September 08, 2005

Google-ing: A How-to, Back-to-School "Lesson"

Briefly for now -- I've been busier than I thought I would be the past couple of days!

I've been noticing a lot of hits through Google that have come because people are asking questions. I know exactly where this is coming from, because I've seen it before -- school's in session, and kids are doing Web Quests.

Web Quests are mini-projects that help students to learn how to do research on the Internet. I did them quite a bit when I taught Computer Apps a few years ago. They can be a lot of fun, but one thing the kids loved to do was simply type the question in to Google or ask.com and find the answer that way. I got burned once, because I copied the Web Quest from a Web site and the whole class found the site (with the answers!).

A tip for Web Questers. Key Words. For example, in the search query "The university was not always called tthe pennsylvania state university. do you know it's original name?" (which this site is the top result for on Google, by the way) the keywords are The Pennsylvania State University. The rest is superfluous.

Your next step is to decide what the question is asking, generally speaking. This question is asking about the history of The Pennsylvania State University, so a search for "The Pennsylvania State University" +history would probably narrow things down a LOT. Make sure you use quotation marks, kids!!

I've gotten this one a lot recently as well -- "What is the number of church of the brethren members in guilford county nc?" Check local census information for that one, kids; I doubt the Google search will give you much there.

That's all the help you're getting out of me -- I don't teach that anymore!! But, seriously, use quotes, and think about general key words that will get you the information you're looking for.

And teachers -- if you want my DHMO lesson plan, email me (the address is on the right). It worked really well, and taught the kids to be critical of what they read on the Internet. AND it can be done in one day.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:13 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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