have to be like that. Those who are focused and skilled usually make the most of the availability of so many resources, and there is no reason why you should not be one of them.
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