Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How To Improve Your Open Source Search Skills -- One Day At A Time!

If you scratch the surface of the web you will find a ton of articles, websites and videos about how to search for information more efficiently.

Not that this makes any difference.

Students, according to the Project For Information Literacy, "while curious in the beginning stages of research, employed a consistent and predictable research strategy for finding information, whether they were conducting course-related or everyday life research." The report goes on to say, "Almost all students used course readings and Google first for course-related research and Google and Wikipedia for everyday life research."

There are a number of reasons to be worried about this. Many people tend to focus on the over-reliance on Google as the search engine of first resort. While some of that logic is true (for an interesting and illuminating experiment that makes the point, I recommend this site...), I find the inability to use even Google very well to be one of my largest concerns. I mean, if you are going to rely only on Google, you ought to be incredibly good at finding stuff with it.

The best way, in my mind, to get good at finding stuff with Google is to practice doing it and Google apparently feels the same way. The Wizards of Mountain View are now offering a game that is designed to use "your creativity and clever search skills". The premise is simple. They ask a question and then you use Google to find the answer. The game is called "Google a Day". You can try today's challenge below:

I can easily imagine this as an icebreaker in a computer equipped classroom or as a homework or extra credit assignment. Leave your own ideas in the comments!

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