23 July 2012

Power Searching with Google (Part 2)

Well, I had lots of fun on the Google Power Searching course and, even though I already knew a lot of the tools and features, it was still worth doing.  Why?  Well, it wasn't only about learning about the search tools, it was also about learning how to use them in ways you might not have thought about before.  
Google are going to put the course videos on Youtube but they're not there yet.  In the meantime, if you want to see some of the goodies on offer, have a look at www.google.com/insidesearch.  Most of the features are listed there - and there are lots of them.
I found almost everything could be useful for English teachers so trying to decide the most useful isn't easy.  Anyway, these are probably the most useful to get started.  Do you agree?


Content Type

On the left side of the search results page you can choose the type of content you want to search.  Useful for comparing genre, style and formatting with students, or if you're looking for a specific text type.  Also click on more and the more menu at the top of the screen for even more options.


Image Search
Search  by colour, similarity, size and type.  Drag a picture into the search box and click on the little camera in the search box (on the right) to find out more information about the image, and similar images.  Scroll down to see more options for searching on the right side of the screen, such as searching by colour.  Wow!! 


Dictionary
Use the search box as a dictionary - type define word to find definitions of words in some of the best dictionaries on the web.  You can get similar searches by typing in synonym or antonym, etc.


Calculator
Type your calculations directly into the search box.  Great for working out exam results!


Operators
There are lots of operators but here are some of those that I find most useful to narrow searches.  Use all of these in the search box.  My favourites are:
  • filetype:xxx - if you're looking for a pdf file, type "pdf" immediately after the colon and then your search term (ie.  filetype:pdf learner autonomy will return only pdf files about learner autonomy).
  • site:xxx - will search only on a specified site (ie.site:cambridgeesol.org fce handbook will only search the Cambridge website)
  • -xxxx - the minus (-) operator excludes words or sites containing the word (e.g. pet -animals will exclude all searches with animals in the website and direct you to the Cambridge website)
  • OR - useful when there is more than one word to describe what you are looking for (e.g. xxxx study OR research).
  • "xxx" (quotes) - use quotes to find the exact phrase or phrases in a website.
So you can see how these can have a huge impact on the time you spend searching for resources and materials!

Specific words on a website
Use Control F to search for specific words on a website.  This can save you lots of time reading the website looking for information.

Time Parameters

Click on show search tools in the left column to choose a date range.  Very useful for finding recent and topical articles, videos and other materials.  Combine this with content type for an even quicker search!

In addition to the above, and not covered in the course, there are two more very useful search features that I use a lot.  These are:

Reading Level
Click on show search tools in the left column, scroll down to all results and choose reading level.  This is useful for finding easier texts for language learners.

Usage Rights (Copyright)
Click on the Options button (top right of screen), choose advanced settings and scroll down to the bottom to usage rights.  This is especially useful if you're looking for images or texts that are free to use.  An alternative to this (which I often find more useful) is to go to creativecommons.org and create searches through this website.

This is a very brief taster of what you can do with the features and tools and as I've already mentioned there's more information on Google's  Inside Search website. Don't forget  A Google a Day - a daily search challenge - that'll help you hone your search skills.  

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