Showing posts with label Yahoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yahoo. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten Search Tools and Tactics Teachers and Students Need to Know

I often find myself in conversations with teachers and students about Internet search strategies. Often times the conversation reminds me that what's obvious to me is amazing to someone else. Last week I had that very experience as I taught a couple of teachers some search techniques that they are going to pass along to their students. As a follow-up to that experience, I've crafted the following list of search tools and tactics that every teacher and student should know.

1. Stop Googling "What" questions. Googling "what were the causes of x,y,z?" or "why did Mr. X do x,y,z?" or Googling any similarly phrased question yields results that start with that phrasing. Often the results of searching with those terms leads to poorly written, inaccurate content on question and answer services like Yahoo Answers and Wiki Answers. I have watched students who search using those terms quickly grow frustrated before ultimately saying, "Google doesn't have anything about this." One solution to this problem is to teach students to search for the subject of question, not the question itself. The better solution is in item #2 below.

2. Stop assigning research questions that can be quickly answered with a Google/ Bing/ Yahoo search.

3. Use the overlooked Google "advanced search" page. Previously located at the top of the page, the link to the advanced search page recently moved to the bottom of the Google results page. The slideshow below outlines ten advanced Google search options. (Some of these options are also available in Bing and Yahoo search).

Expand the slides to full screen to see the details better.

4. Create Google Alerts. If there is topic that you or your students frequently search for, consider creating a Google Alert for that topic. You can create a Google Alert using any combination of search terms. Each time new content matching those search terms is indexed, the content or link (depending on your selection), is delivered to your choice of email or RSS reader. For step-by-step directions on creating Google Alerts please see page 24 of my free ebook Google for Teachers II.

5. Google Books. Google Books is a great place to find all kinds of books and magazines that you can preview and or read for free online or on your ereader device. For the last couple of years I've been using Google Books to create lists of free books that my US History students can access for research assignments. I do that by searching for a topic in Google Books, filtering results to show only "free Google eBooks," putting the titles on a Google Bookshelf, then sharing the link to the shelf I created. My students can then visit my bookshelf to see the books that I have recommended to them. The slides below will walk you through how to use Google Books for the purposes of locating free books that can be read online or downloaded, searching within a book, and creating shelves to share with others. The tutorial assumes that you already have a Google account. If you don't have a Google account I recommend creating one before going through this tutorial.

Expand the slides to full screen to see the details of the screen images.

6. Sweet Search is a search engine that searches only the sites that have been reviewed and approved by a team of librarians, teachers, and research experts. In all there are 35,000 websites that have been reviewed and approved by Sweet Search. In addition to the general search engine, Sweet Search offers five niche search engines. The niche search engines are for Social Studies, Biographies, SweetSites (organized by grade and subject area), School Librarians, and Sweet Search 4 Me (for elementary school students).

7. Wolfram Alpha is billed as a computational search engine and this is exactly what it does. If students have any questions involving numbers, Wolfram Alpha is the place to go. Wolfram Alpha can be used for many other search functions too, just remember that it's not an index of the web like Google or Bing, it's an index of information. Here's a recent post in which I outlined some of the many things Wolfram Alpha offers.

8. Twurdy is search tool that automatically displays the readability of your search results for you. Twurdy uses a simple color-coded system to indicate how easy or difficult it is to read a particular website in your search results. There are three types of Twurdy searches; Just Twurdy, Simple Twurdy, and Twurdy with Pop. Here's how Twurdy defines the three search types:

Just Twurdy - searches using Twurdy's basic algorithm with medium speed and medium results. 

Simple Twurdy - searches using Twurdy's simple algorithm for fast speed but less accurate results

Twurdy with Pop - searches using Twurdy's most complex algorithm which includes looking up the popularity of words within the text. It has a slower speed with more accurate results

9. Google Scholar is one of Google's lesser-known tools. Google Scholar is a search engine designed to search scholarly journals, Supreme Court records, and patent records. In some cases the results will link to abstracts of books and articles that you will then have to obtain from a library or book retailer. In other cases results will link to fully viewable documents.

10. Google, Bing, and Yahoo haven't indexed everything. There is still a lot of valuable content that is in databases like CQ Researcher that are accessible only to subscribers. Your school library or local public library probably has a subscription to one or more of those services. If you're not sure how to access or use one of those databases, your teacher-librarian is probably more than happy to teach you how.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Find Creative Commons Images on Yahoo Search

Yahoo has introduced a new option for finding Creative Commons licensed images. Now when you search for images using Yahoo's image search tool, you can select filters to refine results to show only images that are licensed under Creative Commons. The filters allow you to select filters for images that can be used for commercial purposes or images that are licensed for remixing and building upon. The screenshot below shows the filters I selected when searching for images of the Eiffel Tower.

Applications for Education
Yahoo's Creative Commons image search filter is one of the easiest-to-use Creative Commons search tools that I've tried. Yahoo's search filters make it easy for students to quickly find images that they can use in all kinds of digital presentations.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Copyright for Educators
Creative Commons Explanations and Teaching Materials
Compfight - Creative Commons Image Search

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Zoho Feature - Sign-in with Google or Yahoo ID

Zoho, a superb online productivity suite that I've discussed a number of times, has added a new sign-in feature. As announced today on Zoho's product blog, Zoho users can now sign-in using their Google or Yahoo ID.

Applications for Education
One of the problems of having students use online services is making sure they all remember their passwords and usernames. Zoho's integration of Google and Yahoo ID means that students have one less set of usernames and passwords to remember. This means that students will be able to use Google's productivity suite and Zoho's productivity suite with the same username and password. My students are currently working on an assignment in which they are writing a travel narrative and creating an accompanying slide show. Some of my students have found that they prefer Google Docs for writing and Zoho Show for presentations. Now they can toggle between the two applications easier than before. (For my students' sake I just wish Zoho had done this about a month earlier).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yahoo Search Gets a Little Bit Safer

Search results on Yahoo just got a little bit safer. According to Tech Crunch and other sources, Yahoo has partnered with McAfee to create malware warnings for sites returned on Yahoo searches. Websites that contain malware or are suspected of containing malware are now accompanied by a warning when they appear in search results.

Below is an image of what the warning looks like.

The top of that search results page looks like this.

Applications for Education
This free service from Yahoo and McAfee makes it a little bit easier to protect school computers and school networks from malicious viruses. Many schools have a firm "no download" policies to protect their networks, but malware and spyware can be picked up without downloading software. This service is just one more way to prevent acquiring malware and spyware. The only problem I see to this is that you have to use the Yahoo search engine to take advantage of the warnings.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Yahoo Plans to Join Educator 2.0 Community

Yahoo is launching a network for teachers called, fittingly although not creatively, Yahoo Teachers. Like other professional networking websites, Yahoo Teachers aims to connect teachers around the world. The hope and idea is basically a teachers helping teachers concept. When fully launched Yahoo Teachers will allow teachers to find, build, and share lesson plans. The feature that will be particularly appealing to a lot of teachers, is the ease with which one can include state standards into a lesson plan. It appears from Yahoo's video that Yahoo Teachers will adjust to include the state standards for each state based on a user's profile. Overall, the Yahoo Teachers network appears to be well thought out. Whether or not Yahoo is coming to the Education 2.0 community too late remains to be seen. For teachers interested in other professional development networks, Classroom 2.0 and Apple's Learning Interchange among many others are established communities worth visiting.

Here is Yahoo's introduction to Yahoo Teachers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Bill Gates Reminds Us That It's About People

Earlier this week in an interview with CNET News Bill Gates spoke about Microsoft's bid to take over Yahoo. As an educator what I found interesting was Gates's statement about the value of Yahoo being the staff of Yahoo engineers not Yahoo's current technologies, market share, or list of advertisers. Click here to read the full transcript of the interview.

Application for Educators
Gates reminds us that technology is very useful, but the people developing and using technology are what is really important. Gates is not interested in buying Yahoo for its current technologies instead he is after what has not yet been developed. Preparing students to be innovators and developers is an important aspect of our jobs as educators. Yes, we need to teach students to use and understand what is already available, but we also need to teach them to think outside the box.

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