Essential Tools & Tips for Successful Web Searching 2009
Fee: $75 for those in the California library community & Infopeople Partners and $150 for those out-of-state.
(An Infopeople Online Learning Course)
February 24 - March 23, 2009
"Google it" is the way a lot of people find information. Often, we (and our users) "ask Google" and are amazed how often it works. But sometimes we get too much. Or, even when we know the answer is on the web, we cannot construct a search that pulls out just what we need. We get millions of search results and wonder "What next?" We lack a search strategy for navigating the billions of web pages and other stuff that's out there.
- What goes on in search engines? How do they "think" about searching?
- What are today's best search engines after Google? Why are they the best?
- What are the most useful search commands? Will they work beyond Google?
- How can I create searches that effectively zero in on just what I need?
- When is it time to turn from web search engines to subject directories (like lii.org)?
- How can I find good, specific directories on subjects my users or I need to explore?
- Is there a best search strategy for searching for a variety of information?
- How do I deal with the need to evaluate all the stuff on the web quickly?
In this course, you will explore answers to all these questions and more. It offers a comprehensive introduction to the best search engines and general subject directories, to many ways to use them to find information quickly and efficiently, and an overall search strategy applicable to most web searching. It is designed for those who want to refresh their web search skills or are fairly new to web searching. It consolidates the instructor's 12 years of experience teaching web search.
Workshop Description: This four-week online learning course will help you at the reference desk or in any situation where you think, "I bet that's on the web; let's take a look." It is designed to enhance your speed and confidence deciding where to search, why, and how. Through online readings and individual exercises, you will be able to apply and practice the essential tips and tools of web searching. The instructor will provide cheat sheets that can be used after the course.
During the course, you will be doing exercises and taking quizzes to help you verify your grasp of the tips and tools explained in the weekly readings. You will also participate in online discussion forums and have a chance to submit a real question from your own experience to be searched and answered by another student in the class. We will discuss your successes and frustrations with this "ready for anything" exercise in terms of the search strategies offered in this course.
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Module One: The Best Web Search Engines Today
- How search engines work
- Strengths and weaknesses of the best search engines
- Essential search principles shared by almost all search engines
- Module Two: Using Limiter Commands to Focus Your Search Results
- Essential limiter commands and how they work
- Building effective searches using and combining limiter commands
- Module Three: When to Turn to Subject Directories
- The best general subject directories today
- The essentials of evaluating what you find on the web
- Using Google to find specialized subject directories and link-rich pages
- Module Four: Being "Ready for Anything"
- Developing search strategies for different kinds of questions
- Analyzing questions, learning as you go, and remaining flexible
Online Learning Details:
This four-week course will be taught online using the web. When you register, you will receive a registration confirmation that will include the URL to get to the course, as well as a username and password.
Every student proceeds through the online learning modules at his or her own pace. Students should expect to commit to spending a minimum of 2½ to 3 hours per week on this course in order to be successful.
You can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night. However, you will be expected to log in to the course each week to do that week's assignment. We ask that you log in sometime during the first week of the course to begin the course work.
Your instructor will be available for limited consultation support for two weeks after the official end date of a course, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that, to give those who have fallen behind time to work independently on the course. However, you will be expected to accomplish the majority of the course in synchronization with your peers during the first four weeks.
Who Should Take This Course: Anyone from the library community with an interest in improving his or her skills and efficiency at finding information on the Web. This course covers the essentials of using search engines and subject directories, and shows how to integrate them into search strategies to find what you need. It also succinctly covers evaluating web information. It will be followed by an Advanced Searching online course.
This course is taught over the web. You must:
- Be able to save Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe .pdf files to your computer and print them out. (For .doc files, a free Word Viewer is available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en. Search for "Word Viewer." For .pdf files, a free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/main.html).
- Be comfortable navigating on the web and navigating back and forward on a website that uses frames.
- To be most successful in this course you should be willing to share information with your colleagues and be willing to spend time reading and participating in the weekly discussion boards.
System Requirements: The online learning product that Infopeople uses is called Angel. The following are minimum system requirements for using Angel. You will need access to a computer that has at least these specifications to participate in an online course:
- Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Vista
- Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and above
- Phishing Filter disabled (IE 7)
- OS X and above (OS 9 will NOT work with our online learning product)
- Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and above, Safari 2.0 and above
If you are not comfortable with any of the above, please consider taking this course with a colleague who does meet these requirements.
Course Start: This 4-week-long online learning course starts on February 24, 2009.
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