The Google toilet roll

Imagine you’ve asked a librarian (they do still exist) in bold voice, I’d like to know about {insert topic of choice} – She ducks behind the counter pops back up holding a toilet roll  – or equivalent lengthy sheet of paper – absolutely full of entries.  They are the places on any page on any book anywhere that the topic of you choice appears. Useless right?  What we’d really expect is some librarian sense to cut in there and she’d actually give you a whole book or whole chapter not only on the topic of your choice but in pertinent form to you. Thinking primary school level or PhD here.

 But!  this toilet roll approach is exactly what Google gives you. Millions of entries with no sense of context and rarely any likely hood of educational value or connection to the assignment or project you’ve set or are taking.         So why do we do that?    Probably because Google forgot to put “directory” on the front page.  It’s hidden away in the depths of the labs section. That’s where all the cool things are in case you haven’t seen it.

Don’t let students search in the main page of Google unless they have really learned good searching techniques. The Directory search is much more forgiving, much more educationally valuable and likely to get them their homework done in half the time and with much better results.

 Remember this is good for you to set better assignments and projects too.

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  1. Hi Chris,

    Mahalo is trying to address the issue you mention.

    I actually linked to the website last year in one of my blog posts and the CEO spotted the link through is RSS feed and contacted me about my comments. Pretty impressive – I follow him on Twitter now

    http://www.mahalo.com/

    cheers Martin

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