Because You're Smarter Than Google

In class, I talk to students about online behavior. What kinds of sites are reliable? What kinds are not? And how do we recognize them? This discussion is prompted by the "My Connections" page in their portfolios. This page highlights the online resources that students rely on when it comes to finding information relevant to their field of interest. Students post a wide range of sites from senior schools they may transfer to online journals to newspapers or other sources. 

In thinking about the sites we visit, Google is always an answer. But Google is in reality a search engine, like a filter that gives us what we want. If I were to imagine a conversation with Google, it'd go something like this: "Hey Google, show me some stuff about photography," "here you go, I found over 25 thousand links for you," Google would reply. "Hey but I want stuff from New York only," I'd add, "well then you should've said so" Google would answer. But still, even when the most advanced technology is available to us with large amounts of information, we will always need to think critically where to look for and how to disseminate information that exists on the web. So, here are some pointers for your to be savvier and which will help you tell Google what you really want.

1. The date range

In the Search Tools button, Google offers an option to select the date range to narrow our search, this is particularly helpful if you're looking for a certain how-to tip. For instance, if you're wondering what the privacy settings are on Facebook, you'll be quite angry if Google gives you results from a few years back when all see settings were different. You may find tutorials that were created so far back that they're no longer useful. 

Click on Search Tools and then Any Time to select a specific time frame of articles. Click image to enlarge.

2. The reading level

This is one of my favorite. Google gives you the option to filter results in the page by reading levels. This you can find stuff that's easy to read (and skim) and also more sophisticated pieces that may give you a headache. This is particularly helpful if you're in search for a scientific topic for a paper or simply if you are looking for more reliable sources that you can cite in a college paper.

Click on Search Tools followed by All Results and Reading Level. Google will then filter the results by levels. This is also helpful for ESL users. Click image to enlarge.

3. The fun stuff

Jump to the images search engine on Google and type in Atari breakout. It's a fun game from the early 90's (I think) that will keep you busy at least for a few minutes.

But there is always more. Watch the video below and learn a few more cool tricks that will make your Google search more efficient.

Now that you know how to effectively use Google, let me wrap up this post by reiterating the incredible way in which we can find and access information online these days. Information travels at a speed of a tweet and we must be critical thinkers when it comes to disseminating all that information. In a recent TedTalk, journalist Markham Nolan spoke about the validity of information and how we constantly are fooled with things that are simply lies.  

Be savvy when you search for information and be wiser when processing it.  



I am an ePortfolio instructor working in New York City. I am also a student in the MA program in educational psychology at Hunter College. In my current position, I instruct students how to develop and build their ePortfolio to showcase their academic skills. I also collaborate in professional development seminars with faculty members from various departments on building the curriculum to teach the first year seminar experience. Read more about me.