Just Curious: Children's Use of Digital Reference for Unimposed Queries and Its Importance in Informal Education

Joanne Silverstein
2005 Library Trends  
This research investigated the informal use of two children's digital reference services that were used for purposes unintended by the designers. The motivation for this research was to explore the ways that children bend to their own informal uses the formal tools designed to support their education. Research questions included, How and with what frequency do children use digital reference services to answer their own questions? Do digital reference services support self-initiated learning?
more » ... ld digital reference services support the transfer of student motivation and curiosity from formal education to informal education? What do instructional and software designers need to consider in creating tools that support a notion of transformed education and learning? Results answered these questions and uncovered several unanticipated fi ndings. Digital reference services were shown to support efforts to interest children in science-related careers as early as fourth or fi fth grade and to support self-initiated learning in science. Unanticipated fi ndings showed that students ask different kinds of questions as they progress through school, and they should receive training in the use of digital reference services in elementary school. Further conclusions provide insights for digital reference software and service design and suggestions for more strategic pedagogical use of digital references services. Children's digital reference services are a form of interactive communication technology (ICT) used to support curriculum-based education. Accordingly, most research focuses on children's use of digital reference
doi:10.1353/lib.2006.0020 fatcat:z7rm4chvjrhlphmjcqxvchbyyi