Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Google Custom Search Eye-Opener

We all have more resources than we realized! Follow along to see how you can get even more out of your del.icio.us and/or Diigo accounts.

Summer Podcast Series
I've been listening to several podcasts over the summer. Last night, I listened to Alan November at BLC08 via Bob Sprankle's Bit by Bit podcast. The title is Teaching Zack Webliteracy. I've been hearing people talk about Alan November and BLC over the last year, so I decided to take time to listen to the podcast. The presentation covers a lot of ground. Along the way, it re-pointed me to Google Custom
Search engines.

Google Custom Search Engines
Google now allows anyone to create a custom search engine. I've been thinking about them as a better way to help students find information on the Internet. The basic idea is that you can build a list of websites that you value. Those websites sit under and umbrella of one name. Instead of going to a standard search engine, you can look through your custom search engine. I did it this morning and the first test search sent me here to my blog to share what I've seen.

The Plus and Minus of Social Bookmarks
I have used delicious in three different situations: for my students, for the faculty in my building, and for a training session I do with public school teachers in an alternate route to certification course. It is superior in providing an electronic source list for these individuals. The downfall that I am seeing is that since I am the person creating the list, it works for me.
For a social bookmark to work well, I think the person using it really needs to be the person generating it.

For example: My students are outstanding fro
m K-8 if I tell them go to the eighth grade links and click on the link that says "Wiki Research Wrap-Up Survey". They seem to have a much harder time if I say go back to the copyright wiki. Invariably, they ask which one and I'll tell them it's on the second page of links, the title is "Seventh and Eighth Grade Wiki Project". I'm not complaining. It is much better than before. I know have a list of all the links we used in the 2007-2008 school year. I will add to the links for years to come.

How Can I Improve Things

I am planning on sending a survey out to the teachers in the alternate route class in the next couple of weeks. I am curious to see how many of them ever went back to the delicious account I created for the class.

I'm also not sure how many of the teachers in the building tried our delicious account over the summer after I spent three hours with them the last day of school.

I signed on to Google Reader this morning and clicked on the more menu item at the top of the page, and then clicked even more (see image on the right). This brought me to a massive page of Google offerings. I was looking for the link under Explore and Innovate titled Custom Search.

How Hard Is It?
It was really easy to create the custom search. After choosing the Create a Custom Search Engine button, I filled in a form detailing the name I wanted to give the search engine and the list of links to search. I have 63 links in my Saint Michael Teachers del.icio.us account. In a second tab, I opened delicious, right clicked on each link, and selected Cop
y Link Location from the pop up menu. Returning to the first tab, I right clicked and pasted the link in the sites to search box.

How Wonderful Is It?
Once the search was created, I typed in the following query: "lesson plan" "Google Earth". Here are my results!

These are results I do not have in my delicious links for Google Earth! I am amazed, and astounded, and look forward to testing it out further.

The Final Touch
The original URL looks like this:
I went to MOO URL and gave it a name: searchsms.
I can now give out the following to the teachers: http://www.moourl.com/searchsms which will stand for Search Saint Michael School. It ties it into a nice package.

Have you done anything with custom search? Have you written any blog posts about it? I'd like to know more about how others are using this tool.

Image Citation:
"iPod gathering." nikitac's photostream. 2005 Oct 28. 2008 Jul 22.


  1. Ana,

    Great stuff, and I am glad you are offering your staff many methods to do one job. We have been toying with the idea of Google Custom search engines, and are adding one to the frontpage of our district website. In addition we are going to ask each of our elementary and middle school teachers to accumulate the list of links that crowd their already crowded pages and place them into school-wide search engines. That way, those search engines can sit on the front of the school homepage and save parents and students some valuable research time.

    We should talk about some collaborative creations this year.

  2. Patrick:

    I've been following your posts from BLC. I, too, have been feeling the need to focus intently on how I provide the staff at our school with support. It is my intention to give the teachers more opportunities to take control of their learning. The delicious and custom search are two methods I will promote. With a lot of new technology coming to our school, I have forced myself to think of new methods to share, explore, and use the vast talents of our teachers. I want to share what I've been learning and keep the focus on more on the pedagogy than the tools. I'll be sharing more in the months to come.

    I would be very happy to collaborate in some manner this year. We'll have to talk.