Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alternative Search Tools to Google for Kids

We all do it, just log onto Google to find the information or image we need, and the kids do it too. The following are some great alternatives to use with your class.
A good strategy is to mix it up – ask them to specifically find resources using different search engines.
Some kids are definitely more visual learners, so some search engines are terrific for them. Others present their findings in very unusual ways that are excellent resources in themselves.
Advanced searching is a breeze as well with some well designed search engines that allow for Boolean searching without your students even knowing what they are doing!

Here’s some of the best:

Spezify A visual search engine, results are given in multimedia rich format. It is a great ‘big picture’ tool and includes blogs and tweets on the subject area as well – therefore including social networking into the mix, visuals including images and videos are presented – a draw back is the download time of some of the images – but it’s a great tool to browse through.
Search-Cube Giving a visual result display, Search cube grabs its results from Google and site preview thumbnails from Thumbshots, then combines them in a 3D cube that you can rotate freely either with your mouse or keyboard.
Mashpedia Mashpedia is a web application structured thematically around topics, like in an encyclopedia. It integrates contents loaded from different online sources under one single interface, providing a wide spectrum of digital contents and up-to-the-minute data. For every valid topic, Mashpedia presents a list of modules with content loaded in real-time from multiple web services, categorized by media type or data source. By jumping modules, you'll find fresh data and digital media from Newspapers, Magazines, Blogs, Books, Wikipedia, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Social Answers and additional online resources.
What's clearly missing here are which results are worth clicking on, something you get with Google's search result relevance algorithm, however, on the flip side (literally), you get to see a lot more results at once, and with a little visual flair.

Duck Duck Go Duck Duck Go is an Internet search engine that makes it easier to find the information you're looking for. When you search a topic, in addition to links, it provides a synopsis of that topic with zero clicks. Duck Duck Go also gives you links to related topics, news, and images on the same page.

Kigose From yahoo Kids: Kid safe Kigose is a website designed for students and teachers to find educational resources. Kigose only includes public websites that are for educational purposes only. The list of the websites included are suggested by teachers, parents and students.

Boolify: The advent of the internet increased the amount of information available to the general public exponentially. The people of Boolify, joined together because they realized that while the amount of available information had increased, the tools to find it were not being properly taught to children. Boolify is a tool that enables students to be able to visualize the search process by using puzzle pieces to put their search together. Boolify uses the Google Safe Search engine so results are appropriate for children and it teaches children to use proper Boolean searches. While aimed at primary and middle-school children, Boolify is a great tool for anyone who is not familiar with the ins and outs of Boolean searching.

Sortfix: Search Bing, Google and twitter at the same time. It does all the hard work and leaves you only the easy part. It fetches the search results from Google, Bing and Twitter in one interface. Behind the scene an intelligent algorithm does the work – by scanning and examining the results, it reveals the significant keywords and terms that will help you to define a better question. Then comes the best part, by using SortFix’s unique interface you can play with the suggested keywords, and create your own individual and precise query, and when you ask a precise question you usually get the right answer.
SortFix has 4 search sections on the search results page:
1. Power Words – Keywords that are automatically filled after checking the relevancy with the searched term.
2. Add To Search – The actual entered keyword by user.
3. Remove – Drag the search terms and drop in this box to exclude from search results.
4. Dictionary – Drag and Drop any keyword in this box to see the term’s definition instantly.
Comparison Search Glean Comparison Search (formerly All Sides at Boolify) is a tool designed to help its users explicitly explore differing points of view about a topic. By providing a fluid scaffolding structure for the comparative research process, it is our intent to help researchers develop a keener, more refined ability to explore their own conceptions vis a vis differing views.
Quintura for Kids is powered by Yahoo. It gives a more visual way of searching using a keyword cloud. You start off your search with a keyword in the text box and then modify it with any of the keywords in the cloud. Quintura displays five results per page. You may miss it, but clicking on the surrounding icons takes you to the five preset search categories – Music, History, Animals, Sports and recreation, and Games.

So much to choose from here, but when introducing students to the tools, make sure you highlight the very best one for the job.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sunny,

    Thanks for posting about Boolify and Comparison Search! It's great to know that you find them useful.

    We're in constant touch with people who use our tools (as you can see!) and would love it if you (or your students) have any ideas to share about what we could do to improve.

    If so, please do connect -- is the best way.

    Thanks & all the best with your teaching!

    p.s. we're also eager to share lesson plans or curriculum that shows effective implementation; feel free to share things our way, too, if you think it would be helpful for other educators!