Effective Searching Changes Everything!

The WWW can be a crazy place and finding what you need is sometimes the greatest mystery. How do you zoom in to get exactly what you need from the vast amount of information that is on the WWW?

Web Search Strategies in Plain English Video - http://www.commoncraft.com/search

LaughingAlan November has a great little section on Effective Search Practices in one of his handouts - I have cut that section out so you can print just that section. effectivesearching-november_0.pdf.Laughing

If you are interested in the full 45 page document, please visit http://www.novemberlearning.com/ (download from here: http://novemberlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/nl-workshop-workbook.pdf)

Effective Searching Practices (As summaraized from above document):

1. Have a search plan!
Have students think critically about their research problem. what is it that they need to find out? What format  will best meet their needs (videos, images, text, interviews)? What search tools will help them find the type of information they need (database, primary documents, regualr search engines)?

2. Use advanced search techniques.
Use SPECIFIC key words correctly in a query string. Make sure students understand Boolena Operators (AND, OR, NOT - must be used in ALL CAPS with space on each side) as well as addtional operators such as +, -, " ".
Search using extensions (.ca, .com, .edu, .org, .gov, .k12).  To see a list of country codes, please go to http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/text/web_country_codes.html.

.org - organization
.com - company
.sch - school (used outside of US)
.k12 - most but not all US schools
.edu - US higher education (http://www.usask.edu/ is redirected to http://www.usask.ca/)
.gov - US government (add country code for outside US)
.ac - academic (higher ed outside US, usually used with country code, i.e. "ac.uk"
.net - network

You can search using the host: command within AltaVista (i.e. "cancer research" + host:gov) and you can extend that to search and narrow results for a particular domain name, country, and so forth. Going global with host: command searches enables your students to see the difference in search results based on the "perspective of that country" and not just the top ten results that they might get from a simple google search! 

How would you search for a list of of websites of all academic insitutions in South Africa? http://www.altavista.com/ and then type host:ac.za. (1.6 million results) What about engineering in South African academic institutions? host:ac.za + engineering (97,000 results).

For more info in Altavista search commands: http://www.altavista.com/help/search/help_news

3. Use advanced and more specialized search engines. What is the difference between a search engine (http://www.altavista.com/)  and a directory (http://www.dmoz.com/)? What role do real humans play in directories?  When should one use Altavista instead of Google? Consider using the same search query in two search engines or directories to see what is different about the results.

For a list of search engines, directories, meta-search engines and their functions please refer to: http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2156221

Yahoo is the web's oldest directory but also has a crawler search engine. Directory can be found here: http://dir.yahoo.com/ and the search engine at http://www.yahoo.com/.

Kid Centric Search Tools:

NoodleQuest Search Strategies Wizard: http://www.noodletools.com/noodlequest

Tekmom: http://www.tekmom.com/search