Sure, Google is the undisputed leader in the world of internet search engines. However, as educators, it’s important to constantly expose our students to a wide variety of tools and teach them one size does not always fit all. Let’s dive in and explore a number of excellent search alternatives, all with specific qualities that work well in various situations.
Hakia is a tremendously powerful semantic search portal. Through its advanced language programming, it expertly finds exactly what you are searching for. Results are displayed in sections including web, news and blogs. In addition, Hakia lists related Twitter posts, images and videos. Having search results from across the web including social media is a major strength of Hakia. Your students will love it.
WolframAlpha is awesome for math! Type in an equation or math related term and you are treated with charts, graphics, solutions and more! Self-described as a dynamic computation engine, and not a search engine, the results are very different than Google. In short, the results are data, not web pages results. Type in a country name and you will get all sorts of data for that country…not websites about that country. A really cool feture is the “sources” link at the bottom of the page. It lists a bibliography of all the sources the data was compiled from.
With a simple, Google-like appearance, DuckDuckGo is a wonderful alternative. When using with students, this is the perfect time to introduce how search engines track our every move. Ask students if they have ever searched with a major search engine and then next website they visited included an advertisement for the exact product they were searching for? How did this happen? DuckDuckGo is filling the niche for people who do not want their search history stored and sold. No information is kept and nothing is sold. The search results are fantastic and comparable to the big search companies.
Boolify is a joy to use with students and a wonderful tool for younger ages. The unique graphical interface helps students (and teachers!) visualize building an effective search string. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce Boolean operators and how they affect search criteria. A large majority of search users do not know how to include Boolean operators to construct effective searches. Try this with your students and you will hear, “Oh, I didn’t know that!” A fun example is to have students search for chocolate chip cookie recipes without nuts.
This might be the most addicting search engine ever! Launch DoodleBuzz and type a search term. Then draw a line, scribble or anything and your results will be populated along your scribble. Try this on your projector and and you will hear an audible gasp from your students. To learn more about a search result, click on it and drag a new “doodle.” If the search result was an article, a preview of the text will be displayed. This is a really cool demonstration on an interactive whiteboard. Honestly, using this site can be a little overwhelming. However, DoodleBuzz is an excellent tool for brainstorming ideas and exploring the connections of content.
What additional search engines you use with your students. Please post a comment below. Thanks for reading the educational technology blog Teach Amazing!