In the last post I mentioned that you might like to have your students turn off Google instant. The reason is that if your students are anything like me, they will always been looking for the easy answer. Compound this with the tendency to be easy distracted by shiny objects and you have a recipe for disaster.
In my opinion the purpose of searching Google isn’t just to get AN answer it is to get the BEST answer. As such you want your students to think through the process of what are they researching and what would be the best way to find that answer. Google instant gives you ideas based on the most popular search terms, not necessarily the best search term. You can turn off Google instant in your preferences – see this post to find out how. For those who like to know other alternate search terms; you can use the related search tool (I’ll explain that in the next post).
One of the best (and most under-utilised) features in Google is the advanced search tool. Once you have your students using the basic features you can then continue to think through the process of what will give you the best result for your search term. The advanced search tool is great for refining your search results.
In the picture below I will show you the three main features that I use (you can click the image to see it enlarged)
1. Remove words and phrases (red arrow):
Often when you search Google you can receive a range of search results that have nothing to do with your topic. In this example we have searched for the term planets but based on your previous browsing history you might get a large amount of results from sci-fi movies. By simply adding any terms you DON’T want as part of your search results you can eliminate irrelevant material.
2. Set the reading level (blue arrow):
I will do a whole post on this tool, but for now be aware that you can search Google according to your reading level (basic, intermediate, and advanced). This is great for younger students as it immediately eliminates any results that may have technical language in them.
3. Choose the date (green arrow):
Once again I will do a whole post on this. This is a great tool for narrowing your search down by when the web page was created or updated (note not when the source was originally written). For example you might have a newspaper article from the 1950’s on a page that was written last week so it would show up in the last weeks results.
If you can get your students doing a basic and advanced search you are a long way towards teaching them to find relevant information – a skill which will become more and more essential as we head into the future.