This is a shamelessly promotional video for Google Glass, but it shows the possibilities this tool opens up for learners. Andrew Vanden Heuvel teaches advanced physics online to high school students whose schools don’t offer the course. He explores CERN, the famous particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing it back into the classroom in real time with Google glasses.
Students rely heavily on ranking–or how search tools decide the order in which to display results–to help them select sources to read. Most of us do, but the data about students comes from researchers Andrew Asher of Bucknell University and Lynda Duke of Illinois Wesleyan University.
The researchers presented the findings of their latest study and forthcoming paper on how university students do research, at the American Library Association Annual conference, and in the talk they emphasized some of their takeaways about what research skills should look like, including an overall focus on critical thinking skills and the ability to evaluate the quality of sources.
Because of the reliance on ranking, Asher and Duke argue, it’s critical for students to have some understanding of how each search tool they use makes these decisions.
To that end, here are a few resources to help understand and communicate with students about how Google ranks search results. Understanding the fundamentals of ranking will help students write better queries and make better choices about where to click.
- This video, How Search Works by Matt Cutts gives a nice overview of how items are ranked.
- Because there are changes going on to the subtler points of ranking all the time, Google makes more than 500 ranking updates in a typical year. How does that happen? You can get an overview of how such decisions are made and find out more about how Google changes its search algorithm. Take a look at this Search Quality meeting to get an insiders’ look into the process.
KEEPING UP ON CHANGES
To dig even deeper, check out the monthly posts on the Inside Search blog that cover the changes made to improve search quality. Here, you can see results to the query [site:insidesearch.blogspot.com intitle:"search quality highlights" ranking], which uses a site: operator to limit results to pages within the Inside Search blog and uses an “intitle”: operator to limit to posts that have the phrase “search quality highlights” in the title. If you click on the link, you Continue reading
Google has launched a new site called Search Education aimed at educators who want to teach online search strategies.
The site includes lesson plans geared at different levels of expertise — beginner, intermediate and advanced– as well as training videos that walk through different strategies for subjects like using Creative Commons and Google maps.
The lessons cover the following topics:
- Picking the right search terms
- Understanding search results
- Searching for evidence for research tasks
- Narrowing a search to get the best results
- Evaluating the credibility of sources
For each topic, lessons for every level of searcher goes into deep detail, offering background explanations of how search works the way it does, specific examples of search words and their results, and numerous tips. There’s also a short quiz at the end of each lesson.
The lessons are aligned with the Common Core Curriculum Standards and refer to the K-12 College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards. According to Google, the lessons are not intended to comprise a whole research unit, but to be integrated into various units as they fit to Continue reading
Dear Savvy Searcher,
“We have hit a stumper. A colleague is looking for confirmation that Maya Angelou said the following (along with where and when):
‘We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.’
We have looked widely and been unable to confirm the attribution. Everyone on the web seems to agree that she said it but no one attributes it with a citation of any sort.
Thanks! I hope y’all can help. We are stymied.”
Google Books can help with this. What’s needed is the information that appears in a citation: the author, place, and date of publication. Luckily, traditional print materials (in the form of books) often include the kind of citation information you might need and Google Books allow you to search the full text of books.
Here’s what to do:
- Go to books.google.com
- Search for: Maya Angelou “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color”. (Generally, I advise against typing in a whole quote. As we will see shortly, I would have done better to use fewer words, as suggested in the recent post on picking good search terms.)
- Notice that many books simply print the quote and credit Angelou, but a few, such as Jay Phelan’s What Is Life?: A Guide to Biology w/Prep-U and Myron W. Lustig and Jolene Koester’s Intercultural Competence, agree on a source: Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (New York: Random House Inc., 1993) 124.
- Within Google Books, search for Wouldn’t Take Nothing “diversity makes for a rich tapestry.”
This is where the search gets tricky. Why did the book itself not come up in the original Google Books results? From experience, I know that famous quotes and other texts tend to change as Continue reading
By Tasha Bergson-Michelson
At its heart, clever searching lies at the intersection of critical thinking, imagination, and the savvy use of technical tools. Google Search Educator Tasha Bergson-Michelson begins a series of guest posts about innovative ways to approach finding information and the problems we can solve when we bring together technology, creativity, and education.
It’s right before bedtime on Sunday night, and your child just announced that she has a report due in the morning about heroes. Excited by the Super Bowl, she wants to write about teamwork among her personal heroes, the New England Patriots. Off she goes to Google to find some inspirational pictures of the Patriots in action.
When searching for the New England Patriots, you get a variety of images–but many of them logos, or fan created photo montages on a background of the team colors. If you actually want a screen full of pictures of people playing the game, what are your options? Continue reading