Thursday, January 19, 2017

Maximizing Google Search Part 4 - Find Information Faster

This is Part 4 of a blog series on the Google Powersearching course, a free online course that is self-paced. (feel free to skip to the first topic)

This lesson helps us to find factual information more efficiently. There are so many useful search options such as Google Flights, "time now in [city name]", translation, etc, that it's difficult to keep up. Here is a small list of approaches to refining your searches from Google support. 

The point of the series is to give short summaries of the course with useful links and links to the videos Google provides. If you want to jump ahead and get go directly to many of the Search features you can access this work-in-progress Google Slides deck, entitled “Google Search: Foster Independent Learners & Search Like a Ninja”. It is based on Google Search workshops I have facilitated and continues to evolve. The goal is to learn how to use Google Search with maximum efficiency. As Google states, you will “Hone your searching skills by solving complex search challenges alongside peers from around the world in this online class.” The skills you will learn here will give educators the tools needed to foster your students’ independent research skills.

Search by Image 
This section teaches us how to search by dragging and dropping images into the Google search bar. This is great for any class. You can find out what something is, where someplace is, and the sources of similar images. It doesn’t have to be the full image, but the more “full” the image is, the “fuller” result you’ll get. The text in the search result will indicate the best options. 

  • Go to the Image search tab
  • Click on the camera icon in the search bar
  • Drag and drop an image into the search bar, which processes the image
  • The best possible description will appear

Search Features 
By doing a search called [Google Search Features] you’ll get the search features master list. This is great! You can find detailed information on so many topics: population, unemployment, medicines, weather, time in a specific city, conversions, spell check, earthquakes (nice while in Japan), and more. When searching you’ll be able to find things like flight details, exact time, weather, details about a specific illness or related names. These are great little shortcuts.

Conversions and Calculator 
Google as we know converts for us and calculates weights and measures. It also calculates. Here are some straightforward conversion scenario examples:

  • 35C in F
  • 23 bushels in liters
  • 3 km in miles
  • dollars to yen (this will also allow you to convert again; there is a disclaimer)
  • % of a number
  • recipe conversion

World Development Index: population calculations, for example, gives you a data page in which you can compare nations (I’m not certain how accurate this is as I compared Canada and Japan in “primary children out of school” and had an odd spike in different years on the graph for each; still, worth looking into)

Right Hand Panel and Date Range Limiting 
This feature allows us to customize the range of time we want to seek information, such as when a book was published, or articles from a specific period of time (weeks, days, years). You can narrow this with operators such as “intext:”, “filetype:”, and the “OR” synonym finder.

  • Do a search with keywords
  • Choose the time in the time filter (click “more search tools first)
  • Click on another filter, such as “News” or “Books”

Translation and Search
This feature allows you to search foreign pages, in their original language, to get perspectives from other cultures. You can grab a news article and mouseover (or rollover) to get the original text as well. Using the translation features allows you to select the language or languages you desire. I think in teaching history, and especially using sources, I’d be somewhat careful of the translations at the moment, but would definitely give this search option a try. The example used in the video is with dolphin temple in Greek culture, but from the perspectives of the Greeks.

  • You can narrow the search to news, as well as use the time range feature
  • The more option allows you to shift from one language to another
  • There is a pronunciation feature with the speaker icon, but it’s very much like a computer voice
  • I find the translations I’ve “played with” are not great


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