A Google A Day

Click the link above to begin using A Google A Day to teach yourself and your students better strategies for using the power of Google to search the internet for the most relevant information. In Education in the 21st century, the most core skill we can teach our students is the power of search. There is no lack of information on the Internet to learn about absolutely anything one might be interested in. 

The majority of us use very simple search terms with Google and probably never leave the first page of search results. We can teach students to find much more relevant information for their research projects by teaching them some very simple skills.

 Take a look at the typical search a student might perform for a research project on Global Warming. There are 350,000,000 results for the student to review. So, most likely the student will click on one of the first 4 links that he finds and will not do much more than that.
 In this example, using quotes around "global warming" has reduced the number of hits from 350,000,000 to 78,900,000. Well that is an improvement but still it might take the student his lifetime to actually check each of these references! How can we narrow our search? How do these first links that appear get to the top of the heap? That is an interesting question and might make a great approach for a research project for one of your students!
 In this example I have added the site:edu search in front of my search terms. In many cases, you may get more verifiable results if your search is narrowed to .edu search domains. Here we have dropped to 8,470,000 results from our original 350,000,000. There are many site: strings that we can use, such as site:gov. You might also get different results if you use country codes, for instance .au
 Here is the result for .gov. These results are webpages hosted on Government sites. More reliable? You will have to decide! What is the agency? Do you trust them? Where is there information from?

  1. Try a few of these yourself. Be creative. Try What kinds of results will this bring?
  2. Try using the country code for China. (.cn) Are the results the same?
  3. Think about other topics students might research? AIDS? Will the results be the same if you filter on the country of South Africa?
  4. How can you find out what the country codes are?