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Information Gathering

We have been conducting information gathering throughout our academic and work careers. Throughout school, we have learned strategies and techniques for gathering information. The only thing that has changed are the common methods used. At one time, physical libraries were the places to go to conduct research and it took more time to complete. Now, research is conducted primarily on the Internet, and it takes much less time [1].

When looking for solutions to immediate problems, always keep an eye out for best practices. If you discover a best practice, try to capture the details in a tool that will allow you to retrieve it easily later.

Sources of information

Determining the sources for information changes with each problem that is encountered. In some cases, you may rely more on people to find a solution to your problem, and in other cases, you may need to search the Internet. Here are some typical sources that you might consider:


Odds are that you are not the first person to run into the problem you are facing. They can easily put you on the right track. It is simply a matter of asking them. Here are some possibilities as they relate to Extension:

  • Your supervisor
  • Your office assistant
  • Initiative team members
  • Members of other initiative teams
  • Specialists
  • Agencies
  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Extension members from other states


In many cases, people go to the Internet first before talking to a colleague. One of the first places searched is Google. When trying to find an answer to a problem, consider using:

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • FLickr
  • Twitter
  • UW Library
  • Proprietary databases
  • Subscriptions to professional magazines and journals

Most people can conduct basic searches on the Internet; however, to find what you really need you should become more familiar with the search query structure for different systems: Here are some of the more common search structures:

Tools for finding information

There are many techniques for finding information on the fly; however, here a couple of suggestions for gathering information on a topic on a regular basis. These techniques require setting up search queries and then setting up monitoring stations to have the information come to you.

Setting up RSS feeds

One of the most powerful learning tools available to individuals is the RSS feed. RSS feeds allow you to subscribe to information. With an RSS feed, you can subscribe to news feeds and blog feeds. With some sites, you can establish a search query and subscribe to the resulting RSS feed. This is a great way to subscribe to content fitting your needs. This link provides more information about RSS feeds. Here are two important RSS feeds you can create from search queries:

  • Google News Alerts
  • University of Wyoming Library journal search queries - Howto

Twitter Searches

Twitter searches are another powerful way to tap into the information stream. I recommend that if you do create Twitter search queries that you use a third party tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to monitor them. Using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck you can easily monitor Twitter lists or hashtags.

Tools for collecting and sharing information

Hoffman encourages employees everywhere to share resources with other as they find them. [1] One of the more powerful things we can do for adult learners is to create learning resource guides or lists. By providing countless options, adults remain in control of their learning, something they enjoy. An easy way to develop a subject guide is with a tool like Diigo, a social bookmarking tool. You can also use other tools such as wikis. Here are resources you can use to collect and share resources for others:

One tool I believe important to mention is Evernote. Evernote is an application that allows you to capture ideas anywhere with virtually any device. With Evernote, you can capture ideas, Webclips, Web pages, audio clips, images, etc. and organize them with tags and "notebooks". You can capture and organize ideas from your phone, iPad, Web browser, e-mail, and computer. All devices can synchronize with each other; however, you can capture ideas offline, and synchronize when there is an Internet connection. It is a powerful tool for collecting your ideas and thoughts. It can be set summed up with this short video


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hoffman, B. (2003). Informal learning: Managing the training function. Alexandria, Va.: ASTD. Retrieved from

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