I wanted to explore the search tools because my students will almost always go directly to Google unless I direct them otherwise. Many of them often end up plagiarizing because they end up on sites that are too difficult for them to truly understand (or simply because they are looking for the easy way out). I find that if I give them a preselected list of sites that I have bookmarked they are much more successful with their research. Giving them the sites means they are not learning to independently find suitable sites. When I have them use our databases they often need or want to go beyond them to complete a project.
I liked the idea of search engines whose sites have been evaluated for student use so I am pretty confident they will view acceptable content. I liked KidRex a lot because the search results emphasized kid related pages. I also liked Sweet Search. Because I teach 5th and 6th grade many of the search results were written above my weaker students’ reading levels. When I added “for kids” to the end of my search it did help narrow down the results to their level. I added both search engines to my website research page.
I liked the credibility of the search results from refseek. Students often struggle with determining the credibility of a source. Unlike Google the first result was not Wikipedia. Hooray! The search engine Million Short surprised me. I found useful sites that had not popped up in Google or Bing.
I was fascinated by InstaGrok. I could easily see how it would appeal to students. I played with it for about 2 hours. Although I liked it, the site was less intuitive then I expected. For example, I took notes on a source and could find them nowhere afterwards. It was frustrating to lose my work. I could not figure out how to get an image to paste into the journal. I tried using both Safari and Firefox with no luck. I could see the site frustrating students. Unless I can get a good handle on how the site works I can’t see spending the $45.
Carrot Search had the clustering feature of InstaGrok but it could be orgainzed 3 ways. I like how the clustering would help students sift through their search results. I preferred the folders rather than the circles myself although I could see students being drawn to the circles. I did not care for the foam tree at all because I found it overwhelming. When I used the web tab it worked fine but I got a lot of error messages on the other tabs.
I have recently been learning about meta data and liked the search engine BASE because it included metadata in its search. It was a great site for me but well above my students. I could see it being used by high school and college students for research.
I spent many hours exploring this topic and comparing the different search engines. I’m a research junkie so it was right up my alley. I will certainly be many of theses search engines in the future.