A teacher librarian's learning journey

Search engine features and quality August 24, 2012

Filed under: ETL501 Information Environment — Jennifer Baccon @ 12:18 am
  • Generally print resources or databases are easier to use than the web – structure oft created by TLs
  • Thus must have a firm understanding of databases
  • Apart from the catalog, search engines key tools in most libraries
  • Search engines are constantly changing and evolving – TLs need to be aware of new features
  • Notess excellent resource
  • Feature of search engine Boolean logic
  • No best – need to consider purpose in selection


Go to the Noodletools site select Software tools from the top menu bar, then Free Tools from the side menu bar, scroll down and click on Choose the best search for your information need. Select TWO search engines that you are not familiar with and do a search using the following terms:

volcanoes schools teaching

Assess the quality of your results e.g. how relevant were the first 10 results if you were finding information for a geography teacher in a secondary school?

Focussed on commencing an inquiry…

  • Started with category of “I need to define my topic…” and then “I need to understand the scope of my topic” in that my school’s approach is inquiry-based. The students initially need to explore the scope of the topic in considering what they want to find out more about and teachers/TLs need to think about this first up in helping resource inquiries.
  • Selected Infomine and entered all 3 terms as a phrase which resulted in only 6 results. Selected NASA teaching materials as it was searchable by narrow sets of school year levels. Ended with 5 NASA sites (appropriate for Years 5-8) although for some volcanoes were not really the focus of the info/activity but on looking deeper, could see how the sites suggested breadth to the inquiry.
  • I can really see the usefulness of this subcategory but need better search skills myself in finding more extensive resources in this rehearsal search.
  • “I need background on my topic” was selected next as the teacher and students would at least require a basic understanding of “volcanoes”. Selected Sweetsearch as it was noted for use by students. Interface quite simple and appealing.
  • Entering the words results in text matching in the subsequent listing – 100s of them (couldn’t establishing how many…kept on going page after page) I think organized by some combination of the frequency of each word in the phrase. Found some useful exploratory/interactive and lesson plan type sites which seemed pretty good in the first 10. Newspapers too reporting volcano activity were great here too I thought in lending a different conceptual slant. The 1st listing however, was unrelated and seemed to refer to Volcano charter school!
  • If thinking about using these in the first stage of an inquiry  could have considered first going to “I need a specific type of media…” and looked at an encyclopaedia to initially just get a simple understanding of the topic (would use school online subscriptions).
  • “I need to do research in a specific disciple…” probably the best as a starting point because it is so clearly science based and would meet the need to build some shared contextual knowledge…then to the scope of inquiry as the next information need…
  • Like the “I am…” category

This is an extremely useful tool with its focus on purpose. So helpful in providing lots of perspectives and resource types, and putting a topic under many conceptual lenses. I’ve got a bank of search engines available to the students in Elementary but the children have mainly evaluated and used these according to learning style as related to the nature of interaction with the engine. More refined learning for me needed about the ways different search engines suit varied information purposes in advising learners.


Using pp18-24 of the set text as your guide, examine some of the aspects of Google Advanced Search including:

  • advanced search and the normal advanced search;
  • searching by file type, or language; and
  • searching within a site or domain.

Then check out:

  • Google Images;
  • Google Maps;
  • Google Earth;
  • Google News;
  • Google Books; and
  • Google Scholar.

How much of this is new to you? Will this change the way you search in the future?

  • Am generally an advanced search user whatever I use but I don’t use much of it really!
  • Have glanced at options to search by these language, file or domain categories but have pretty much blanked them until now
  • More efficient searching for particular purposes should result…more tools to hone
  • Little familiar with all listed with the exception of News which from a cursory look is searchable and immediately engaging. Use Images a lot, Maps extensively personally, some experience using Google Earth with students (always need a refresher between as it changes) and have dabbled with Books and Scholar as a student myself.
  • Looking closer I can see all provide information for differing purposes for information seeking. I could use these further as a TL…make them more visible…
  • All Google products I find really easy to get a grip on…Simple and clean…


Visit the search engine compilation found at the LiveBinder called Knowledge 2.0

Browse through the information, and choose a new search engine to explore in detail. Test this out with a group of students and/or consider ways that this may alter a search strategy for a unit of work

  • Happy to see search engines we have available on our catalog listed nearly all here in “Search engines with a twist”
  • Embedded videos great too…

v  A couple of hints to remember: Use “ “ for phrases otherwise Google +s them. Use “-  “ to minus from a search

v  Bing provides company info that you mightn’t find on the website

v  “contains :” to search for pdfs/mp3s

v  Yahoo! gives more specific results than Google

v  Blindsearch and Bingle for comparisons of web searches

  • Liked the simplicity of Carrot Cluster which you set to provide Top 50, 100, 150, 200 results sorted by sub-topic. Again for exploring the scope of an inquiry field. (Like Yippy! I think)
  • Quite liked Duck, Duck Go too for sleekness and the suggested search suggestions – very helpful for honing down to what is actually needed or even taking it in an unthought-of direction…
  • The students really like Twurdy because of the colour coded leveling of readability
  • The like too the cuteness and clarity of Kids Rex
  • Need to really explore these with colleagues and the students in a collaborative way – can never individually get familiar with them all!
  • Engines designed specifically for children were my priority in acquiring for the library

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