Google search tips

Google is probably everyone’s best friend. I don’t know how I lived without it. Lugging an encyclopedia off a shelf and thumbing through used to be a serious, important task, now I just Google. I never have to live in ignorance and I can always know. Google has a lot of built in functionality that you may not be aware of. It pays to keep up to date with their changes to help you find exactly what you need. Your results are as good as your search techniques. Distractify offers 32 great tips for Google searches. I am always using it to look up words, translate single words, dates and so I knew a lot of these. There were a number I didn’t know. Every time you add a new search function to your toolbox you will improve your ability to get what you want!

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Media Literacy

Don't bring me your problemsClassic classroom content override. I have now watched all the videos by Miguel Carrasco. I’ll write another post about that but meanwhile there is this one which came about because Miguel Carrasco was showing us how to get ideas for content and then popped onto someone’s Facebook page and there was the quote: “Don’t bring me your problems . Bring me two solutions.” . I was listening to Miguel Carrasco talking but my mind had gone off on a tangent because of that quote. It made me think of how I operated in a classroom with technology. It was standard practice for me to say to students:

“If you are having trouble, tell me what you have tried to do yourself and if you are still stuck, I’ll try and help you…or we’ll all try and help you. Have a go yourself first with your ideas. ”

When it came to research on anything I’d come into class with 20 minutes of teaching on good and helpful sites to get them started and on the right track and then we had the open invitation that if you had a good site too , you’d let me know and I’d put that into the list of resources on the LMS. Team effort on good research but as the teacher I shone the light on the path. Students also got into the habit of messaging me on the LMS to send me links at any time so I could add to those shared resources. Parents could enter that research arena because we blogged a lot of what we were doing. Based on their knowledge and experience they could come in with other information and links. It was always growing and pointing us in the right direction for good learning and reliable information.

Image: dreamstime

I  appliinformation supported the classroom tenet to myself. There were occasionally days where I had to walk in and say:

“I have tried to find some good examples of …. and I have looked here and I have looked there and the best I can do is this…”

I would go through my information and then we’d spend 10-15 minutes to see what the students could come up with that was better and then put that on the shared resources. Students had input into worthwhile content and reliable resources.

We learned from each other.

Dana Boyd has written a long and interesting article Did Media Literacy Backfire? It is worth the read because it looks at how we are bombarded with information and misinformation and how we may be trying to deal with that. On any given day everything is coming at us: news, fake news, distractions, red herrings, information and misinformation. We have to stay in control of that and we have to teach others how to stay in control of that. So we need to be coming at it from a solutions point of view and not a problems one. If we see it all as a problem we’ll collapse under the weight of what is headed in our direction. We need to step back and have a plan of how we deal with this and , in my book, networking and team effort wins.

Google searches

Google brains

Image: Is Google rewiring our brains? 

There is certainly evidence to suggest that using Google will in fact use more of your brain and encourage more thinking than just reading print. The more you become comfortable in searches the more you interact and stimulate more areas of your brain. Dr. Moody is clear to point out that we shouldn’t assume it is just Google because she wants to research more about this:

“Now there are two different schools of thought on this. One is that when you first learn a task, you require greater activity and more attention, and that one could expect higher levels of activity if you were new at something. People with expertise can actually show decreases in their functional MRI pattern of activity. But what it seems here is that while engaging in internet searching, you are still very actively engaging these decision-making areas and it might be that the naive people are overwhelmed by the situation and are just treating it like a book – you’re still not trying to integrate the information, they’re reading it as though they were reading a book.

There’s one other interpretation as well, and that is that internet-naive people just have a different pattern of wiring in their brains from those who are internet-savvy – people who prefer using the internet and enjoy that mode of reading are wired differently from the internet-naive people. And we can’t distinguish that in this study, but that is also a possibility.”

Is Google rewiring our Brains? 

There is also research going to to discover exactly what is happening with children and young adults who are always doing searches, playing games and living in a digital, interactive world. As Dr. Moody points out, rewiring the brain can sound alarming but it is, in fact how we learn.

Google searchI have certainly been developing my Google brains since the advent of the Adelaide storms last week and the electricity pylon collapses. Someone credible said we had pylon collapses in the 70s or early 80s. I cannot seem to find a reference. Google is set up to cover current and topical information first so with this search I had to put -Westgate because there are bridge pylons too. I had to put -Adelaide and -storms because we have had so much news and social media coverage from the storms and then I have had -Bougainville because there is so much to do with powers pylons there. I have found no reference to collapsed pylons before in Adelaide. It means I am using the wrong words. I put power pylons in inverted commas so that those words would be together. I can try electricity pylons in inverted commas. I have said before on this blog that one of the things I do is try and break Google. It’s just a game to see if I can baffle Google. The research about the pylons , though, is serious. I actually want to know the answer. It would have been on our news in the late 70s or early 80s so there has to be a reference? I have tried twisted pylons, collapsed pylons, damaged pylons. Nothing. What has been happening as I do it, though, is I am finding out about other things and how to improve my searches. It has been a real thinking exercise.

Do you know Quora?

quoraQuora is a crowd sourcing question-answer site. The world really is there to answer all your burning questions 24/7. You never ever have to live in ignorance. People who go on Quora can vote answers up or down. You can also start building a name for yourself and some status as an expert as you go along. Start with one or two topics and once you get the hang of it you can branch out. It is a site you need to know about because it is yet another social site for information. That is good and bad. It’s good if you are offering help and solutions. It is bad if someone is using that information to complete homework tasks or anything like that. Somehow , though, that kind of behaviour stands out on the Net and people can read something and just know it’s not genuine. That aside, Quora is a great site for sharing ideas and information and helping other people to get on the right track when they are stuck in their thinking or skills.

Use You Tube as a search engine

YouTube infographicIf YouTube were a country it would be the third largest in the world after India and China. It has a billion unique visitors a month and that probably explains why your YouTube clips are taking longer to upload. YouTube has to grow into its new self as second largest search engine on the planet. Some don’t think of using YouTube as a search engine. If I am looking for information I will look it up on Google and then YouTube. Doesn’t matter whether it’s information for my classroom or something to do with dog diseases and conditions. It could be recipes or a query about the benefits of magnesium. If I can’t do something I look it up on YouTube. I use YouTube all the time. It brings me knowledge, information, help and insight. It is often easier to look at a video clip of how to repair something than read pages of instructions. I am ever grateful to the thousands of people who make a video about how they solved a problem or the professionals who bring me information about knee exercises, the benefits of rebounding or how to draw a coffee cup. The infographic comes from mushroomwork networks and you can see a large copy of it on their site.

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