In the quest to turn out young people who are capable citizens, we have to develop certain skill sets in them – for example, information literacy and critical thinking. Learning how to use the Recording Phase effectively helps develop those skills authentically, which makes developing those skills much easier by providing practical experience and self-correcting feedback. It’s pretty easy to tell when one of your sources doesn’t match the others.
Remember that when we reach this phase, we’re pulling items out of our information streams that answer certain questions, namely Is this related to my current project? and How am I going to find this again? That’s it. Those are the two main questions that you should be focusing on at this point. And really, here at the beginning, they’re all you need. You’re just starting your research, your lit review. You’re trying to find out what’s already out there, and you’re looking for what catches your attention.
When we reached this point in the Discovery series, we talked about how practical projects often come in one of two flavors: creative or skill mastery. it’s hard to think about it this way, but the Recording Phase does actually happen in both types of projects.
In a creative project, you’re probably not thinking about research as you begin a project (unless you’re an artist-scholar or autoethnographer). But you are engaging in brainstorming and finding inspirations. If you’re a visual person, you’re starting to pull together a mood board or maybe a collage. You might be doodling. If you’re writing, you might develop mind maps. You’re starting to gather ideas, symbols of inspiration or of the project itself. Strangely enough, this is your Recording Phase. You’re gathering ideas and symbols that you think, starting out, will motivate and drive your project.
In a skill mastery project, it’s a bit easier to see the Recording process in motion. You start gathering learning materials. It may be books. It may be video and podcast playlists. It may be bookmarked articles. You’re pulling together everything you can find on the skill that could possibly help you learn it into one place (although you’ll see in other posts I sometimes use more than that) so you can find it when you sit down to study and practice.
As you’re gathering your materials, you may notice that you’re really only interested in aspects of your starting question or topic. Your materials might all have a specific theme to them that you hadn’t anticipated, and that’s great. You know that you can then focus on just those aspects, because they are what you’re really interested in, and a focused project always has a better chance of success than one that has too many possibilities available to it.