DeSchryver, M. (2015). Web-mediated knowledge synthesis for educators. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 58(5), pp388-396.

Addressing the changing landscape of a modern web-based environment to include various literacies (new, multi-, and digital), DeSchryver introduces the reader to his previously-authored Theory of Web- Mediated Knowledge Synthesis. The theory embraces the presence of litbots (literacy robots which can synthesize massive amounts of web-based information for readers) and intelligent search engines as a useful tool to preserve energy of the reader for use in more creative efforts. Definitions of generative synthesis and synthesis for meaning are provided, identifying generative knowledge development as reader-required while modern search engines and litbots are able to accomplish synthesis for meaning by drawing from explicit and implicit information in text.

DeSchyrver’s research process included use of divergent search phrases, as well as promotion and cognitive understanding of its usefulness in generative synthesis. In-the-moment insights are discussed as a valuable turning point in web searches, providing creative “ah-ha!” awareness, sending the reader into a thought process not otherwise stimulated by explicit or implicit results. For this purpose, there is value in soft sites (blogs, comment sections, etc.), and time away from the web. Repurposing ideas is an additional concept useful for creative/generative synthesis of web information, and is encouraged in whatever format the reader can manipulate existing thoughts to meld them into something different, and then reinforce that new model with substantive resources, possibly using note-taking methods to assist in forming thought paths.

Implementation tools and suggestions are provided in the text, making it easy for educators to visualize how they will stimulate these processes in their own learning environments. I found the section on divergent search phrases (something I just discovered my own natural tendency towards) especially useful, and appreciated the detail in providing examples to help illustrate the pattern. This is not only a relevant article for my own research in using educational technology to build creative independent thought-processed, but as a student looking to find easier ways to synthesize information. Good one!

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