Alan November: effective searching

I recently attended a workshop by Alan November that focused on ways to teach students effective internet use and searching. Alan had some interesting tips and tricks that readers may find useful (I certainly did!)

  • Wikipedia puts title of article at end of URL, so there is more chance of it coming up first in a Google search.
  • After that (as long as there has not been a payment for boosting results), it’s the number of links from other sites that affects ranking.
  • Alta vista is a good search engine for finding links coming in.

How do you find the author/publisher of a website?

  • Go to where you can look up domain name registration application.
  • On the web, you often don’t know if something is true or not. We need to teach students tools for cross referencing and validating information. More information and examples here.

Websites to validate

  • Have a look at some of these websites. Purposely show this to help students make meaning.

How to read a web address

  • Chop off end of web address to go to root site, sounds easy enough but more information on teaching this here.
  • See which organisations use which domains:
  • Go to alta vista link:web address
  • Britain schools higher ed
  • Url:k12 to see which schools are using it. great ideas on how other teachers are using it.

The history of websites and leaving your digital footprint even when you think it’s been erased.

  • Teach students not to ruin the rest of their life today! finds sites even when sites have been deleted. Copy URL, delete http:// then paste, click ‘take me back’. Archive also shows website changes over time. Can show origins of websites. See here for more information.
  • ~ means personal subdirectory, which is someone’s own opinion.
  • US Freedom of speech protects all sites, even if they are malicious ones.
  • .org in the US is not designated for non profit sites.
  • Anyone can apply for a .org

There is a grammar, syntax and punctuation to the web. Once you know the rules, it is a different animal. Every teacher should teach and these reinforce skills.

Wolfram alpha answers all maths and chemistry problems. Maths and science teachers may like to reassess homework they set because of this.

Alan November – How Can We Make Change?

Recently Alan November spoke at the ACEC2010 Conference. On his ‘soapbox’ he discussed how teachers who want to use technology in the curriculum can help to encourage and make change within their schools.

  • It is the role of the Principal to manage change.
  • We need to change the way Principals are trained to include information about embedding technology into the curriculum.
  • When teachers go on PD days, take two students to PD to build in urgency to make change once back at school.
  • What do you love to teach? Custom design tools for that.
  • Principals should ask teachers ‘which countries are part of your work?’ They need to make contact with teachers across the world for kids to work together. The Principal should organise this so there are no excuses.
  • Assessment: capacity to show students in any subject fitquest library.
  • Find 12 student projects for this unit. Kids develop rubrics for assessing projects. They design the assessment.
  • Who owns learning? is an important question we must consider.
  • Publishing student work online is vital. Continuous assessment over years by comments, etc.
  • Different search engines for different problems. An example is to narrow a Google search down to articles coming from a specific country eg for Turkey you would type in Site:tr after your search phrase. To narrow down to government sites, use Site:gov
  • Technorati is  a search engine for blogs. Includes comments.
  • Good tools to create content and communicate are Jing and Skype. We must have fearless global communicators and learners. Teach them well.
  • YouTube is blocked? Teachers should be able to create folders inside your school filter. Every teacher can have their own filter.
  • School Leaders need to learn how filtering software works.
  • See Alan’s web literacy book./website Information literacy. Add to PLN
  • Teach strategies for search – setup a Google custom search engine at (you will need google account). This makes searching safer and more reliable for students as the only results are from the sites you’ve nominated to be reputable. Designed by teachers, students won’t get distracted by millions of search results as the only results are ones you put in. Students can contribute sites as well. More information on how to implement this – read this handout by Alan November.
  • A good idea is to have students with specific tasks, change the students daily:
  • Tutorial designers. Students can design and produce learning lessons and tutorials for other students, within their class, school and across the globe. An example of this was featured in a previous Bright Ideas post about Mathtrain.TV.
  • Official scribe. Create a Google Docs account which all students can view. Have one student take comprehensive notes for the class daily. Students will take great care when taking notes on behalf of the class, teaching them responsibility and good writing skills.
  • Daily researcher. Adding resources for class study every day. Set up a Diigo or Delicious account and have students add links and tags. Set up tagging on the first day. Teachers can see who is tagging what.
  • Collaboration coordinators. Have a small team of students who take responsibility for organising and making contact with other classrooms across the world via Skype.
  • Curriculum reviewers. Students can review the resources and curriculum via their own podcasts.
  • Contributors to society. Kiva is an excellent website that organises small loans for third world countries. Great for geography.
  • The best job for kids is to make a difference.

More information is available in Alan’s “Power Up or Power Down” chapter of Curriculum21.