Gas station without pumps

2012 May 9

Google search education

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:31
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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.



  1. Thank you for taking the time to read some of the search education lessons and provide your feedback. The lessons, which were written primarily for a K-12 educational environment, are indeed intended to support educators who want to help their students become better searchers (search, of course, being only one component of the research process), whether or not they have had prior training in search themselves.

    As you requested, you can see time-stamped notes on the content of most of the webinars here:
    Under each recording, see the “Full presentation notes” link.

    I would be delighted to see what you do teach your seniors and grad students, if you would be interested in letting me know at search-educators [at] google [dot] com or posting links here. I agree that your university librarian is precisely the person to be providing the type of sophisticated, subject-specific classes needed at that level. Besides creating lesson plans, my team is here to support academic librarians with questions about Google tools they might use in those circumstances, since librarians have many experienced-based questions about how Google is functioning in response to their scholarly queries. Feedback, questions, and our understanding of where educators want their students to be at each step of their education are all critical parts of improving our materials over time, and hopefully helping to educate students to be thoughtful and successful when they reach the point of engaging in deeper scholarly research.

    Comment by Tasha Bergson-Michelson, MLIS — 2012 May 14 @ 14:17 | Reply

  2. […] recently posted about Google’s attempt to teach searching skills. Now Google is gamifying their “Google a Day” search challenges, in an attempt to […]

    Pingback by Google a Day now on Google+ « Gas station without pumps — 2012 May 14 @ 15:32 | Reply

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