Jan 14 2013

Can Google Help Students Master the Art of Online Search?

Free resources aim to help learners find reliable information quickly.

There’s been ample discussion in K–12 classrooms recently about the quality, or lack thereof, of students’ online research skills.

Such concerns came to a head late last year when a national survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicated that 60 percent of teachers believe digital technologies make it hard for students to distinguish between credible and noncredible sources online.

But here’s something you probably didn’t know: One of the best and most robust resources for teaching digital literacy can be found on one of the Web’s most persistent trouble spots: Google.

That’s right. The same search engine that educators say is often guilty of providing students with access to too much unfiltered information is also home to some of the best resources for teaching young researchers about the uses—and potential perils—of the Internet.

Google’s Search Education feature gives educators free access to lesson plans and classroom activities intended to help students cultivate better online search skills.

The site is broken out into four categories:

Lesson Plans & Activities

A database of in-class lessons, from “Picking the Right Search Terms” to “Narrowing a Search to Get Better Results” to “Evaluating Credibility of Sources.” Each lesson is aligned to Common Core Standards and is available in three tiers: beginner, intermediate and advanced, depending on the age and skill level of the learner.

Power Searching

These free courses offer tips and tricks to finding online information quickly and efficiently. Students and teachers choose an instructor-led course (registration required) or a self-paced version to be completed at their leisure—plus, advanced search techniques for more skilled research and membership in an online community of search enthusiasts and researchers.

“A Google a Day” Challenges

Encourage students to use their newfound search skills to complete online skills challenges divided into four categories: Culture, Geography, History and Science. Each challenge includes a difficult topical question, hints to help students begin their search, the answer, and background for further classroom discussion on the topic. 

Live Training

An archived series of webinars focuses on helping teachers integrate search literacy into existing lesson plans. Learn how to use Google’s tools for education or get an expert tutorial in Google Maps before attempting to use it with students in class. The site also accepts suggestions from educators for future tutorials. 

Do you use any other resources for teaching online search in your classrooms? We'd love to hear what they are in the Comments.


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