Teach your students the right way to Google

In addition to the Search Education Lessons, Google also offers a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled: “Power Searching with Google.” (The course is taught by Dan Russell, a senior research scientist at Google, who is also the man behind SearchResearch, a blog about all things search and research). If you have limited time, you may find the Power Searching Quick Reference useful, and the explainer video emporium Common Craft also offers a short video on web search strategies, which students might find easy to digest.

Afterward, test your student’s search skills, (or your own), with a Google a Day, a web puzzle that poses a question answerable via some targeted Googling. The terms and keywords are up to you, but, as the site notes, there’s only right answer. If you don’t find these challenges difficult enough, try Google’s Advanced Power Searching Course, where you will find complex search challenges and solve them along with others from around the globe. (“You are in the city that is home to the House of Light and a museum in a converted school featuring paintings from the far-away Forest of Honey,” challenges one riddle in the course. “What traditional festival might you be visiting?”)

Who told you that?

Once students have found what they are looking for, the next step is to evaluate the source. Is the information accurate and reliable? Is it current? Are there biases? For a short primer to the topic, watch Common Craft’s explainer video, “Website Evaluation.” You can also show students classic hoax web sites like the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus and Dihydrogen Monoxide, which illustrate beautifully that not everything on the internet is true. Another favorite for driving this point home is State Farm’s humorous French Model commercial.

(Next page: Put students’ Google skills to the test)

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