I am frequently amazed at teachers and researchers asking on mailing lists or forums for information that can be found in a minute or two using a search engine like Google. (When the examples are really egregious, I sometimes use the Let Me Google That For You web site to provide a link to the answer.)
Google has also noticed that many of their users are clueless about search, and are trying to educate people to be better searchers. (My cynical side suggests that their motive is to make it easier to provide high-paying ads, rather than actually making searching more effective.)
In any case, they have created a web site for teachers: Search Education. There are 15 lesson plans in a 3 × 5 grid: beginning, intermediate, advanced levels of 5 topics:
- Picking the right search terms
- Understanding search results
- Narrowing a search to get the best results
- Searching for evidence for research tasks
- Evaluating credibility of sources
I’ve only looked at one or two of the lesson plans, and they seem overly scripted to me, but I suppose that some teachers would find them useful for improving their own search skills and for improving the search skills of the students. The “advanced” lessons look to me to be about 10th-grade level, and the “beginner” ones about 7th grade, but I’m not a very good judge of grade levels—the lessons could probably be adapted to anywhere from 5th grade to college freshmen.
The advanced lessons are not nearly as sophisticated and subject-specific as the library information sessions I get for my seniors and grad students each year. If you are looking for more advanced lessons than these, I suggest talking with a university librarian.
The search education page also has links to a number of recordings of webinars (currently 14). I don’t have the patience to listen to them to see if they are any good. Webinars, podcasts, and videos of lectures are such a slow mode of information transmission that it is rare that I sit through one—I wish they had transcripts or written tutorials that I could skim through. If anyone does have the patience for recorded webinars, leave a comment here about the quality and usefulness of these Google search webinars.