March 4, 2019

Mission Possible: Finding the Right Resources

This blog was co-written by Shannon Carey, Mentor Coach and English Quest Designer, and Emily Russin, Editor

A quest is only as successful as how students and mentors interact and grapple with it, delving into tangential areas of interest or curiosity along the way. What’s more, all the components that accompany a successful quest must be clear, relevant, and—most of all—engaging. The resources that accompany a quest, therefore, are especially important. They need to have a balance between being informative and inviting. While finding the best resources is certainly challenging, it can also be stimulating and, ultimately, rewarding. Resources add value and color to the quest experience, and should appeal to the student as they navigate the topic. While students eventually need to develop the skills to find the most appropriate and useful resources themselves in the real world, they will initially require guidance to uncover the most valid and reliable ones.

Where to begin? Here is an outline that you can use as a guide to reinforcing and expanding upon the lessons of a quest. While there is no one way to search for resources, these strategies may be helpful for future quests.

Compile a List of All Possible Resources

Start with a list. Yes, it might be long. Maybe very long. That’s fine. The whole point is to have a starting point, then winnow that list and end up with the best resources for a particular quest.

Where might this list come from? Two places: recommendations and your own research. First, use the breadth of knowledge of curriculum designers, who may have already provided a list of resources to accompany the subject. Also seek out colleagues in the subject area of the particular quest, because they should have resources that have worked previously. To do your own research involves looking at news sites, education sites, and teaching sites. Check out books or other teaching materials. Consider audio and visual elements, such as videos, interviews, music, and visual arts. For TZ quest designers, this article can be a big help in searching for relevant local resources.

Evaluate Resources

You have your list. Maybe it feels too long, but it represents a variety of forms (publications, audio, video, etc.) and comes from a variety of sources. Now what?

Determine their credibility. This is paramount. To help, refer to the following links:

From here, narrow your list, considering these factors as you evaluate:

Readability: students’ reading ability, accessibility of information, the complexity of syntax/vocabulary, font size, line length

Clarity: clear visual layouts, written and organized well, error-free (spelling and grammar), few pop-ups or banners, different or distracting fonts/sizes

Diversity of Perspective/Bias: too conservative or too liberal, variety of news sites, consider unconscious bias/slant, make sure multiple opinions/perspectives offered, agenda of a specific organization (don’t use a site that is selling something, but if you do, make sure it’s framed critically or that you acknowledge the bias/agenda in the resource description)

Diversity of Format: not just news articles, but a variety of formats (also used in combination to support a claim, such as a video plus article, or an interactive site plus a musical composition)

Timeliness/Relevance: not outdated, check post dates of articles/images/videos, ensure link works, eliminate if only a small section of article/site is pertinent to quest

Appropriateness: read/watch entire resource to ensure complete appropriateness, avoid sexual jokes/improper language/derogatory statements, use content warnings if resource adds relevant value (see Content Warnings in LINK: https://questforward.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003486072-Aligning-Resources-to-Quality-Review-Guidelines Aligning Resources to Quality Review Guidelines)

Accuracy of Information: fact-check information from multiple sites, take note of any author/institutional citations or affiliations, check “about” link for authors and URLs for organizations/institutions to determine credibility and reputation

You have honed your list. It’s shorter. Maybe, at this point, something still feels like it’s missing. This is when you might consider rolling up your sleeves and creating your own resources. This should be undertaken as a last resort, if there are not other appropriate resources available. Cite where your information comes from, giving credit where credit is due. Every resource used should have be correctly attributed to avoid copyright infringement, even your own. Resources will enhance the learning experience of each quest, whether they are charts, spreadsheets, a set of discussion questions, audio/video recordings, or document formats. High-quality resources will result in a deeper, and more complete, learning and mentoring experience. The students on the receiving end of your efforts will ultimately come away with a richer, fuller view of each topic, engaged and enriched by multiple perspectives.

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