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STEP 1: EXPLAIN DOMAINS

Type a few words in the Google.com search box, which most of your students have probably done many times. Type “World War II,” for example, and you will get hundreds of millions of search results. Point out that websites end in various domains including .com, .org, and .edu.

Many search results, particularly .com domains, could be someone’s blog or businesses selling World War II memorabilia. Then, explain the different domains. Here is an article that could help you, but you can find others out there that are similar.

STEP 2: SEARCH BEST DOMAINS

After explaining why some domains and some sources are more credible than others, it’s time to show students an excellent shortcut to narrow their search to more credible sources. Typing the word “site” in the search box followed by a colon and a domain after the topic you’re looking for accomplishes this.

So you would type “World War II site:edu” (typing capital letters isn’t necessary) to narrow your search to educational sources, and ”World War II site:gov” to narrow your search to governmental sources, etc. The “site” command is one of the best advanced search techniques for finding the best and most credible information.

STEP 3: SEARCH BEST WEBSITES

If your students are searching for information about current events, they might know what some of the best websites are such as nytimes.com. If they’re researching historical information, you might ask them to find out what the best websites are. For example, you might ask them to type “best World War II websites” or “World War II websites for students” in the Google search box. Next, instruct them to use the site command to find information from those websites, which would look like “World War II 

STEP 4: SEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIAS

Your students can find information from the most pertinent encyclopedias via the same process. Here is a list of encyclopedias that includes the best choices for specific topics. This is a good time to note that you should tell your students that scholarly encyclopedias are a better source than Wikipedia since it is written largely by non-scholars. Ultimately, one of the best uses of Wikipedia is for assistance with finding other credible sources.

STEP 5: BE MORE SPECIFIC

Students should use several credible sources if they are, for instance, writing a report about World War II. One way to do that is to use different sources for the causes of World War II, the effects of World War II, etc. Thus, searching for “causes of World War II” is preferable to simply searching “World War II”.

STEP 6: FIND SPECIFIC FACTS:

The asterisk (*) is another tool that helps students when using advanced search techniques to look for info on the Internet. If they’re looking for a fact such as a date, they will quickly learn that Google will fill in the blank with information that replaces the asterisk. Thus, typing “Hitler invaded Poland on *” will yield them the precise result.

They can also use Google search to find the answers to Math problems. Typing “456+456” will, again, yield them the proper answer. They can also use Google to find the definition of words by typing “define” and then the word they want to know about.

STEP 7: SEEK SPECIFIC RESULTS

Students might want to make sure that their World War II report includes information on U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. They can use the plus sign to accomplish this objective by typing “world war II +fdr” in the search box. Similarly, they can use the minus sign to exclude info from the search result such as “world war II-japan”. In addition, they can put quotes around a multi-word phrase if they want a specific search result. Typing the words “the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because” will yield only results with those specific words.

STEP 8: SEEK TIME-SPECIFIC INFO

This tip is particularly important in Science because information is constantly changing. Students who are writing about gene therapy might want to focus on what has been accomplished in the last year. They can do that by hitting “Tools” in the Google advanced search options after they type in “gene therapy” and then clicking on “Any time.” The drop-down list lets them select a recent time period.

STEP 9: USE OTHER SEARCH ENGINES

Google is the most popular search engine, but frequently people who are unsatisfied with Google search results use other search engines. They include search engines that are typically used to seek everyday information such as Bing and Yahoo and search engines that are typically used by scholars looking for academic research. For convenience, here is a list of popular search engines and a list of scholarly search engines.

STEP 10: PROVIDE LISTS OF TIPS

The above tips could be an excellent way for students to begin to improve their use of advanced search techniques on the Internet, but you probably want the students to continue teaching online research skills to themselves as well. Below are several resources that the students can consult to further improve their Internet skills.


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