Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Questia Goes Over Big

This morning I had two great sessions with the combined U.S. History/American Literature classes of Mr. Brown and Mr. Winkler.

The students have begun their U.S. history research papers on a topic of their choosing . Topics can be chosen from American history events which occurred from 1870 to 1990.

Students earlier had been introduced to print library resources and Issues and the Controversies in American History database and had begun to develop topics and thesis statements.

Today we had their second "resource workshop" in which they were introduced to Google Book Search and Google Scholar, as well as two library subscription databases, Questia and CQ Researcher Archive.

The students were shown the basics of the specialized Google search products and how to go beyond them using the "Find in a Library" feature. The limitations of both search engines were pointed out--mainly the issue of access to full text--but the usefulness for research was also explained.

We next showed how CQ Researcher could be used for historical research using its "Issue Tracker" feature which shows documents/articles going back to 1923.

Finally I showed the students a video demo of Questia, a database which we have had for a couple years but which we upgraded our subscription to this year so each student could have an individual account. QuestiaSchool is a database of full-text books and journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. The video showed how to set up a "Project" and then search for and annotate, highlight, bookmark and cite articles and books from the database. Using Questia is like having a library on your laptop and unlike Google's Scholar and Book Search, you are always assured of having access to the texts you finding.

The students were impressed by the power of all of these tools but I'm sure we are going to see the increased use of Questia over the next few weeks.

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