Topic 4: Searching and Evaluating Web Resources

   
 

Advanced Searching Tips and Techniques

Search Engines: Search Engines are Web sites that contain a searchable database of Web sites. They use “spiders” or robots to search the Web regularly for new sites. Some of these “spiders” are programmed to look for a key word anywhere on a web page, others are programmed to look just for key words in the Web address (URL) or title of the page.

You may already be familiar with and use several common search engines. You may also have been frustrated by finding several thousand search results to choose from when you've performed a search for information on the Internet. At the same time, you may also have searched for resources and come up with the  message that zero resources are available. To some extent the key words you have chosen and how you choose to put them together will alter the results of your search. Although you may still come up with irrelevant sites, narrowing your search using advanced searching techniques will help you better find the resources you are looking for.

  • Try this:
  1. Go to http://www.google.com
  2. Click on Advanced Search
  3. Fill out their advanced search form with your key words and see what kind of results you get.
Next go to Google's Basic and Advanced Search Tips and explore ways you can more effectively use the Google search engine. Be sure to click on the Special Features link. Read the information on downloading PDF files. If you have a personal or project Web site posted, or if you want to find out who is linked to your favorite Web site click on the Find Out Who Links to You link. Try this feature and see what results you get. You might be surprised.

Today World Wide Web offers many search tools that can be divided into three categories: Search Engines, Directories and DataBases, and Meta Searches (also called Mega Search).

  • Search Engines use special algorithm that ranks web sites. This rank is used to organize the result of the search. Advantage-The search includes most recent pages into result. Disadvantage- the search result may include inappropriate (adult) web sites or irrelevant information.
  • Directories are built form human ranked web sites.The information is usually categorized and classified. The advantage- web sites are appropriate for any population and are easy to find by the subject or category. Disadvantage- Directories include much less pages that Search Engines and usually miss the most recent ones.
  • Meta Searches use other Search Engines and Directories to find information for you and display it into uniform result. This kind of Search Tools is relatively new and is still developing. Advantage- access huge amount of web sites at once. Disadvantage- the search results are usually unpredictable and hard to control. The user gets too much information at a time.

Try at least one in each category to see the difference between them.

Search Engines:

Directories:

 

Meta Search:

The InFoPeople Search Tools Chart gives an excellent overview of several search engines and the best way to narrow your search for each.

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Some search engines and directories have special filters for kids or especially designed for kids. They will filter out web sites that are rated as adult and will give only student appropriate pages.

Here are some of them:

Yahooligans: http://www.yahooligans.com/
Kids version of Yahoo! web site.

KidsClick: http://www.kidsclick.org/
Backed by librarians, KidsClick lists about 5,000 web sites in various categories.

Awesome Library: http://www.awesomelibrary.org/
Over 14,000 sites have been classified into a directory, specifically organized for teachers, students and parents. Information can be found by browsing or searching.

Education World: http://www.education-world.com/
Over 500,000 sites of interest to educators. Browsable or searchable, with the ability to narrow in by appropriate grade level. Launched in spring 1996.

Fact Monster: http://www.factmonster.com/
Reference provider Information Please produces this site which provides facts and information oriented around the needs of children.

Family Source: http://www.family-source.com/
Crawler-based service described more in this review from About.com from October 2003: New Family Friendly Search Engine.

Kid Search Tool: http://www.rcls.org/ksearch.htm
Search a variety of kid-safe search engines from a single page.

Search Edu : http://www.searchedu.com/
Index of pages built by crawling education web sites.

Teach- nology: http://www.teach-nology.com/
Directory of web sites for teachers and educators.

Tech-mom search tool for kids: http://www.tekmom.com/search/
All-in-one search page for kid search sites and research resources.

Dibdabdoo: http://www.dibdabdoo.com/
Billed as an ad free, non-commercial directory of web sites designed for child-safe searching.

Ask Jeeves for Kids: www.ajkids.com
Kids version of the AskJeeves.

More about filters for kids and kids appropriate web-sites in the article "Kids Search Engines" from SearhEnginesWatch.com

The following Web sites will help you to narrow your searches so that you will achieve more useable results. Read  through each and choose the one you like best to help you narrow your searches. Then, use the above search engines to try your key words and the techniques you've learned from the following searching tutorials and searching guides. If necessary adjust or change your key words as you search.

Go to the assignment section and respond to assignment 1.

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Evaluating Web Resources

Just because something is published does not mean that it is a valid resource. How can you be sure the information you and your students  find represents factual information? How can you find sites that will hold your students' attention long enough for them to gather the information they need? The following Web sites offer guidelines, rubrics and check lists for evaluating Web resources. Explore these resources, then choose the one you like the best.


Go to the assignment section and respond to assignment 2. 
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