Kuiper, E., Volman, M., & Terwel, J. (2005). The Web as an information resource in K–12 education: Strategies for supporting students in searching and processing information. Review of Educational Research, 75, 285–328.
Kuiper, Volman, and Terwel discuss that although the use of the Web in K-12 learning environments continues to increase, the Web itself doesn’t actually support learning very effectively on its own. Throughout the article, they share findings of studies that demonstrate how students’ are most often using search strategies. They also include a review of literature, mainly from 1997-2003, that discusses the interface of the Web and how that affects its uses in K-12 education. For example, the factor that search engines don’t accept natural language and the pre-selection of websites for children are topics that the authors believe should be addressed.
The authors cover their topic well through a review of both empirical studies and theoretical literature. They even categorize studies into those that evaluated the effects of student characteristics, such as prior knowledge, gender, and age differences, on student search skills and Web usage. Kuiper, Volman, and Terwel highlight the overall trend that students preferred to browse and often struggled with the proper use of keywords and evaluating if sites were reliable and relevant. They covered the age range of available research well (upper elementary through secondary). Finally, the authors discussed various characteristics of the Web in categories as well (such as scope, accessibility, and visual character) and share implications of how this can relate to student use of the internet and how K-12 education might support students in further effective use of the Web.
Although this article was written in 2005, it still offers valuable insight and applications into internet use in K-12 education today. From my professional observations in 6-8 education, many of the student characteristics and they ways in which they access the internet for information continue to ring true. My specific research interests are in the area of assisitive technology and the use of technology for differentiation and this article specifically points out the lack of research in the area of students with special needs and internet use. This may have, and seems to, have been improved upon in the last decade or so, but I think it is still an area that needs further research. The internet provides many useful resources and tools for all students and stakeholders should continue to work together to find ways to better equip students with the strategies they need to access these resources.