Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vocabulary Lists Could Help Your Students Conduct Better Searches

As I mentioned in a video posted earlier today, I have been doing some research about how students search. Specifically, they're search habits and how those habits influence outcome of their searches. It's quite fascinating even if much of what I'm reading is rather dry data crunching.

One of the research reports that I read this morning was Characterizing the Influence ofDomain Expertise on Web Search Behavior (link opens PDF) written by White, Dumais, and Teevan at Microsoft Research. They found that domain experts (domain referring to subject matter) conducted searches with more branchiness than non-experts.
Branchiness is defined as "the number of re-visits to previous pages in the session that were then followed by a forward motion to a previously unvisited page in the session."
Furthermore, the search sessions of domain experts consistently include more pages, more queries, and more overall time.

The findings of White, Dumais, and Teevan were consistent with findings of previous researchers on the topic including Ingrid Hsieh-Yee who is cited by White, Dumais, and Teevan. In 1993 Ingrid Hsieh-Yee found that students used more of their own search terms and less of external suggestions when researching topics for which they had prior expert knowledge.

What's this mean for teachers and students?
It would be unfair to expect students to be "experts" before conducting a web search. However, it might be worth having students develop a bit more prior knowledge of a topic before turning them loose to search the web for information about that topic. This might be done through reading materials provided by the teacher. It might also be done through mastering some vocabulary terms before embarking on a search. Increased prior knowledge could lead students to have more branchiness is their search habits.

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #17

Yesterday afternoon I recorded a new episode of Practical Ed Tech Live. This is my (usually) weekly live stream in which I answer questions that were sent to me during the previous week. I also answer questions that are submitted on the fly. I'll host another episode next Tuesday afternoon. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when my broadcast goes live. Yesterday's episode is embedded below.

The text of the questions that I answered can be read in this Google Doc

How to Make a Blogger Blog Private

Recently, I received an email from a reader who had seen my comparison of classroom blogging tools and wanted to know more about how to make a Blogger blog private. I recorded the following video to illustrate how to set a Blogger blog as private.

About once a week I'm asked what I use to record my screencast videos. On my Windows 10 computer and on my Mac I use Screencast-o-matic. On a Chromebook I usually use Nimbus Screenshot.

A Handy Google Scholar Search Refinement Tool

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm working on book. I've been doing quite a bit of research for the book through Google Scholar. One of the things that I have been researching is studies on students' search behaviors. As this is topic that changes over time, I have been using the date refinement tool in Google Scholar. In the video embedded below I demonstrate and explain how to use the date refinement tool in Google Scholar.

My webinar Search Strategies Students Need to Know covers many search tools and methods.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hack the News With Mozilla's X-ray Goggles

Mozilla offers some great tools that can help students understand how webpages are created. Thimble is one of those tools that I have featured in the past. It offers many great activities for students to complete to learn how to build webpages including webpages with animations.

X-ray Goggles is another great tool that Mozilla makes to help students learn the code that powers much of what they see on the Web. X-ray Goggles is a free tool that lets you remix any page that you find on the Internet. (Note, it doesn't change the way others see the page, it only changes the way that you see it). To use X-ray Goggles you need to install it in your Chrome or Firefox bookmarks bar. Then you can launch it on any webpage. When you launch X-ray Goggles you will be able to select images and text on a page and then shown the code behind your selection. X-ray Goggles will let you then alter the code to display new things on that page.

Applications for Education
Mozilla offers a free lesson plan called Hack the News that introduces students to the features of X-ray Goggles. In the lesson students will remix a news story by putting their favorite fictional characters into the page on which the story is published.