21c Research, Part 3: Navigating the Digital Landscape

The new Research Strand of the ELAR TEKS requires that students be able to gather information from electronic sources, use advanced search strategies, and distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources. But in the Age of the Internet, it is easy to find ourselves adrift in the sea of information, drowning in the digital ocean that engulfs us. In this session, we will get our feet on solid ground again with a hands-on, step-by-step exploration of the new tools and concepts that were introduced in Parts 1 and 2.

We will explore a wide range of effective search tools and strategies—from library databases to “folksonomies.” We will practice tagging, highlighting, annotating, sharing, and organizing online resources using Diigo. We will investigate the critical characteristics to consider when evaluating websites, and yes, we will even discuss Wikipedia. All are welcome to join even if you missed the previous sessions. Don’t forget to bring your own laptop!

Getting Started

Please log in to your Diigo account.
Be sure you have joined the NEISD ELA Teachers group.
Be sure you have the "Diigolet" added to your "Favorites" drop-down menu.

Step 1: Begin with the Research Organizer

This organizer comes from NEISD Library Research Tools page

Step 2: Use the NEISD Library Portal to Begin Your Search

If you are on a school computer, there may be a shortcut to the "Library Portal" on your desktop, or you can use the library link from your campus website.

Start with the EBSCOhost Research Databases

Choose the databases you think will be relevant to your search, and click continue (at the bottom of the screen).
Type in your search term(s) and hit search.
Notice what happens when you "Narrow Results" on the left side and "Limit your results" on the right side
Note that when you are looking at the results for a specific article/resource--the page where you see the "Abstract" describing the article, you can click the "Bookmark" button that looks like this:
Bookmark and Share
and then choose Diigo to bookmark it to your account.

Next try the Thompson Gale Power Search

This time, choose "Select All" products. Type in your search term(s) and hit search.
Limit your results to "fulltext" and see what happens when you change media typs using the tabs across the top (magazines, academic journals, etc.)
Ready to bookmark something?
Oops, the share button doesn't have a diigo option yet. (I've asked them to add it.)
Open your diigo page in the next tab of your Internet browser.
From your "My Library" view, find the "Add a bookmark" box on the right-hand side of the page.
Copy and past the URL into the box, click "Add" and then title, describe, tag, and share as usual.

Step 3: Try Different Search Engines

Use tabbed browsing to open multiple search engines at once.
Try the exact same search terms in each search engine and compare the results.

Most popular: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, AOL (powered by Google)

Cuil "ranks pages based on popularity and relevance"
Kartoo "draws a semantic map to see the topics and refine your search"
Wolfram Alpha is a "computational knowledge engine"

Clusty "searches top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking"
Dogpile searches Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask all at once
Metacrawler searches Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and About all at once

Still Not Sure Which Search Engines to Use?

Go to Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need
Or use the NoodleQuest

Step 4: Use Advanced Search Strategies in Google

Add the following modifiers to limit your search results.
Also, try the "Advanced Search" options.
After you've done a search, try clicking the "Show options" buttons at the top of the results list to limit by type, time, format, and/or content.
Once you find a good website in the list of results, you can click "similar" to find more like it.

Don't forget about Google Books, Google Scholar, Google Blogs, and Google News!
Phrase Search
Include an exact phrase
Put quotation marks around your search terms
Caution: using phrase search may cause you to miss some results by accident, for example, "Alexander Bell" will omit pages that contain "Alexander G. Bell"
"The Beatles"
"George Washington"
Positive Terms
Search exactly as is
Add a plus (+) sign in front of the words you definitely want to include
Henry +VIII
Negative Terms
Terms you want to exclude
Add a minus (-) sign in front of the words related to the meaning you want to avoid
salsa -dance
OR Search
Find pages that include either of two search terms
Add an uppercase OR between the terms
Istanbul OR Constantinople
Domain Searches
Search within one specific website

Specifiy a whole class of sites
Include the word "site" and a colon followed by the site name

Or include the word "site" and a colon followed by the desired domain type
Fill in the Blanks
Find pages with information to fill in missing words
Use an asterisk (*) as a placeholder for any unknown terms
Shakespeare married * in *
Specify where your search term occurs on the page
Include the modifier "intitle" or "inurl" followed by a colon and the word you want to specify
Similar Words
Search for similar words or synonyms to your search terms
Add a tilde (~) in front of the search term
search ~tips
File Search
Search for specified file format
Include the modifier "filetype" followed by a colon and the abbreviation for the kind of file you want
Linked Pages
Find pages that link to a specific site
Include the word "link" followed by a colon and the url of the site
Related Search
Find web pages that are similar or re​lated to the url
Include the word "related" followed by a colon and the url of the site
Define a word or term
Use the word "define" followed by a colon and the word or term you want defined
The chart above was created based on the Google resources listed at the bottom of this page.
Ready to learn more? See Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tricks

Step 5: Try a Custom Search Engine

Step 6: Search Resource Sharing Communities



Searching within Diigo
Community library
Groups (try the English Companion Ning Group or Classroom 2.0)

Step 7: Evaluate the Websites You've Found

The online resources you use to answer your research question should be . . .

Website Evaluation Forms

from Plagiarism: Why It Happens, How to Prevent It by Barry Gilmore, p. 97
from Making the Most of the Web in Your Classroom: A Teacher's Guide to Blogs, Wikis, Pages, and Sites by Timothy Green, p. 41
from Illuminating Texts by Jim Burke, pp. 172-174
from the NEISD Library Research Tools page
from McDougal Littell's Classzone
Web Page Evaluation Checklist from Berkeley
Evaluating Web Sites: Criteria and Tools from Cornell
Web Site Evaluation Form from ReadWriteThink
Critical Evaluation Surveys from Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators

Practice Evaluating Websites

Please visit one of the sites listed below and complete a Website Evaluation Form to analyze its validity, reliability, and credibility:
All About Explorers
Buy Dehydrated Water
Dihydrogen Monoxide
Dog Island: Free Forever
The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency
MoonBeam Enterprises
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Find the Owner or Publisher of a Website

There are several web services available for looking up the individual or organization responsible for posting a particular website:
Whois Source
Who Is Behind that Domain?
Whois.net Domain-Based Research Services
Whois Lookup

For More Information Literacy Resources

See my Diigo bookmarks tagged

Google Resources

Google Web Search (the essentials)
Google Search: Basic Help
Google Search: More Help
Google Web Search - Classroom Lessons and Resources
Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier (interactive tutorial)
Advanced Search Operator Cheat Sheet (this quick reference guide is also available as a pdf)

Google Custom Search Engine (create a search engine that limits searches to only those sites you select)

Classroom Posters with Google Search Tips