Index reveals what kids are searching for online

What are students searching the web for most frequently while at school? Turns out, it’s math games, animals, and historic figures and events, according to an unscientific index of the 15 most popular in-school search terms released by Thinkronize Inc.

The index is taken from Thinkronize’s netTrekker d.i., a child-safe educational search engine reportedly used in some 20,000 schools worldwide. From February through April of this year, "games" was the No. 1 search term on the site, followed by "dogs," "animals," "Civil War," and "George Washington." The total number of unique search terms during this period was 1,844,677.

"Search engines such as Google and Yahoo pull together lists of the most popular keyword queries, underscoring our nation’s interests and fixations and showcasing trends and patterns," said Thinkronize CEO Randy Wilhelm. "Our report offers a different view: a real-time, school-based mirror of what our children are searching for–both for academic purposes and out of genuine curiosity."

Here’s the full list:

1. Games
2. Dogs
3. Animals
4. Civil War
5. George Washington
6. Holocaust
7. Abraham Lincoln
8. Multiplication
9. Math Games
10. Weather
11. Frogs
12. Fractions
13. Planets
14. Sharks
15. Plants

Overall, the list focuses most heavily on math, science, and history search terms. Search terms for multiplication, math games, and fractions are especially noteworthy in light of the National Math Panel’s report recommending an increased focus on multiplication and fractions .

"When you look at the top 10, considering that 20 percent of it is games, I think that’s really interesting, and I think it’s speaking to students and teachers angling their interests more towards digital curriculum and digital content," Wilhelm said.

"I really think it says, ‘I want something more than what I’m getting from my [textbook].’"

Added Wilhelm: "We have these kids who are digital natives, and that’s their world, and then we bring them into a classroom that is the exact opposite."

Thinkronize plans to release its list of the top educational search terms each quarter. Wilhelm said he’s not sure what changes to expect from quarter to quarter. As time passes, the index might reveal a pattern reflecting what is taught in schools at certain points during the year.

Wilhelm did say he expects to see games remain on the list, because of the abundance of educational games available to students.

"The index will show us trends in digital [content] delivery," he said.

The search terms also might help educators learn what topics prompt students to search for additional information online, perhaps owing to outdated textbooks.

For example, Wilhelm said, a search of the planets online reveals that Pluto is no longer a planet–but the science texts in a school might be several years old, and there might be no immediate plans to update those texts, so students would have to turn to the internet for information about Pluto’s reclassification. 

"We are really interested in trends and patterns [of internet use in schools], and I think this [index] will work out well," he said.


netTrekker d.i.

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the “ Creating the 21 st Century Classroom ”resource center. Preparing today’s youth to succeed in the digital economy requires a new kind of teaching and learning. Skills such as global literacy, computer literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation have become critical in today’s increasingly interconnected workforce and society–and technology is the catalyst for bringing these changes into the classroom. Go to Creating-the-21st-century-classroom

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