Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Article excerpt

September 2014, Using Web Tools to Support Learning

Expanding Google in the Classroom

Google started out as just a search engine, but today it offers many more potentially transformative tools for the science classroom. Let's explore some of them.

Advanced Search

Results of the standard Google search are the most-visited websites with your search term--but not necessarily those that best meet your needs. Ad-based sites and Google partner sites also get prominent display, adding to the challenge of finding the most relevant and current information. But Google has provided a solution to this limitation: The Advanced Search (www.google.com/advanced_search) allows learners to filter search results with additional criteria, including reading level and how recently the page was updated.

Site: Search

You can also refine web searches with the Google Site: Search. It displays results only within desired site domains or web extensions (for example, -gov, .edu, .org, and .info). Let's search for a site on "plate tectonics." While a general search may pull up unauthoritative content, a Site: Search could restrict results to sites such as universities or government research labs. Simply add, for example, the words "site:.gov" or "site:, edu" in the search field after your search terms. In the above search, that would be "plate tectonics site:.gov."

Custom Search

In a similar vein, you may provide students a custom portal that searches only one or two site domains or displays results only from vetted websites (say, to protect young students from unsavory websites). This is possible with Google Custom Search (www.google.com/cse). Setting up the custom search entails adding all of the site domains (for example, usgs.gov) or web extensions to the setup portal. Then, voila, students using the custom portal now receive only results from those specific locations. This Google tool generates a special URL you can give to students so they can repeatedly perform custom searches with the filtered site criteria.

Google Images

Use the Google Images search engine (https:/limages.google. com) not only to find images but also to find resources related to an image. This is especially handy for lessons involving models, graphical representations of nature, and so on. Also, you can click the camera icon at the side of the blank search field, then follow the prompt to upload an image from your computer or paste in a URL of an image, and the image search will seek out websites that use similar images. …

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