Fine Tune Your Google Research Skills

Google Think you know how to use Google?  Most students and teachers would say yes, but you might want to read this article from eschoolnews.com before you answer.
 

"Did he seriously just ask that? How old is this guy?” Well yes, I recently seriously just asked a group of students if they knew how to search Google. And yes, the students got a good laugh from my question.

“Of course I know how to use Google,” I have been told by every student to whom I have asked the question.

“Really? Let’s see. This won’t take long,” I promise.

The truth is that every student can use Google on some level. What is interesting to me is that when I interview students about their search strategies and I ask them if they have ever asked their teachers for help with a search the answer is almost always, “No”. What if our students are overconfident about their search skills?

If you watch your students use Google you will probably observe that most begin their search by simply typing the title of the assignment verbatim into Google (i.e., Iranian Hostage Crisis). They do this partly because this technique can yield satisfying answers to basic questions, and because in many cases they haven’t been explicitly taught to do anything else. It is the easy way out that does not require much in the way of critical thinking.

After their results pop up, most students will look only at the first screen of results, believing that those top hits contain everything they will need to complete their assignment. In many ways, this response is natural — it’s quick and easy. If they do not find what they are looking for within three tries they will likely give up and assume that Google cannot fulfill their request.

But what happens when a meaningful search requires more thinking than simply typing in the assignment?

 The internet presents our students with the significant challenge of learning how to access and synthesize massive amounts of information from all over the world. To manage overwhelming amounts of information, it is critical to learn how to design searches that take you past the first page of results. The quality of information can lead to a over simplification of an issue or lead to a much deeper understanding of the nuances of a topic.

In today’s global economy, global empathy is one of the most critical skills we must teach our students. To this end, utilizing the internet strategically can lead students to understand other cultures and viewpoints and spark authentic learning experiences. While the internet provides us with the opportunity to explore issues from multiple perspectives and exposes our simplified narratives, the reality of how Google targets basic search often leads to localized results.

The irony of having access to thousands of channels of information is that many of our students seem satisfied when they find the most visually accessible version of the truth. Students must be educated to ask themselves, “How can I design a search or series of searches that yields the highest quality results? As educators, we must equip our students with the skills and strategies to help them develop sophisticated search strategies that will enable them to engage in critical analysis.

Let’s take a look at a detailed example assignment, “the Iranian Hostage Crisis.”

If you key in “Iranian Hostage Crisis” in Google, and you are in North America, your search in the top screen will yield no sources from Iran, despite the fact that this was where the event took place. Prior to the rise of the internet, omitting Iranian sources may have been completely acceptable and practical in a school setting. There simply were no sources from Iran in the average well-stocked school or town library.

When I challenge students to redesign their search to yield sources from Iran, they usually add the words “Iranian sources” into the search bar. Sadly, this will also lead to zero content from Iran’s perspective, and students will continue to be flooded with results detailing a Western version of the event.

Whenever students are researching a problem that involves another country, they should make use of “country codes” and/or use  advanced Google searches to limit their search to a particular country. (A list of country codes can be found here. “IR” is the two letter country code for Iran. If students want the shortcut to generate Iranian sources, they can type “site:ir” into the search and the results will be from Iran. (“Site:” is a Google operator that limits results to content in the extension portion of a web address.)

While getting to Iran is just a matter of looking up the two-letter country code and understanding the Google operator “site,” the creative part of the search is imagining the Iranian perspective. Essentially all students will type: “site:ir Iranian hostage crisis” after they are taught to limit their search to Iran. At that point, students must be challenged to question their perspective and possible biases: “Do you think the Iranians called this event the Iranian Hostage Crisis?”

This is where Wikipedia can be quite useful. With a quick scan of the Wikipedia article about the Iranian Hostage Crisis, students learn that in Iran the event is known as “The Conquest of the American Spy Den.” (Many teachers decry the use of Wikipedia as an authoritative source, and it is true that consulting Wikipedia alone does not represent a comprehensive search strategy. However, Wikipedia may be used to expose researchers to content that can lead students to refine their search.)

Now that we have sorted out the mechanics of accessing the Iranian sources and perspectives, here is the revised Google search:

site:IR Conquest of the American Spy Den

Using this new search, students are presented with an entirely new set of sources, all from Iran. But why stop there? How do we know these sources are credible? What if we could isolate our search to sources from Iranian universities? To access this type of refined search, students can search:

site:ac.ir Chronology of Conquest of the American Spy Den
*The addition of “ac” indicates an institution of higher education, much like “.edu” does for American universities.

Students will notice that this new search has no resemblance to their first, and that the information contained in this latest search offers a vastly different account of the American-named “Iranian Hostage Crisis.” Using this new search, students are empowered to access a perspective they may not otherwise have considered. Students have now used Google to gain a perspective than they previously imagined was possible.

When confronted with examples of using the advanced features of Google, the students who previously laughed at the question, “Do you know how to use Google?” are stunned, and in some cases even embarrassed or mad. They wonder why they have never been taught how to perform this type of search. They often are quick to ask: “What else don’t I know?”

 

Presenting with the Socrative App

Students Present With the Socrative App

Tech Integration


Teacher Geels 10 Most Engaging Uses of Tech Integration
 
"Educators know that "tech" is not synonymous with engagement.  But how do we recognize an engaging use of edtech when we see it?  Most of us hardly have enough time to fully integrate the tools we want into our curricula, so measuring the relative success of one method over another  is usually out of the question.  That's where a little research can help.  Want to know whether or not to try VoiceThread with your students?  Someone has probably tested it already, and you can look over the data with a quick Google search..."
 
 
 
 

 

Phishing Scams

From the Edgewave Security Blog:
 
We are our own worst Cyber Enemy: 3 Simple Rules to Avoid Being a Cyber Victim

Many employees practice poor cyber hygiene and have bad habits when it comes to using the internet.  But to be fair, some fall victim to hackers who use clever tricks to influence bad decisions.  The security industry characterizes these tricks as “social engineering.”

So you may be asking, how do I defend against social engineering?  Well, there are a lot of things we can do but there are three things that everyone can do immediately make ourselves less vulnerable to these types of attacks.  All three are related to email, the most popular attack vector among hackers.

First and foremost, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMAIL! My First Law of Cyber Security clearly states that “it isn’t a question of if your network will be hacked, but when.”  The same principle applies to social engineering.  So here are the rules:

  1. Rule #1:  Think before clicking! Never click on a link embedded in an email regardless of your perceived familiarity with the sender.  If you need to access the web page associated with an embedded hyperlink, copy it and paste it into your browser window.
  2. Rule #2:  Trust your gut!  If you see an email in your inbox that appears unfamiliar or suspicious, forward it to your IT person, or delete it.  Even if your company has a high end email security system to stop the majority of emails as malicious before they get to your inbox, remember, the First Law says that some malicious emails will get through.
  3. Rule #3:  Do not use “preview” pane in your email program! Hackers figured out a while ago how to execute malicious code when the email in which the code is embedded is opened.  Using the Preview pane could have the same effect as you opening an email.  This effectively eliminates your ability to NOT open suspicious or unfamiliar emails…see Rule #2.

Example of a phishing email:

iTunes Phishing Scam
 

Follow Me on Twitter

How secure is your password?

To find out how easily it could be cracked, and for tips to make it more secure:
 
 

Must Have Tech Products

Do you have a case of Shiny New Object Syndrome?
Or maybe you're looking for a gift for the tech fan in your life? 
Try one of these cool items!

 
 
Monster Digital Super Speed Flash Drive - Available in 16, 32, 64, and 128GB.
More Information

monster flash drive
 
 
CanaKit Rasberry Pi 2 Starter Kit
More Information
 
Rasberry Pi  
 
 
SKEYE Mini Drone with HD Camera
Drone  
 
 

Apple TV and AirPlay

Voice of the Active Learner

Assistive Technology News

"Getting Started - Whether low-tech, high-tech, or somewhere in between, assistive technology and related services play an important role in reducing barriers to learning for students with a variety of special needs and challenges. Parents and educators can work together to examine the role technology can play in helping young people build independence."

Resources for educators and parents, including tips and tools:

Assistive Technology - Simply Said

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy and the SAMR Model of Integration

SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the  model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology. The goal is to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students.
 
SAMR
 
Bloom’s Taxonomy, developed in the 1950’s, expresses thinking and learning through a set of concepts that begin with lower order thinking skills (LOTS) and build to higher order thinking skills (HOTS). The initial phraseology of Bloom’s Taxonomy had six levels, beginning with knowledge at the lowest, then progressing through comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.In 2007, Bloom's Taxonomy was refined and Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, aligned with 21st century learning, was created.
 
 
Bloom
 


 

FAQs

  • Autocorrect on my iPhone is driving me crazy! How can I better control it?

    Posted by:

    The easiest way around autocorrect is to turn it off completely.  To do this, go to Settings > Keyboard > Auto-Correction and turn the slider to the off position.

    Another option is to leave autocorrect on (it does have its benefits), but improve its functionality.  You can do this by rebooting your keyboard's dictionary.  To do this, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Keyboard Dictionary.  This will clear any incorrect words that were accidentally saved words to your dictionary.

    Training Autocorrect - you can train it by typing a word several times in a native app, like Notes.  That word will eventually be added to autocorrect's suggestions.

    Autocorrect by design does not interfere with names that exist in the First, Last or Company fields of your contacts.  So, if you have a word that you use often you can always add it to a contact card.

    For words or phrases you use most often, create a shortcut in your settings.  To do this, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Shortcut.  add the word to the Phrase field, leaving the Shortcut field blank, and press Save.  For example, if you often type "on my way" in your messages, create a shortcut for ONM.  You can also create shortcuts for your email address and other often used phrases.

    Predictive Text is a great feature, and the more you use it the better it gets at predicting what you are going to type.  You can turn this off in your Settings as well.  A simple way to turn it off is to hold down the Emoji key.  The slider will pop up to turn off the Predictive keyboard.

    Comments (-1)
CLOSE