Friday, January 28, 2011

Searching on the never ending Web, how can we be successful when we need to find relevant materials on the Web for the classroom?

The key to being successful when using a search engine I found out is the vocabulary and how specific you are when using the search engine.  The more specific, simpler the language and more components for a search request the better your results will be.  I found that using trial and error, and building onto my search results helped me to get what I needed.  As an example, for a search I wanted some clip art that was fun or a cartoon the depicted a book for a poster in my classroom.  I went from “pics. of books”, to “cartoon book figures” before I had a selection I wanted.

The difference between a search engine and a subject directory I found  seemed to be comparable to the difference between  an “advanced search” and  “browsing” a subject.  The most useful was the subject directory, although I did find that educational website links had a quite few personal pages that were obsolete or not functional.  This probably has to do with a project that lasted a year or so, then was never maintained. 

The websites that supported our Sunshine State Standards were the Florida department of education, which I found very difficult to navigate, and the adopted series websites for core subject areas.  These were much more user friendly then the DOE site.  The sites made to correlate with the book series, that we have in Orange County,  seemed to make it very easy to interact, and “attach” standards to lesson plans.  A specific example is the Houghton Mifflin series.  This series has an outlined technology plan that identifies what lessons from the classroom whole group lessons, correlates with what lessons that should be “assigned “ to students.  Teachers can use the Riverdeep program to create lessons that reinforce the same standards and objectives that are taught from the textbook.  This helps to integrate what is taught in class with what can be practiced at home.  It also has a lesson planner to help create yearlong plan for teachers to follow with what aspects of the program they want to use. 

The current website that Orange County Public Schools maintains is a one stop area for the public, teachers/employees, parents and students. It is moderately easy to navigate, but the search engine it has to use for the site is inadequate and the results it produces mostly are not relevant.  As for basic questions and information the site is great, but the more specific you get with your information request the harder it seems it is to find what you’re looking for.   The county and individual schools websites throughout the state, seem to be the only other resource I could find that added to what the Florida Department of Education that were reliable. 

It seems the Web 2.0 is more than adequate  for my search current needs, but the new 3.0 seems to be beyond what I ever expected for being connected through the digital world.  I felt that the search tools that were provided by the textbook more than met my needs, but with the amount of disposable sites seemed to be too numerous.  There was a good amount of suggested sites that didn’t meet my needs, which shows there is room for improvement.  Included in the frustration of the search engines was when I continued to use the wrong  vocabulary, this led to dead ends and “no results found” problems.  These two issues increase the time that you spend on the web and with the ideas that were outlined for the Web 3.0, it seems there will be an ease to many current burdens of the Web 2.0, of life in general and will allow computers to help use in more aspects of our life. 

1 comment:

  1. I have to take a moment to agree with you on the Florida DOE website. I often have a hard time finding something specific. The time I have spent looking for it I really could have used spending somewhere else. I do like the Orange County web site better. The buttons and links very easy to navigate. The Social Studies Dept. does a pretty good job updating the website with current lesson plans based on what we need. Example: Black History Month lessons. I am also happy that our textbook companies are helping with the implementation of technology in the classroom.