Wednesday, July 28, 2021

How to Refine DuckDuckGo Search Results

DuckDuckGo is becoming a popular alternative to conducting searches on The reason for that popularity is a reflection of DuckDuckGo's claim to not track search habits of individual users. While it is a good search engine, it still has a way to go to compete head-to-head with Google's advanced search options. That said, there are some advanced search refinement tools available in DuckDuckGo. 

In this short video I provide a demonstration of how to refine search results on DuckDuckGo. The video includes a demonstration of how to use a couple of "hidden" options that aren't obvious to most students. Those options are refining search results according to top-level domain and refining search results according to file type. 

Why You Should Refine Search Results by Language, Region, and Date

Google’s Advanced Search menu offers more than just tools for refining your search terms. In the Advanced Search menu you’ll find tools for refining search results according to language, region of publication, recency of updates, site or domain, filetype, usage rights, where search terms appear, and exclusion of explicit results. Some of those filters and why you’d use them are easy to ascertain from their names. The reason for using some of the other filters isn’t so obvious.

Narrowing search results by language of publication is helpful for the obvious reason of finding information in the language of your choice. It’s also helpful to narrow search results by language when researching a topic that originated in a language other than your own native tongue. Likewise, if the topic is widely written about by scholars who write in a language other than your own, narrowing a search to that language may lead you to more resources than if you limited yourself to content published in your preferred language. For example, if I'm researching a topic in Japanese history, after reading as much as I can in English I may narrow my search to content published in Japanese. But how do I do that if I can’t read or speak Japanese? Fortunately, modern web browsers including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have translation tools built into them. Of course, those translation tools aren’t without flaws but nonetheless they do open up a comparatively new world of research options.

Refining search results according to the region of publication is useful for many of the same reasons as refining search results according to language of publication. Additionally, viewing search results according to the region of publication is useful when evaluating perspectives on a historical event. Particularly divisive geopolitical events are often written about in distinctly different ways depending upon who is doing the writing, where they live, and their political alliances. Looking at these differences is good for developing a balanced understanding of events.

The option to refine search results according to the last update is obviously helpful when searching for the latest published information about a trending news topic. It’s also helpful when trying to locate webpages that were published during a specific range of dates. A good use case for this is to search for information that was published about an event as it was happening or immediately after it. Then compare that information to more recent information published about the same event. For example, students conducting research about the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001 can refine their search results to pages published or updated September 11, 2001 through December 31, 2001 then compare those results to that of search not refined by date of publication.

It should be noted that refining Google search results according to date of update or publication is not always accurate. One of the reasons for that is some website owners will manipulate the content of their pages to make it appear that their sites have been updated even though nothing has materially changed on the site. To get a better picture of what was published on a particular website on a given day, try using The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine contains archived versions of websites. Large, popular websites like are archived more frequently than smaller websites. You can learn how to use The Wayback Machine by watching this short video. A screen image of what looked like on September 11, 2001 as archived by The Wayback Machine is included below.

This blog post was written by Richard Byrne and originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Free Music for Classroom Projects

Creating multimedia projects like videos, podcasts, and audio slideshows is a great way for students to develop a variety of skills. Some of those skills are technical skills while others are soft skills that they can carry over into all aspects of academic life. Those soft skills include respecting the intellectual property of others. That's why when students create multimedia projects they should try to use media of their own creation, media in the public domain, or media that has a Creative Commons license. Finding images that meet that criteria is easy. Finding audio that fits that criteria is a bit of a challenge for some. That's why I've put together a new video that highlights my three go-to places to find free audio that students can use in their multimedia projects. 

In this short video I provide an overview of how to find and download free music from Pixabay, Dig CC Mixter, and Bensound. 

Pixabay's audio collection features instrumental recordings across a wide range of genres. You can listen to the tracks in their entirety before downloading them. Like all other media on Pixabay, you can download and reuse the sound tracks for free. And as they state in the terms of use, you don't have to cite them but it is appreciated.

Dig CC Mixter offers thousands of songs that are Creative Commons licensed. The site is divided into three main categories. Those categories are Instrumental Music for Film & Video, Free Music for Commercial Projects, and Music for Video Games. Within each category you can search according to genre, instrument, and style. When you click the download icon on a file you will be prompted to copy the attribution information that is required to include in your project.

Bensound offers a few hundred music tracks that you can download for free. Those tracks are arranged in eight categories. Those categories are acoustic/folk, cinematic, corporate/pop, electronica, urban/groove, jazz, rock, and world. You can listen to the tracks before you download them. When you click the download button you will see the clear rules about using the music. You can download and use the music in your video projects for free provided that you credit Bensound for the music. Alternatively, you can purchase a license to use the music wherever you want without crediting Bensound.

Join Me Next Monday!

The August session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp begins next Monday at 10am ET. If you haven't registered, you can do so up until an hour before it starts. 

In the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp I'll cover ten key topics over the course of ten live webinars (recordings will also be available). There's time for live Q&A as well. This is a great opportunity to get some new ideas to implement this fall. 

These are the topics for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp:
  • Teaching Search Strategies & Digital Citizenship
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Classroom Podcasting 101
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Fun Formative Assessment Methods
  • Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Easy Ways to Make Your Own Apps
  • Simple and Fun Makerspaces Projects
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register online or email me to register your group of five or more. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

How Excluding Words Helps Narrow the Scope of a Search

One of the options in Google's Advanced Search menu is to exclude specific words from search results. At first, excluding words from search results might seem counterintuitive to learning as much as possible about a chosen research topic. After all, reading extensively about a topic is the best way to learn about it. However, there comes a point in the research process that we realize there are certain terms or names that are no longer germane to our research but still frequently appear when researching our chosen topic.

Researching Harry Lyon’s car provides an instructive example of the benefit of excluding words from Google search results. The prompt for that challenge is,
Everyone knows that Hannibal Hamlin (Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President) lived on Paris Hill in Maine. What you might not know is that Paris Hill was the home of another person who participated in a notable first.
The prompt itself tells us that we can probably eliminate mentions of Hannibal Hamlin from our search results. However, we don’t know that for sure until we’ve established that it was Harry Lyon we were looking for. Once we’ve done that, removing Hannibal Hamlin from our search results can narrow our search. However, the words that will turn out to be the most useful to eliminate are “Founders Day” and “Bob Bahre.”

Bob Bahre was a wealthy businessman who purchased the Hannibal Hamlin estate on Paris Hill in the early 1970s. Bahre was also a collector of expensive antique cars, many of which are pre-World War II vintage. Every year for the last 42 years Bahre’s family opened the collection to public viewing as part of a fundraiser for the local library. That fundraiser is known as Founders Day.

Google searches that mention “cars” and “Paris Hill” return plenty of articles about Founders Day, Bob Bahre, and his car collection. So when trying to determine what kind of car Harry Lyon was sitting in in this picture, “Bob Bahre” and “Founders Day” may seem relevant at first, but you’ll quickly find that it’s actually not helpful to find articles about Bahre, his car collection, or Founders Day.

By the way, this is a good article if you are interested in learning about Bahre and his car collection.