Monday, October 19, 2009

Personal/Custom Search Engine

As a middle school teacher, there are times when I want my students to do some Internet research. Problem is, as a tech instructor, I know the difficulties students will face in finding information they will be able to understand and validate as factual. I have had several teachers comment that the students know more than they do about technology, therefore they will be able to find the information without any problems. As research has shown, even the brightest middle school students are not proficient with online reading and comprehension.

To help out with this problem, I would like to introduce a tool available via Google. The Custom Search Engine or CSE is a tool that will limit searches to specific sites you have already chosen. Up front there is some setup, but once you have done the research and set up a CSE, students will have access to researched sites for their searches. To use this tool, you will need to have a Google account. It is free.Once you have one, sign in and then visit the Custom Search Engine site.

Once registered and logged into the site,  you should see a page that has the following headings:
  • Basic information
  • What do you want to search
  • Select some sites
  • Select an editon
Basic information:  type a name for the search engine and a description.
What do you want to search:  Depending on how you want to use this search engine will dictate which choice here.
Select some sites:  In this box, you will list the sites you have chosen for your CSE. Be sure to read the "Tips on formatting URLs". The searches can be limited to single web pages or entire sites.
Select an edition:  One downside is in order to keep it free, the search results will have ads on them. But this is no different than a regular Google search which has ads on it as well.

When all the information is filled out, check the box at the bottom for Terms of Service and click next.
On the following page you can try out your newly created search engine. Once finished here click the Finish button. The next page will show you a control panel for your search engines. I am not going into details on this page. There is a lot of information here. I would suggest playing around with the site though.

One final feature I will point out though, if you have a webpage, blog or some other Internet site, you will be able to embed code to have your search engine available there instead of creating a link to the Google site itself. On my website, I have an example of what this would look like. Otherwise, you can create a link to the URL so students can easily access your CSE.

If you have any questions or would like some help with this, email me and I will set up a time to meet with you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Up and Coming Technology: Sixth Sense

It seems to me every day or so I hear comments about the new technology available, how much info there is out there, how scary the Internet is and so forth. Well, if any of these comments have been apart of your conversations lately, take a look at this video. I think it is fascinating and at the same time a part of me wants to be wary of information I choose to put online about myself. Take a look at the video and see what you think.