“Google’ is not a synonym for ‘research’.”
― Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol
What do you know about Google? I acknowledge that the verb “to Google” is not a synonym for research but it does often help me to answer questions in life quickly. I use it daily and Google searching is a verb commonly used by students who go to this website to locate information. Can Google make yous smarter?
Learning has changed. There is a new push in education to “focus on the thinking skills and habits of mind that lead to greater understanding. This is the defining quality of an inquiry-based learning environment.” (Harada & Yoshina, 2004) In the past we relied on the knowledge of teachers and searched for information in encyclopedias as seen in this YouTube clip below..
Today we have access to unlimited data but we know how to find what we are needing efficiently? Google searching requires you to think critically about the hits that you receive.
As you can see below my initial search on Inquiry Learning brought up 62,200,000 hits in 0.19 seconds. But how many of these will be relevant? We usually just go to the first 10 or so.
As you can see my second quick Google search on Guided Inquiry was smaller but deciding on what information is relevant and important can be time consuming. This is where the role of critical literacy becomes a vital learning moment. Harada & Yoshina (2004) refer to the need to refine research questions, retrieving information, seeking more resources and importantly determining how useful these things are and how accurate the information is. The second search saw me locate all Australian associations (ASLA, SLAV etc) in comparison the first search was wider.
So why do we get these lists and how are these hits listed? Google interestingly uses a page rank system which was named after an American called Larry Page who is a computer scientist and internet entrepreneur. This picture illustrates this mathematical principal as the size of each face is proportional to the total faces pointing to it.
Harada & Yoshina (2004) posit that these information literacy skills are among the basic skills required for student success. The connectivism approach is fundamental in this interconnected multi-modal online world and becoming an information seeking expert has never been more important. Boolean operators are an empowering tool that will improve efficiency when doing any further information searches.
As you can see in the images below using these Boolean operators broaden or narrow the search. There are many symbols you can use to further refine your search. This important table has enabled me to better understand the difference between some operations.
When I used OR the search was selecting both forms of word usage across the world wide web accounting for the broadness of the search. In this search the discovery of Neil Stephenson’s Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning was timely as he makes reference to the ways digital technology has changed the way we use and share information and that deep constructivism is now achievable. Stephenson made reference to the Galileo Inquiry rubric, built around 8 elements of strong, inquiry-based practice.
Alternatively when using AND this search was narrowing as two items were to be included in this search.
Advanced Google searches give even more ways to have the information tailor-made to your needs such as key words, phrases, reading age and even location. This is a great way to refine the searching process for all learners. Using these tools and strategies alone will ensure that you are well on your way to becoming an expert searcher but are these articles scholarly and useful?
Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan. (2004). Chapter 1 : Identifying the inquiry-based school in Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan, Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships, Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, pp.1-10.