I should probably have added this post before the last one, but if you want to learn some quick and easy ways to speed up your searching (and that of your students too) using Google, but also when looking for a piece of text in a long, scrolling webpage then look no further than Class 3 of the Power Searching with Google online course.
Here’s what’s involved in Class 3 – Advanced techniques
Lesson 1: Web organization followed by an Activity
Lesson 2: Filetype followed by an Activity
Lesson 3: Removing invasive results followed by an Activity
Lesson 4: OR and quotes followed by an Activity
Lesson 5: intext: and Advanced Search
Lesson 1 involves using the “site:” operator:
In this you can search just a single site for the information you are looking for, rather than the whole web. To do it type in “what you’re looking for” followed by a “space”, followed by” site:” immnediately followed by a “.” and then by the site name you’re looking for, say “rte.ie”
Here’s how it should look: sunshine site:.rte.ie
This pulls up all of the info relating to sunshine that appears on the rte.ie website. I tried to pick a term that wouldn’t pull up too many results in Ireland.
Lesson 2 shows how to search for a particular type of file using “filetype”
This can make finding a pdf, jpg or a good old gif file all the easier as you can tell Google to only look for files of those types.
Here’s how it should look: sunshine filetype:pdf
This will search for all .pdf documents on the web that are about sunshine. When typing it though, you don’t add in the usual dot in front of the pdf part. The great thing is that it can also be combined with the “site” search operator so that you can narrow your search completely to a filetype within a site only.
Interestingly, when I combined both operators into this search -> sunshine site:.rte.ie filetype:pdf the second result was a classroom resource for wet days.
Lesson 3 was all about using the “-” (minus) sign:
By adding this into a search query in Google, you can exclude certain types of information. This also helps to narrow down your search results.
It looks like this: sunshine -rain
You cannot have a space between the minus and the term you want to exclude for it to work though. Yes, you guessed it – you can combine it with the others too. Here’s an example -> sunshine site:.rte.ie filetype:pdf -rain
Lesson 4 looked at using “OR” and using quotes:
Last one first, you can use the double quotes to tell Google to keep the words of a phrase together when it searches. This means that if you look for “If at first you don’t succeed” within quotes, Google will search for al of those words together and you’ve a much better chance of learning more about it from the results of the search. Without the quotes and Google does its best but it is also looking for the individual words too. This results in an interesting but much less focused set of results. Try it to see what I mean.
The use of “OR” helps you to direct Google into looking for a combination of possible results. For example, if you, know a term you want to search for you can express it in a few different ways in order to try to locate the information you’re after:
It could look like this: sunshine or sunny or warm
Lesson 5 was all about using the “intext:” operator:
This is a great way to find what you’re looking for, not just through a Google search, but also to find the exact phrase you’re after in a set of results too. It works really well when combined with the “site:” operator too.
Here’s an example: site:.rte.ie intext:sunshine
The use of Google advanced search options was also mentioned in this lesson.
It’s a long post (and thanks for sticking with it) but the final lesson that would be good to look in to is Lesson 5 (the very first part) which helps you not to find information, but to think about the facts and just how believeable the results might be. This is an important skill for all who search the web and I think it’s a key skill that teachers need to show and model for their students.
OK, a quick summary there of the main areas of the Google course that I feel you could use with your students to help them to search better without having to go through the whole course. Saying that, it is a great course and I’m off to practice my searching techniques with the new skills I’ve learned from it. If you want to do the course, click here. The course is also available as a selection of pdfs and slides through the “Text version” button in the top right corner of each page.
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