Today I’m giving a presentation at Internet Librarian International about my research into how teens and pre-teens search the web for information. They seem to take a much more visual approach to reading information narrative than I do. A significant proportion browse through picture search to discover the text around images This obviously has big implications for how school librarians approach the job of helping them search better for the things they really need to know. Should we adapt our strategies to focus on helping them enhance their browsing techniques rather than trying to impose our way of doing it through developing advanced key-wording skills?
During the last week of term I sent an email link for a Surveymonkey questionnaire I had created to all our Years 7-8 (11-12 year olds). I’m interested in finding out about visual search but began by asking which search engine students preferred to use. They were given a choice of answers of Google, Bing, Safari, Don’t Know, Don’t mind and Other (please say). 47 of 176 students participated and a staggering 92% preferred Google. There were 2 “Other” replies which turned out to be Google Chrome! As our school browser is IE8 with a default Bing setting this is quite suprising. Even more interesting is the fact that when asked to explain why they chose a particular search engine 37 of them bothered to answer and gave very coherent and specific reasons for their choice. I’ve made a wordle of their comments omitting the words “because”, “use” and the names of specific search engines.
The students gave marked emotional responses for their use of Google compared with other search engines. One stated “Bing annoys me” and another “Google Chrome is faster, wicked, better, legendary, amazing and spectacular”!
I went to visit my daughter at University over the Easter weekend and she raved about the advanced search features of Google. She is a classics student and is currently writing a dissertation about the language of the courtesan in Plautus’ plays (don’t ask!). Google search allows her to interrogate a single website – the Latin Library- and find references to one word within the text of Plautus’ plays.
This set me thinking. I’m sure our English Lit students could do the same through the Project Gutenburg website so I had a test to see… Click the box with 4 arrows in it to view this Screen Toast in full screen mode.
Are you the sort of researcher who writes notes in the margins of their books or uses highlighter pens to emphasise important points in the text? Did you know that you can do the same kind of marking and notetaking on website pages that you can then store to refer to again in the future? I’ve just discovered how and it’s amazing.
By registering and installing the Diigo toolbar from the Diigo website http://www.diigo.com/ you can bookmark useful websites for different areas of study and add notes to the text on the pages. There is a very good 4 minute video introduction to the possibilities: Starting Diigo by DiigoBuzz on Youtube
I had a go at bookmarking and highlighting a page about Gothic Literature as shown in the image above. I made notes as if I was planning an essay entitled “What is Gothic Literature?”