Zotero…a student researcher’s dream (Ed Tech 501)

Notecards are over, students.

For those of us who had to have the requisite 50 to 100 note cards, complete with footnotes, MLA or APA., well, say goodbye.

I was recently introduced to Zotero through my Ed Tech 501 class. Allow Zotero to describe itself:

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help youcollect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.”

It does. It saves the articles collected, especially those from primary sources, and even (gasp) helps put the Works Cited list together in its proper format (give or take a few minor issues).

Zotero also allows students to take notes and collaborate materials for group assignments. The learning curve is no more daunting than fighting with APA, so it is well worth the effort (especially since it is free).

The only problem is that right now, the browser of choice for Zotero is Firefox. A stand alone is available, but I have not experimented with it as yet.

As I said, the MLA and APA formatting is actually pretty good and pretty accurate, something grad students appreciate as they grumble through the correct approach. However, I have not attempted Zotero outside of the academic library realm, so I am not certain how well it pulls it pulls together information for average materials found online.

There are other items students can use for research that might be easier for general consumption, including Diigo. Diigo is a little more user friendly for general research (see the left, do not get carried away with the evolution graphic) and can be used with tablets and various browsers. However, one might have to put a little more effort into the MLA/APA works cited page.

I stopped teaching the use of note cards with my students two years ago (I stopped using note cards when I was in college…which my former students may curse me for, but hey, Doth Grin exists for a reason).

Take time and play with Zotero and/or Diigo. It is a pleasant move from the now antiquated approach to note cards and also allows more freedom for solid internet research.

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