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Class 2 of Google Power Search!

I’m a little behind with everything I wanted to get done this week because we’re doing a stocktake at one of our sites; this means an inordinate amount of scanning every single book whilst getting covered in more dust than you can really imagine. And I thought our library was actually fairly clean!

So class 2 of Google Power Search! The whole class is about interpreting results and understanding what you’re looking at. Activity one looks at predictive searches and the suggestions Google makes to try and make your life easier (although that’s not always really the case!)

Activity Two appears to be explaining the importance of expressing your idea in a comprehensible manner, i.e. keywords! I have such trouble trying to communicate this stage to students so this might be quite interesting. They’re incorporating their dictionary within the process of the search which could be useful, although I find it might be a bit clunky and break the search flow slightly. I haven’t really used this function much – I usually head towards  OED for definitions, but the trick of clicking ‘more info’ and being able to translate it in to numerous languages seems really interesting. The definitions are sourced directly from the web which gives it rather an advantage over conventional dictionaries as words can change meaning and evolve quite rapidly. This helps incorporate newer meanings more immediately, and of course means words that wouldn’t be included in a formal dictionary can be found.

Lesson 3 is concerning narrowing results by different media. This will be a useful refresher actually, as I’m in the process of redeveloping the research skills sessions I’ll be delivering to Media students. The key idea here is considering Google’s suggestions for you – an example given is using Images to look for CVs; not an obvious choice to make but it gives examples of peoples CVs and could prove quite useful. So really this lesson is concerned with giving consideration to the other options available.

Lesson 4 is all about reading the results page. Ideas such as using the preview in order to quickly assess the usefulness of a web page, that sort of thing. Interesting point made in this that I’m not sure I’ve articulated to students quite so coherently before; “searching is not just about doing a simple query and getting a simple answer, it’s often about doing research.” Whilst that’s obvious to most, perhaps stating it so clearly is a good way to try to get the students to understand what I’m trying to show them.

Lesson five, the final lesson of class 2! This one appears to be discussing Google Scholar which may prove useful! I’ve always been fairly reluctant to use Google for scholarly information if it’s avoidable, but I know students are quite the opposite so perhaps it’s something I need to learn how to embrace. But before there’s much information about it, there’s a quick overview of what else there is to offer from the ‘more’ section. These could be useful in terms of searching for blogs on particular topics, or discussion forums. (There’s also a recipes section I had no idea about!) The 3D warehouse will prove interesting I’m sure. I’m wondering the best way to incorporate all of this information! It’s proving to be a useful course even though it’s mostly stuff I already know – it’s a good refresher course! I wonder how useful it is to people who don’t have any idea about google at all? Of course it’s all very USA focused so that would prove to be an issue for some – when looking for legal documents for instance!

And that’s the conclusion of Class 2. Quite interesting, food for thought more than anything. I’m really looking at this as a means to improving my delivery of research skills sessions. At the moment I tend to focus on what our library offers that we’ve subscribed to, and the more obscure sites they may not be aware of, but I suspect if I include more references to Google they may ultimately find it more useful. It’s a challenge!