The use of the Internet for researching, both for students and teachers, has made it increasingly important for users to be able to quickly access the information sought. While this can be more of a challenge for the blind or visually impaired user, understanding search engines, developing effective search strategies, and properly evaluating Internet sources can greatly improve searching. The following material should help both the quality and speed of your searching.
Description and Evaluation of Search Engines
Assistive Technology Training Online
This site, sponsored by the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo, provides information to help disabled elementary school children learn with the effective use of assistive technology. Links may be found to tutorials that explain how to use specific hardware devices and software programs, suggestions on how to identify appropriate adaptive technology, lists of links to national organizations, projects, and list serves related to assistive technology.
Search Engine Showdown: The Users' Guide to Web Searching
This is a detailed analysis of Internet search engines, their features, databases, and strategies. Learn advanced searching secrets and more.
A scholarly site about faceted search, which promises better organization of search results through offering categories, or facets, in result sets. Flamenco is designed to allow users "to move through large information spaces in a flexible manner without feeling lost." Includes publications, tutorials, downloadable software, and live, interactive demos. From the University of California, Berkeley, School of Information.
Faceted Metadata Search
A brief but thorough explanation of faceted search, in which users can easily switch between searching and browsing "using their own terminology for search while recognizing the organization and vocabulary of the data." Includes a comparison with traditional parametric search engines, examples of faceted search, and key features of major faceted-search engines. From Searchtools.com, a website maintained by web search guru and consultant Avi Rappoport.
How Internet Search Engines Work
Describes how search engines find information, using software called robots (spiders) to gather words and notes and build an index. Discusses meta tags, ranking, and how an index may be built. Includes diagrams. From How Stuff Works.
Open Directory Project
"The Open Directory Project is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors." The authors of this site contend that "The web continues to grow at staggering rates [and] automated search engines are increasingly unable to turn up useful results to search queries. The small paid editorial staffs at commercial directory sites can't keep up with submissions, and the quality and comprehensiveness of their directories has suffered." While, consequently, you will find a good deal of material of no academic value, there is, nonetheless, a great deal of value for the educator or student.
How Internet Search Engines Work
"Today, a top search engine will index hundreds of millions of pages, and respond to tens of millions of queries per day. In this How Stuff Works article, you learn how these major tasks are performed, and how Internet search engines put the pieces together in order to let you find the information you need on the Web."
>Tutorials on Searching
BARE BONES 101: A Very Basic Web Search Tutorial
If you're still getting those 1,670,000+ responses to your search queries on the Web, and you're too busy to read the lengthy, and not always helpful, "help" screens to find out how to improve your searching techniques. Help is here, in the BARE BONES Tutorial. They are short and succinct; each can be read in a few minutes. They are written so you can skip what you don't want and come back whenever you need to.
Contains "a discussion of Web basics, including links, major Web protocols, the makeup of URLs, and Web programming; a guide to the multimedia phenomenon; a guide to the social web and how you can participate; the fundamentals of RSS and why you need it; a list of search engines and subject directories; and how to choose a search tool." If you think you know how to search, this site will probably show you a good deal you didn’t realize you were missing.
"Yenza" -- a word meaning "do it" in the Xhosa and Zulu languages -- is a guide to using the Internet for research and teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The site includes links to resources for these purposes. In selecting them, the project team has tried to choose resources which are highly rated by subject experts."
Internet Beyond the Basics
This course from The Hadley School for the Blind goes beyond Internet basics and provides you with the information and tools you need to safely use the Internet for everyday activities. You will identify the threats to your computer as well as a variety of tools, techniques, and common sense practices for keeping your computer safe. Then you will discover how to use the Internet as a major tool for research and reference, travel planning, and shopping.
A browsable list of terms associated with searching and search engines. Learn how to distinguish a false drop from a fuzzy match, explore Boolean operators, and much more. From search engine specialist Avi Rappoport.
Finding Information on the Internet
"This tutorial presents the substance of the web searching workshops formerly offered by the University of California, Berkeley Library, but now suspended due to budget reductions." The term "research quality web surfing" is used "to reflect [the] belief that there is a lot of great material on the Web - primary sources, specialized directories and databases, statistical information, educational sites on many levels, policy, opinion of all kinds, and so much more - and tools for finding it are steadily improving." Find sections in this tutorial on strategies for searching, search engines, subject directories, meta-search engines, the invisible web, evaluating web pages, a style sheet for citing electronic sources, and more.
Google Search Features
Think you know everything there is to know about searching with Google? "In addition to providing easy access to billions of web pages, Google has many special features to help you to find exactly what you're looking for." This page provides brief explanations and examples of some of its most popular features.
Exploring Google's Hidden Features
"Google is a great search engine, but it's also more than that. Google has tons of hidden features, some of which are quite fun and most of which are extremely useful - if you know about them." This site will introduce these features to you and how best to use them.
How to Search for Whatever You Want Using Google
For many people, there is much more that can be gotten out of Google searching. This site provides a thorough guide to help your Google searches be quicker and more efficient.
100 + Google Tricks for Teachers
"With classes, homework, and projects–not to mention your social life–time is truly at a premium for all teachers, so why not take advantage of the wide world that Google has to offer? From super-effective search tricks to Google tools specifically for education to tricks and tips for using Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar, these  tricks will surely save you some precious time." Some of the links assume useable vision.
Evaluation of Information Sources
"This page contains pointers to criteria for evaluating information resources, particularly those on the Internet. It is intended to be particularly useful to librarians and others who are selecting sites to include in an information resource guide, or informing users as to the qualities they should use in evaluating Internet information." Features numerous links to other sites that treat various aspects of evaluating search tools.
ALA Great Websites for Kids
Because anyone can post anything on the Web, it is harder to determine the quality of electronic information than the print information found in the traditional library. This site, from the American Library Association, provides useful criteria for evaluating a good Web site.
Multnomah County Library Homework Center
The Multnomah (Oregon) County Library contains several links on searching and evaluating Web sources. The site is appropriate for either high school or college students.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) hosts this site with information on the dangers of Internet use. You can find advice on what to look for, how to engage children appropriately, and how to prevent exploitation.
Collection of classroom materials focused on helping students learn how to research and examine messages and claims encountered in media and advertising. Provides lesson plans, websites recommended for research, answers to common questions about government and politics, a dictionary, and a discussion forum for teachers. From the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Search Tools Chart
"This site, InfoPeople Search Tools Chart. is a two-page guide to search engines and search tools that summarizes the features of each engine and provides usage tips." Highly useful, especially for advanced searchers or those whose searching is confined to only one search engine.
With HTML you can create your own Web site. The World Wide Web Consortium provides the most thorough and, probably, the best tutorial on how to learn HTML and XHTML. Over 100 examples are easy to follow, and lessons are presented in small, easy to understand segments. With the W3C HTML editor, you can edit the HTML, and click on a button to view the result.
Howstuffworks How Web Pages Work
Have you ever wondered how a Web page works? Have you ever wanted to create your own Web page, complete with titles and text and graphic icons? Have you ever heard the word "HTML" and wondered what it means? This HowStuffWorks site looks at the art and science of Web pages and experiment with a number of techniques that you can try out on your own machine today. Site offers a tool that lets you try out HTML and view it instantly.
If you want to create a web page but don't have any idea how to do it, this site will help. This site starts from the basics and works up to some of the more advanced techniques.
Web Design References
Annotated collection of links to Web design tools, including HTML validators, link checkers, and tools for accessibility, color, CSS (cascading style sheets), information architecture, usability, and XML (extensible markup language). From Information Technology Systems and Services, University of Minnesota, Duluth.
Specialty Search Engines
Search Engine Watch
While the site is somewhat cluttered and could be more accessible for use with a screen reader, investing the additional few minutes to overcome these hurdles will be time well spent. This site gets our vote for the single best site on searching. Topics of special interest includes
Search Engine Links
which lists some top search engine recommendations in various categories,
Search Engine Math
which explains how to use simple commands to improve the results you get from searching,
which is a summary of how to do advanced searching with the major search engines,
Kids Search Engines
with engines specifically designed for young searchers. An updated page of information for kid’s searching is
Savvy Little Searchers: Kids' Search Engines.
This page of the Internet Public Library provides a good description of the major search engines as well as comments on their primary strengths and weaknesses. This can be especially helpful when you are trying to decide which engine is most likely to be appropriate for your needs.
Those Dark Hiding Places: The Invisible Web Revealed
The Web is increasingly moving away from being a collection of documents and becoming a multidimensional repository for sounds, images, audio, and other formats. Because much of this information is not accessible to many general search engines’ software spiders, this site attempts to describe specific search tools that will lead to this hidden content. Some of these tools include directories, searchable sites, free Web databases, and a few general and many specialized search engines.
HeadlineSpot.com: US Newspapers Online News Headlines, World News, Current Events
As the title suggests, the site provides a good summary of breaking news. It is easier to negotiate than some others which offer the same coverage. The trade off that is made is to lose some of the variety of news coverage for convenience of navigation.
The Internet Scout Report
The Internet Scout Report provides a fast, convenient way to stay informed about valuable resources on the Internet. Hundreds of announcements are filtered weekly for the most valuable and authoritative resources online. The results are then summarized and posted on this site. In addition, a free e-mail is available three times weekly on science & engineering, social sciences & humanities, or business & economics.
Search Links - The Best Search Engines, Directories, Libraries, MetaSearch Pages
This page, a selective collection of 75 of the top Net search tools, was created by
Tracy Marks for a class project. It contains useful sections on search engines, multi-search engines, specialized search engines, directories, top site directories, and meta-search pages. It also features site reviews as well as tips for more productive searching.
Pandea Power Search
Pandia is an all-in-one search site devoted to Internet searching. Not only do you find state of the art search tools like the Pandia Metasearch Engine, Pandia Radio Search and the Pandia Plus Web Directory; there is also a wealth of information on search engines and directories, search engine optimization and marketing and Web searching in general.
KidsClick! was created by a group of librarians at the Ramapo Catskill Library System, as a logical step in addressing concerns about the role of public libraries in guiding their young users to valuable and age appropriate web sites.
"Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. You can use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. For a site tutorial, see
Medstory is a search engine devoted to medical and health issues. Its mission is to enable users to search complex fields on the Web intelligently. The authors of the site say that they are starting with health and medicine because it is a field where they have expertise based on their work with health-related organizations.
KidZui is a safe, fun, kids’ search engine, filter, and online web browser with over 2.5 million parent and teacher approved websites, videos and games. Designed for children from 3-12, the Company’s flagship offering is the revolutionary KidZui Browser, a small application that downloads easily on PCs, Macs, and computers with FireFox. An initial trial is free, with a monthly membership as low as $3.33.
BananaSlug -- Long Tail Search Engine
Website of an Internet search engine "designed to promote serendipitous surfing" by "throw[ing] in a random word from a category of your choice. This results in pages you probably overlooked. They all have your search term in them, but the added twist gives you something new every time." Enter your search term in the window, select a category for your random word, and that's it. BananaSlug "uses the Google APIs, and as such, it's limited to 1000 queries a day."
Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources
Google has billions of pages indexed. But it's nothing compared to what else is out there. Google can only index the visible web, or searchable web. But the invisible web, or deep web, is estimated to be 500 times bigger than the searchable web. The invisible web comprises databases and results of specialty search engines that the popular search engines simply are not able to index. In order to start researching like a librarian, you'll need to explore more authoritative resources, many of which are invisible and which this site makes available.
An offshoot of the Internet search tool Vivísimo, "Clusty queries several top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking. . . . [This] search engine groups similar results together in clusters." Searches can be conducted for the whole Web, and for specific areas, such as blogs and news. Click on "details" to see what was searched. Also includes a FAQ and links to news stories about the site.
An Internet search engine that is designed to let "people search less, and discover more great stuff." Searchable by keywords in these categories: health, travel, video games, finance, and U.S. politics. Kosmix plans to add more categories.
This site allows users to "quickly and easily find targeted news on the Internet" with the aid of "artificial intelligence algorithms that continuously monitor breaking news from over 10,000 sources, 24 hours a day" and cluster news stories by subject and geography. Search by topic, city, or ZIP code; or view news in categories such as sports, entertainment, business, technology, and "offbeat." Is especially good at identifying local information.
Ask Jeeves for Kids
"A fast, easy and kid-friendly way for kids to find answers to their questions online. Designed to be a fun destination site focused on learning and education,' Ask Jeeves for Kids uses natural-language technology that allows kids to ask questions, such as 'Why is the sky blue?' or 'What's it like to live in space?' in the same way they would ask a parent, friend or teacher. The service combines human editorial judgment with filtering technology to enable kids to find both relevant and appropriate answers on the Web."
"Yahooligans! is a browsable, searchable directory of Internet sites for kids. Each site has been carefully checked by an experienced educator to ensure the content and links are appropriate for kids aged 7-12."
Audio and Music Search Engine
This page of the
offers a sophisticated search capacity to locate both audio and musical materials. Most of the audio information is in the form of numerous podcast directories. The music searches not only include the traditional types of music you would expect but also extend to the less traditional such as animal sounds, etc.
A List of Educational Search Engines
"Academic and educational search engines and web directories provide research-quality content from websites that are screened by educators and experts in a particular field. These search tools also search the “invisible web”, which is material not available through general search engines. The invisible web contains information included in searchable databases and archives. By using these search engines and web directories, students and teachers can obtain research quality information without the difficult task of weeding out non-authoritative and spam sites. Users can be sure that these search engines will not return the spam sites, junk sites, or sites of dubious quality and research value that broader search engines may return."
"Almost all children today have access to the Internet through schools, libraries, community centers, or their home. And most 8 to 18-year-olds, 74 percent,
have Internet access from their home computers. Not only do more children have access to the Internet than ever before, but they are using it more, too. Many schools incorporate the Internet into their
curricula and encourage online research for projects" in addition to social networking. This excellent site provides sections on cybercrime, bullying, the dangers of social networking, web monitoring software, and activities and lesson plans. National Crime Prevention Council.
Internet Safety for Kids
"This guide teaches you the basics of Internet safety for kids. With this tools and tips resource, you can help shield your youngest kids from danger and teach the older ones how to act more carefully while online." Includes information on the specific dangers posed to kids, a list of Internet safety tools for parents, safety guidelines, and resources telling who to contact for help.
Identity Theft Resources
Site includes sections on how to detect and prevent online identity theft as well as government guidance , a list of essential nongovernmental and academic advisories, case studies and reports on online identity theft.
Internet Safety for Kids
An excellent collection of annotated sites dealing with all aspects of Internet safety from beginning to advanced users.
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