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Peer Review

Four Nets for Better Searching

by Bernie Dodge


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Aug 12, 2009 by Library and Information Services
Overview: Describes the 4 main strategies of good searching: Narrow, Exact phrases, Trim the URL, look for Similar pages. This strategy spells out NETS.
Type of Material: tutorial
Recommended Uses: This could be used on an individual basis, or as a class or team exercise.
Technical Requirements: web browser, Adobe reader
Identify Major Learning Goals: The four tips to be learned are: the importance of narrowing a topic, how to search for an exact phrase, trimming back a URL when needed and searching for similar pages or sites that link to a page. All but trimming back a URL are easily achieved with the use of Google's Advanced Search page. Learners will perform "good" and "bad" searches using the exercise sheet and compare and contrast their results.
Target Student Population: high school, general college courses that require research.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: basic computer skills

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The tutorial covers the most frequently used features of an Advanced Google search and a very useful technique of trimming or shortening a URL. The linked PDF worksheet provide hands on activity to reinforce the written lessons. The tutorial clearly explains the use of worksheet. A link to a "Specialized Search Engines and Directories" table provides additional useful sites, particularly in education.
Concerns: Learners may have questions on the use of Advanced Google search features not addressed by this tutorial.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Learners will quickly learn how to create precise searches after viewing this short tutorial and practice with the suggested exercises. The progression of of techniques introduced is logical, except for the "trimming the URL" section.
Concerns: Some of the examples in exercises may need updating to include recent topics making them more relevant to learners.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This site is very easy to use and vsually attractive. It has examples of searches which is helpful. At the end it includes a summary of the 4 strategies for better searches. Also, includes a link to specialized search engines and directories.
Concerns: Two versions are available; a single page design and a multi-page layout. The single page layout requires scrolling to view. The multi-page layout would benefit from additional navigational controls to reduce the use of the browser back button for review. Last update was Jan. 22, 2008.

Other Issues and Comments: Both a UK and a Spanish version are also available. The UK version has modified examples for this audience. The Spanish link appeared to go to an incorrect site.