Text Mining for the Rest of Us
5.4. Teachers - Quick Preparation of Teaching Resources
Create teaching resources using iRR reports
Teachers at all levels can easily and quickly produce detailed class study guides on virtually any topic.
iRR reports are fast and accurate maps to the major concepts or topical areas found for any topic.
Concept areas identified in iRR reports are automatically produced by analysis of the words and expressions used by the authors of the original documents.
iRR doesn't use "made-up topical classifications" or "subject headings." Instead, it "clusters" or classifies concepts based upon what the original authors thought was important about the particular topic. The classifications have no arbitrary limit in number or type; they're based purely on the source text.
Teachers can of course assign specific iRR topics and questions to their classes. But they can also free students to follow whatever interests them. Students are thus exposed to the various concept clusters in the report, and can instantly follow any link to any source document.
A new kind of assignment is possible using iRR reports. Instead of assigning outside reading to "get a bit more depth or breadth in the topic," a teacher might ask for a report or summary on some serendipitous topic. E.g., "Identify and report on some of the economic development handicaps the Confederacy suffered as a result of their reliance on slavery, as opposed to the industrial North."
Students get a new option, to follow the idea "on their own." It's an opportunity for developing their problem-solving and research skills, content analysis skills, and even for the assessment of source information. (Teaching moment: How do you rate quality and selection of material found on the Web?)
The "serendipity by curiosity" approach after all is part of the Web's Siren Call. Students will soon find themselves automatically "broadening their learning," without requiring assigned outside readings, etc. Enjoying it, even. It's a chance to unlock creativity.
Be sure to check out some of the sample iRR reports to get a better idea of the teaching tools iRR can automatically produce.