Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google Custom Search

Sometimes I come across something and I have to share it. Since I've spoken with everyone in my suite I've decided to take my information out to the web. I came across something I've found to be very intriguing for an online course and student research. I do have to say that I never would have found this if it wasn't for Twitter, but I won't go into details. There is a high probability that when you assign a research assignment for an online student, or face-to-face for that matter, one option a student invokes to begin the project is to use an online search engine. I would venture a guess and say that judging by their success, students are more than willing to use Google's search engine. The regular search engine, assuming they don't go through Books or Scholar, opens them up to the World Wide Web and all its glory...and pitfalls. My thoughts are this type of inquiry requires students to have the knowledge of how to discern what is and isn't a reputable source for them to draw information from as support for the logic in their project. Going off of recent trends in critical thinking skills, I am assuming this is a daunting task for some. What if you could create and embed in your LMS (for us Moodle) a Google search engine that you control the sites it searches? You would be able to go out and vet the sites ahead of time, or drive students to libraries, books, journals, etc...and the entire time it appears to a student as if they are searching Google. Google has the option to create a custom search engine that does just that. You create it, you tell it which sites to search, and you share it with your students. I embedded one into Moodle just a few moments ago and it worked out perfectly. As much as I direct and provide information on how to investigate online sources inevitably students are relying on questionable material as primary forms of information. A tool such as this isn't full proof, but it offers another option to the arsenal. Part of me feels conflicted, as though I am doing some of the work for them...which I am, but I don't have to let that be known.

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