Searching Appropriately

| May 19, 2010

Searching for information on the internet, as a primary or secondary age student, can be overwhelming based on the amount of results as well as being able to distinguish what sources are valid. If teachers are looking to gain some comfort the sources their students are using for their work such search engine sites asSweetSearch and Study search may be helpful tools!

SweetSearch allows students to choose the most relevant result from a list of credible results, without the distraction of unreliable sites. SweetSearch searches only 35,000 Web sites that have been evaluated and approved by a staff of Internet research experts at Dulcinea Media, and its librarian and teacher consultants.

StudySearch is a Google project with Australian schools that uses safety filters to modify the search results presented customized Google search engine developed for Australian Primary and Secondary school students. It uses the power of Google’s search engine combined with a growing database of educational websites. When a search is done Google checks our database and gives those sites priority in the search results. The student is still doing a full Google search but the results are tuned to display sites that are more relevant. The sites are contributed by Australian teachers, librarians and site volunteers. These sites are selected based on their content and ease of navigation. Anyone is welcome to suggest a site by submitting a form from their website.

I wonder based on restrictions some school districts have with websites such as YouTube and Wikipedia, if this approach, may aid in allowing pieces of such content into schools. If schools sign up to accounts using modified search engines for educational content and have content approved by ‘experts’ or filtered based on predetermined conditions, could there be a way to have proxy sites that include relevant content from restricted sites if deemed useful?

Of course restricting a system and defining what educational content is can be problematic in trusting who is able to make decisions as experts. However, searching the internet as a resource of information for students is not going to go away and so defining more useful ways to do so will have educational impacts and offer development opportunities to create more focused information resource systems tailored to students.