The search engine giant offers a variety of resources that can help teachers guide students in how to use search tools effectively.
teacher who has been working for more than a few years has witnessed the tidal shift in how research is conducted. In the not-so-old days, students headed to the library for access to microfiche, newspapers and academic journals. As the Internet has entered the mainstream, however, teachers face a quandary as the volume of available information has exploded (and the potential for misinformation right along with it).
There’s a commercial on TV now that jokes, “you can’t put it on the Internet if it isn’t true”. There really is a strong tendency for people to want to believe something when they read it online. It is important that students be able to locate accurate sources, and do so without wading through hundreds of search responses responses inefficiently. Some educators have found it challenging to establish guidelines for online research. In addition, there is the logistical issue of determining how to format Internet-related citations alongside traditional citations on a Works Cited page.
Fortunately, help is available today from numerous sources. Chief among them is search engine giant Google, which provides free resources to assist teachers in training their students on how to tap into the wealth of the web. This includes guidance on how to quickly and accurately retrieve information and then discern which information will be most beneficial to research.
The development of such skills is becoming more important as school districts across the nation prepare to implement the new Common Core State Standards, which incorporate media and technology skills into all subject areas.
Through its Search Education project, Google offers a variety of webinars, hands-on lessons and other tools for K-12 students and teachers, including:
Given the ever-expanding volume of information available online – and the quickening transition to digital classrooms – it’s essential that students become proficient at conducting web searches. Google’s Lesson Plans include practice sessions at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels to lead students through the intricacies of search engines and help them develop skills for school and beyond.
For instance, one Beginner lesson shows students how to select the best words to use in an academic search, while the equivalent Intermediate lesson presents ways to identify unique search terms in order to locate more-targeted sources. The Advanced lesson, meanwhile, delves into “firm” and “soft” search terms, as well as the use of context terminology in pinpointing subject-specific groups of information.
For teachers and students interested in acquiring more sophisticated strategies and tips for conducting online searches, Google offers the self-paced Power Searching course and the two-week Advanced Power Searching class.
The open-enrollment Power Searching course covers topics such as “The Art of Keyword Choices,” “Word Order Matters,” “Reading the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)” and “Translation and Search.” There also is instruction on methods of verifying information found online.
In the Advanced Power Searching course, which requires registration, participants are challenged to work through complicated search tasks.
A Google a Day Challenge
Here, Google poses a question to which students must find the answer through an online search. The challenge categories are culture, geography, history and science. Some sample questions include:
- The three-lobed leaves of a tall tree are powdered and used in a traditional New Orleans dish, and the bark is the traditional flavoring for a soft drink. What drink is it?
- The first president to be born as an American citizen learned English as a second language. What was his first?
- Every national flag in the world shares a common geometric characteristic, except for one country. Which country is it?
Each challenge includes a series of slides outlining the various steps and methods involved in finding the correct answer. (Spoiler alert: we’ve included the answers at the end of this post.)
The Live Training webinars are designed to help educators sharpen their own search skills so they can spark their students’ curiosity. Webinar topics include:
- Beyond the First Five Links
- Modern Search Literacy: Leveraging literacies to get the most from popular tools
- Sensemaking: Organizing information to gain better understanding
- Using Google Scholar and other Google resources for education
- Writing Successful Queries: Introduction to Predictive Search
Teachers can also suggest topics for future webinars and connect with other educators and Google representatives through Google+.
Navigating the World of Search
The digital age has placed a world of information at our fingerprints. For today’s youngsters, the so-called “digital generation,” that presents both opportunity and challenge. Navigating a path through the thicket of the World Wide Web will require students – and, of course, their teachers – to have a solid grasp on the intricacies of conducting online searches.
(A Google a Day Challenge answers: Root beer, Dutch and Nepal.)