the future of libraries in the digital age
Your Name and Title:
Library, School, or Organization Name:
Google, Search Education
Area of the World from Which You Will Present:
Mt. View, CA, USA
Language in Which You Will Present:
School librarians, instructional librarians, reference librarians
Short Session Description (one line):
Draw upon your multiple literacies to become a stronger online searcher.
Full Session Description (as long as you would like):
In digital retrieval tools, keyword selection is puzzling to most information seekers, and operators even more so. We can teach these skills in our classes, but they often do not really stick. However, our users have a powerful arsenal on which to draw—their prior interactions with all kinds of information in a wide variety of media. By learning to tap into the multiple literacies they possess, and becoming more consciously observant of the sources they use, students and other information seekers can find better matches for their information needs much more quickly (and with less satisficing) than before.
Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:
I am very pleased to be part of this initiative. I hope WILMA is a great success!
Hello Ruth--I would be very interested to hear more about your experience! Please tell us about it!
I work in an academic library. Information literacy is taught to first year students embedded in communication skills courses. We are therefore allocated limited amounts of time, but nonetheless, this is a good start. We cover information sources, information search strategies and the basics of referencing. In teaching search strategies, the common experience is the users are accustomed to searching Google with complete sentences e.g. Discuss the role of IT in the hospitality industry. Molding them to think in terms of keywords has proved to be an uphill 'non-sticky' task as evidenced in follow up sessions covering Boolean operators. In some instances, it turns 'disastrous!' when users, after attaining some basic literacy combine all wrong 'keywords', and hence get more irrelevant results, and revert back to their old strategies. Am keen to find out what these 'multiple literacies' are and how they relate to the search experience.
Thank you, that is very interesting to hear! We do find that selecting keywords is perhaps the hardest of all skills related to search. Typing in full sentences is entirely typical, as you say. It is interesting, since the problem has usually been framed as "Typing in the whole question," and you make an excellent point that--on the college level--the prompts are often not actually questions.
This matters because we usually think in terms of how typing in questions prompts Q&A site answers. Ranking gives preference to pages which match your keywords, in close proximity to each other, in the order you enter them, and preferably in the title--this tends to be very powerful for surfacing pages that really match searcher needs, but in an academic context becomes problematic, since Q&A sites (which can be very useful in many circumstances, but are not widely considered scholarly sources--though I do teach students to use them as stepping stone sources, but that is another conversation) tend to put the question as the title of the page, they tend to be an extremely good algorithmic match for fully entered questions.
Same problem arises when educators give fill-in-the-blank homework, and you watch kids type in the whole sentence, including the blank.
I love the prompt you gave above. The issues it brings forth are completely different than those laid out here. Would it be ok if I share it with our whole group tomorrow?
You've really hit the nail on the head. Ranking algorithms for Google are pretty advanced and they do a great job in proximity matching. When a similar strategy is employed in databases, the results are often disappointing. (Sometimes I wish patrons could just find without seeking. Elusive, right?) Am honored in your suggestion of sharing this experience in tomorrow's session. :)
Hi--published the full, original deck for the talk here:
At the bottom of the screen you should see "Actions," where you can download the presentation, if you desire.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. It is under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike.