5 strategies to build better information literacy in students

We live in the age of information. Thanks to the internet, we now have all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. Just think about it: Cooking, philosophy, engineering, literature–anything you could possibly imagine can likely be found using a simple Google search.

It’s pretty astounding when you take the time to consider it. Of course, many of us have learned the hard way that not everything you find online is reliable or true.

This presents educators with a difficult problem. The internet is an inescapable part of our students’ lives. As they grow, students will turn to online resources to help them navigate their education and build upon what they’ve learned. Yet, at the same time, it’s human nature to focus on information that reinforces our preexisting worldview, and many of us passively ingest all kinds of media while browsing social apps.…Read More

5 resources to help students with information literacy

Information literacy skills top many lists of must-have abilities, especially in the age of fake news. Not all results in a Google search are legitimate–but how many of today’s students know this?

Children have access to devices at younger ages, which underscores the importance of teaching them how to look at news with a critical eye and to evaluate the information’s origin. Because today’s students are growing up in an age where information is easily accessed, they need to know how to apply critical evaluation skills when met with information purporting to be truthful.

A 2017 Stanford University study determined that students from middle school through college were not able to distinguish between reliable news sources and sponsored content or advertising.…Read More

Why schools need a knowledge base

When I have a problem with my iPad, I look to Google. Google is my worldwide knowledge base for fixing my toilet, unsticking my iPad, and figuring out the origin of that clunk sound my car started making. For every technology and almost every mechanical thing in my life, I can go to a website or run a general Google search to figure out how to fix it—or at least diagnose the problem.

Everything, that is, except how to get onto the wi-fi in my school district.

Technology is delightful and enriching. It connects students across the globe and invites them to explore the wonders of the world. But the ugly truth is that behind all this technology is a frantic, very overwhelmed IT team without the platform to manage the thousands of transactions asked of it each day. These IT people fully understand and support the promise of technology in teaching probably more than anyone. But when it comes to managing 75,000 K-12 students with brand new school-issued iPads or their own devices, there is often no knowledge base or even an adequate tech-support system in place to adequately assist them.…Read More

Could Google someday answer all your questions?

In a front-page article in The New York Times on Thursday, I wrote that web search is at its biggest crossroad since its invention, as users demand more from search and Google faces a broader array of rivals than ever. Google, in response, is widening the scope of its ambition to include things that today’s internet users might never even think to ask the search engine. Might Google someday help you, for instance, figure out how to get the $200 you need by next week, force your cat and your girlfriend’s dog to get along or tell you whether your husband is picking up the children from school?

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Google search gets more personal, raises hackles

The search results will include pertinent information culled from the requestor's Plus account.

Google is sifting through the photos and commentary on its blossoming social network so its internet search results can include more personal information.

The additional personal touches that began to roll out Tuesday mark another step toward one of Google’s most ambitious goals. The internet search leader eventually hopes to know enough about each of its users so it can tailor its results to fit the unique interests of each person looking for something.…Read More

Google unveils tool to speed up web searches

Google, which can already feel like an appendage to our brains, is now predicting what people are thinking before they even type, reports the New York Times. On Sept. 8, the company introduced Google Instant, which predicts internet search queries and shows results as soon as someone begins to type, adjusting the results as each successive letter is typed. “We want to make Google the third half of your brain,” said Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and president of technology. Google’s new psychic powers result in much faster searches, but the change might affect the many businesses that have been built around placing search ads on Google and helping web sites figure out how to climb higher in search results to increase revenue. It is a sign that even as Google expands into other businesses, like display advertising and cell phones, it remains firmly focused on search, its core business and one that accounts for more than 90 percent of its revenue. It has faced competition recently from Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Google has made its new product the default way to search the web. Instant works with the most popular modern browsers and will show up on cell phones and in browser search bars in a few months. “It’s been awhile since there’s been a game changer in search, and this is,” said Jordan Rohan, an internet analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. “It changes how people search.” He added that it was a feat of computing and engineering that could not “easily be mimicked by Google’s competition.”

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Students trust high Google search rankings too much

As seasoned internet veterans know, just because a site shows up high on Google’s search rankings doesn’t mean it’s the most credible source on a topic. But that bit of wisdom apparently has not made it all the way down to the current generation of college students, Ars Technica reports. According to research out of Northwestern University, students barely care about who or what is showing up when they click on that top link—a behavior that undoubtedly affects their quality of research when doing schoolwork. The researchers observed 102 college freshmen performing searches on a computer for specific information. Most students clicked on the first search result no matter what it was, and more than a quarter of respondents said explicitly that they chose it because it was the first result. Only 10 percent of the participants mentioned the author or author’s credentials when performing their research, and according to screen captures of those students, “none actually followed through by verifying either the identification or the qualifications of the authors.” Students did acknowledge that certain web sites—mostly those ending in .gov, .edu—were more credible than others because they weren’t written by “just anybody.” However, some felt the same way about .org sites and were unaware that .org domains could be sold to anyone (and therefore have about the same credibility as any .com out there)…

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Update: Google touts encrypted search fix

Google has changed its encrypted search domain name.
Google has changed the domain name for its new encrypted search feature.

Responding to concerns from education technology officials, internet search giant Google Inc. has moved its encrypted search feature to a new domain name, from https://www.google.com to https://encrypted.google.com. The move is intended to let schools block Google’s encrypted search feature without having to block the company’s other services, too—but some ed-tech officials say it’s not a viable solution to the problem.

Google in May released a new encrypted search feature, which lets internet users hide their search queries from third parties. The service uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections to encrypt information that travels between a user’s computer and Google’s search engine, meaning that a user’s search terms and search results pages cannot be intercepted by any third-party software on the network. Searches also are not archived in the web browser’s history and won’t appear in the auto fill during a subsequent search.…Read More

Google tunes up search results

Google Inc. is fine-tuning the way it presents its internet search results to make it easier for people to find information and images they want, reports the Associated Press. The most noticeable changes will occur to the left of Google’s search results. That area will offer more tools for reshuffling search results into specific categories, such as news, images, blogs, and video. The new alternatives also will open more doors to other possible topics of interest. The changes are part of the incessant tinkering that Google does to maintain its commanding lead in the internet’s lucrative search market. Here’s an example of how the new system might work: A search request about a scientific theory might cause the left side of Google’s results page to provide links suggesting an exclusive focus on images or information pulled from books or videos. The categories appearing on the left side of the page would be different for a search request about a sports event. Those might point to blogs and news instead. Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., the owners of the second- and third-most popular search engines, already offered control panels that can carve search results into servings that suit individual tastes…

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Lehigh loses in NCAA tournament, but scores big on Google

Across the nation, a single question formed in the minds of tens of thousands of college basketball fans last Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, reports the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.: What’s this ”Lehigh University”? Google was flooded with searches about Lehigh just as its men’s basketball team squared off against No. 1-ranked University of Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City. Google listed ”Lehigh University” as its No. 2 ”Hot Search” for Thursday, with a spike in searches that peaked at tip-off time. For comparison, searches about Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock’s rumored problems with husband Jesse James ranked eighth on Google’s list. ”Yeah? That’s impressive,” said senior guard Marquis Hall Friday on learning of his team’s internet fame. ”It’s great exposure for the school to have your name out there when you’re in the tournament.” Despite taking a lead in the game’s early moments, 16th-seeded Lehigh fell to Kansas, 90-74. But in terms of publicity, Lehigh officials see the televised game and its online popularity as a huge win. The game was aired on TV in at least 44 percent of the nation, and that percentage increased as other games wrapped up and the Kansas-Lehigh game got tighter, said university spokesman Bill Doherty. At the same time, internet traffic to the university’s web site jumped more than 65 percent…

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Google launches tool for searching public data

Google is building on its partnership with the World Bank, U.S. Census Bureau, and other gatherers of statistics to present an array of data in visual form within Google Labs, CNET reports. Google Public Data Explorer went live March 8. The site takes public data regarding schools, population, crime, and other topics to construct charts and graphs that help illustrate key trends that might interest researchers. Google also is releasing a list of the top search terms that can be answered with public data, based on an analysis of anonymous search data. School comparisons and unemployment topped the list of the most frequent queries, followed by population, sales tax, and salaries. The list gives searchers an idea of the data available to them that can be manipulated into moving charts and graphs over a period of time…

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