Search strategies will remain a challenge even as search engines change and the amount of information available continues to increase. Here are some thoughts about what students need to know about searching.
Choose the appropriate search engine. Each search engine works in a different way and NONE searches everything on the Internet. Using the correct search engine can save time. Many students (and teachers) simply "Google" everything, but here are times when this is not the most effective method. Here are some other search engines to try:
- Clusty: Brings up results in categories.
- Kartoo: A visual search engine.
- Ask.com: Takes a whole question and gives an answer. It was formerly AskJeeves.
Students should be encouraged to use different search engines and to be aware that there are special search engines that can more quickly find specific information. One great tool for finding the right search tool is NoodleTools' NoodleQuest, which asks users to click on a range of parameters and then presents an appropriate set of search engines.
How to evaluate search results. When a search engine returns thousands of results how does a student know what to choose? If they go to the first on the list what will they be missing? Reading all the parts of search results; the URL, the title, the description, and any other information is important in quickly finding what is needed. This is a skill that needs to be practiced.
How to break down a URL and the information that they can learn from a simple URL. For example,: "www.rice.edu/Fondren/Netguides/strategies.html" tells us that it is hosted at Rice University and that it is a page on strategies kept in a folder called Netguides. On the first page of search results time can be saved by looking at the URLs that are returned to evaluate which would best meet the needs of that specific search.
Janice Friesen, Educator
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