Thing 21: Student 2.0 Tools

The Assignment Calculator is a tool created by the University of Minnesota Libraries for undergraduate students. Students put in dates for the beginning and end dates of an assignment and its subject area and this Web 2.0 tool generates a 12-step research guide and timeline for the project and recommends resources and strategies. The Assignment Calculator is widely used and adapted by academic libraries across the country. It is available as Open Source Code.

The Research Project Calculator (RPC) is based on the Assignment Calculator and was created to help secondary students plan for and navigate the research process in an ethical manner, using reliable resources. This five step process includes deadlines and (optional) email reminders. The tool also offers hints, worksheets, and guides for various types of projects. While the RPC and Assignment Calculator are aimed at schools and universities, it is appropriate for public libraries, too. Link to it on a teen or student page, use the bookmarks to inform students and parents about their existence, and encourage students to use it as part of their research planning.

The Teacher Guide to the Research Project Calculator (on the RPC site) assists teachers in planning, managing, and teaching the often daunting research process by providing them with resources and step-by-step instructions, based on the five-step process outlined in the RPC. The site begins with an About the RPC section that provides an overview of the calculator, describes the role of the teacher in detail, and explains the resources included in the tool. There is even a streamlined version called "No Time?" for busy teachers. (Are there any other kind?) Public librarians and media specialists, as well as academic librarians, can use this feature to instruct teachers about the RPC.

For this Thing,

1. Look at the RPC and the Assignment Calculator. Don’t try to cover every aspect of the tools, but rather browse the steps and consider how you could encourage students to use this product.

2. Look at the supporting materials in the Teacher Guide. Are any appropriate for library handouts or can you find other resources to supplement what you do for students?

Blog Prompts

How might the RPC and the Teacher Guide help you help students plan and manage research projects?

Can you think of any uses for library projects—could you use it to help manage a timeline for a project of your own?

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