Friday, January 26, 2007

Search skills

Today I've finally managed to put together a draft of a brief introductory manual on effective search that could be useful to all of our students. That's something I've actually wanted to do for quite some time as I really feel that search skills are very important today. Sadly, search is in my opinion too often oversimplified. It might seem like an easy thing to do - you just type in a few words on Google and bam! here are the most important results - of course right on the first page (nobody bothers to go over the third page, right?). Luckily for us, search engines are quite smart, but I still think that people aren't really aware of how search engines work and how search pages are ranked.

Also, Google does make advanced search really easy - but how many people are aware of that function and know why it can be used? I'm not sure it's so obvious - especially to people that aren't interested in technology, but use computers and the Internet because they have to (either for their work or study).

And writing the right words in Google is just the first challenge - one must also be able to evaluate the quality of search results and especially the quality of single web sites. Can a certain site be trusted? We all know that publishing content to web is now easier than ever before, so how can we tell whom to trust? And then - how can web content be used for school projects, presentations and such? I'm afraid that some of our students still believe that web content is free to use and doesn't need to be cited.

If you're also wondering about similar questions or facing similar issues, I recommend Finding Information on the Internet: A Tutorial by Joe Barker as a starting point. Of course, there are many other great resources out there, so don't hesitate to use your search skills and find them ;-)

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.