Issues, questions, muddy points
Make a list of the five things you are unclear about. Anything at all. Then prioritise them.
The questions/issues are in italics and while the comments that follow are recollections of the conversations that took place they obviously don't capture all the points made.
Trouble with defining the topic -rough idea of the focus
In part it is a matter of conversation (with me) and in part some limitations in search techniques. I put a worked example of how I'd go about scoping an issue in the notes from Week 3. Of course, you are not me and I'm sure you have your own particular tricks for doing searches. I think though that having some understanding of how the search engine you are using1 works is an important part of using your search experience to help you shape your thinking about your topic.
Refining the annotated bibliography - are 3 books ok
There is a view held by some students that once you have settled your annotated bibliogrpahy, that is it. That is the basis for your draft article, i.e. you can't shift from it. No. That is not the case. No research works in such a controlled, linear manner. Between your annotated bibliography and your paper things will shift. You may find additional material. You may shift your thinking about the direction or balance of your issue. All kinds of things can cause the original focus to move a little. This is not a bad thing. It can only turn bad if it means you keep wandering aimlessly around and not finishing your paper! :) And yes, books are OK to include in your annotated bibliography. Remember though that what you are drawing on is research. So, research reported in a book or perhaps reviewed in a book is perfectly OK to make use of.
How to make my paper useful/valued
We will talk more about that later in the course but even if you write the most valuable and useful papers, if it does not attract attention, few will read it. In part therefore, a good paper has to sell it's key idea to its audience. A common way to hook a reader is to use a compelling story as an opening.
Sources from local countries of interest.
We have had some discussions about the desirability for students from other countries to locate their focus in the education system(s) of that country. There may however be a lack of research that has been conducted in relation to the issue in the country of interest. The best approach then is to draw on the literature that is available and then qualify the findings based upon the educational values and practices of the country of interest. You may draw on more broadly focussed educational research from your country of interest as a way to connect findings from other countries. Even for Australia, mapping US-based research back is not as simple as it may appear.
Always tricky for all of us to manage and perhaps more so now with the distractions of chasing down so many interesting rabbit holes you come across online. All i can offer is the discipline of your notebooks. If you find that a lot of the material is ending up in your third notebook2 then it probably suggests you need to try and keep to a handful of rabbit holes that are related to your issue.
I can't find a lot of papers not directly linked to my issue/topic
Two likely reasons: either there are none or your searching is no well refined. You can't expect to wander online and have material simply pop up and say, "here I am pick me". You have to work your searches. You have to do the detective work. When you find a good paper or book then use it to find more material as we've described elsewhere in this wiki. Developing, refining and continuing to improve your searching is the other, implicit agenda of this course. I'm happy to help but in the end you need to learn how to do good searches.
Tips for ways of finding your ways around different sites.
It really depends on the site. Every site has a different logic or structure. Working out what that is is half the battle. It's very much a matter of guess was the web designer is thinking. Well designed sites should have an intuitive logic to them, i.e. easy to use, easy to find stuff. For instance with this wiki. The easiest way to find almost anything is to use the search field at the top right of each page. There is often a search option for large sites than can be helpful also. I'll solicit some examples of sites on the G+ site and then try and do some "worked examples" for you.
I have one excellent source, can I use more words for it in the annotated bib?
Yes. But not a lot more. Use the resource to find the sources that have cited it3. If it is an excellent resource it is bound to be cited by more than just a few folk. Remember that the annotated bibliography is your first pass through the literature of interest. It's highly liekly you will find other, better material after you submit it. No bad thing. Main thing is to get your issue as clear as you can, as sharp as you can and identify a useful set of beginning references about which you can write annotations that will be helpful when you come to do the draft paper.