Monday, April 6, 2020

Five Search Tools Students Often Overlook

In our new remote teaching and learning environments students may find themselves having to look things up online more than ever before. Even if you're hosting online class meetings in Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams there will still be lots of time when students need to do some research on their own. This is a good time to remind students about some basic search strategies like creating a search checklist and consulting vocabulary lists as part of the search process. Once they've done those basics it might be time for them to try some other search tools that often get overlooked.

Google Books
My favorite feature of Google Books is the option to search within a book. You can do this with any book that is listed by Google Books as free or in the public domain. You can also do this with many of the books that are listed as "preview only." All of the free books can be read online and or downloaded as PDFs. Watch the video below for an overview of how to search within Google Books.

Google Scholar
High school and college students can use Google Scholar to find court rulings, articles from academic journals, and patent filings. Using Google Scholar can get some students off of the hamster wheel of sorting through pages of lower-quality articles discovered through a typical search.

Dataset Search
Dataset Search is a tool that Google launched in beta around this time last year and made fully available in late 2019. Dataset Search does exactly what the name implies, it helps you find publicly available datasets on a wide variety of topics. Many of those topics are related to economics and demographics.

Refine Google Results by Date
Depending on the topic, the recency of an article can play a significant role in its current accuracy. Refining search results by date is a good way for students to find the most recent information about a topic. Similarly, if they're trying to see how information about a topic has changed over the years, students might restrict results to a set of prior dates.

Refine YouTube Search Results
Depending upon the day and the source, YouTube is often one of the three most-visited and searched sites in world. My comp sci students have been using it a lot lately when they need a little coding tutorial and I'm not available. Depending upon the topic, your students may also be doing a lot of searches on YouTube. They can refine their results by date of publication as well as length of video.

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