Google Search Evaluation

Key Gaming Idea: Design motivating activities that compel students to evaluate information.

An important element of Google Search is evaluating the information that is found. Rather than trying to integrate all aspects of evaluation into one lesson, design a series of games or games with levels that look at different aspecs of evalution.

In her article Search Engine Results as the First Defense of Authority, Natasha Bergson-Michelson (2010) identified three issues that will motivate students to learn good search strategies:

  1. Their frustration when a click yields a page different from what they expected.
  2. Their intense desire not to feel brainwashed.
  3. Their passion for participation through voting for content.

Focus on just one aspect of evaluation rather than all the areas. Use the ABCDs to help students remember: authority & accuracy, balance, currency, and depth.

Google Game Ideas

slurpSERP SLURP Challenge. Bergson-Michelson (2010) suggests that student frustrations begin when they click before they predict what they will find on a particular page. Rather than clicking down the page, she suggests teaching students to read the snippet and ask themselves to "what do I think will be on this page?" Students need to use the title, description, and URL in their prediction. Can you guess which site will contain the best information? Take the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) SLURP Challenge. In teams, students go to the same search. They each pick the page from the first page of results they think will have the best information. They write down their choice, but don't show the group). After looking at each page, each person votes on the best page. A person can't vote for their own page. Which page will you slurp? Pick the one that tastes the best! Will you slurp the snippet below?


wolfWerewolf Websites. Some websites look great on the outside, but once you start digging deeper you realize that they're not what they appear.

What looks like a pro-environmental website may turn into an advertisement for "clean coal". Students need to distinguish between different types of website such as forums, blogs, wikis, advertisements, and informational pages. This will help them determine the types of information that will be found on the page. When evaluating blogs, they can look at the profile of the author. On information pages, they can look for the ABOUT page. The key is getting students to think about who created the content and why.

sneakySneaky Sponsors. Sometimes websites have a sneaky way to get you to the sales sites. Most students recognize the advertisements that appear along the side of web pages. However many may be missing the embedded ads. Ask students to look for sponsored links, sponsored sites, website partners, and other ads in web pages. Direct them to find a sneaky example of advertising that some people might miss. Ask them to think about why it's important to distinguish ads from other content. Print and post the sneakiest or most annoying ads. Vote for favorites and invent an award for the worst.

Forensic Science Infographic Game. Begin with an infographic and ask students to verify the content. Go to Forensic Science for a list of infographics. Choose one infographic and find three sources that confirm or refute some aspect of the infographic. Use a tool like Twiddla to write on websites.

SWAT Game. swatConsider designing a set of criteria that fits the needs of your students. For instance, a media specialist in Ohio (Pete Hildebrandt) created the SWAT approach for his students (download the PowerPoint overview).

Use a website like the American Museum of Natural History Ology pages to model this idea.

Use the PowerPoint presentation to get students involved in the theme. Then introduce the Google SWAT game.

Goal. Complete a series of website evaluation missions. Collect SWAT cards along the way. Level up by moving through the SWAT team ranks to become commander. Everyone could end up being a Commander!


Action, Attitude Feedback.

small blockAdapt one of these game ideas or create your own. Focus on specific evaluation skills. How will these skills be embedded in the game?

Hoaxes and Fake Sites

gulpStudents need to distinguish fact from fiction from fake. Unfortunately, most students aren't very concerned about accuracy, they're simply seeking an answer to a question or a funny photo to put on Facebook. Get them interested in asking themselves about accuracy.

Learning to identify fiction, hoaxes and fake sites is an important skill. How can you tell?

Explore the Google Content fake sites.

Google Fake Sites

small blockDesign an game that involves voting for your favorite Google Fake Site and inventing one for this April Fool's Day. Compare the Google Fake Sites with other fake sites.

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