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Teaching Students to Search with ‘Google Search Education Evangelism’

On Wednesday I asked an open thread discussion question–How do we measure (and improve) students’ digital skills?–that resulted in a pretty good conversation about various approaches different people take.

I think it becomes clear in any such conversation that we’re really talking about at least two different sets of skills: information literacy (how to find, evaluate, and use information), and digital proficiency (how to use various software applications, how to problem solve, how to adapt to unfamiliar environments).

With regard to information literacy, it’s often a challenge (in my experience) not only to get students to search using something other than Google; it’s also difficult to teach them how to use Google effectively. And in this way my students seem similar to the students in the ERIAL study discussed by the Inside Higher Ed article I referenced in Wednesday’s post: “They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources.”

Well, thanks to a recent Tweet by Micah Vandergraft, I now know of a site designed to address search skills: Google’s “Search Education Evangelism” site. While the name may be a bit strange (or maybe that’s just me), the content of the site looks to be quite useful, including

  • Lesson plans, from basic to advanced,
  • Slide decks, available for use by instructors, and
  • Recorded webinars, available for download.

Since I only just learned of the site, I haven’t given it a try in my own teaching, but I think I’ll incorporate some of its content into my first-year writing courses this semester.

How about you? How do you teach your students how to search for (and evaluate) information? Have you taken advantage of Google’s “Search Education Evangelism” site? How did it go? Please share in the comments.

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