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Searching For Learning Resources

When you are selecting learning resources from the results of your World Wide Web searching your emphasis should be on QUALITY not QUANTITY. There is a lot of material on the World Wide Web (14 million articles in Wikipedia) so you can afford to be selective. A good strategy is to find a single quality source and then look at what other content that source 'points' to.

One of the key criteria for resource evaluation is the credibility of the resource's author - Who is the author, Is there an Author's profile, Where does the author work, Are there links to other resources produced by the author? These questions are particularly important when you are using social media as you may wish to include and follow credible authors in your learning network via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

The adjoining slideshow outlines criteria you can use for evaluating web based learning resources.


8 must-reads detail how to verify information from social media .

Using Google To Find Resources

Using the Google search engine to locate information and resources.
Since its in 1998, Google has rapidly grown to be the most popular search engine
for using the Internet to locate resources on the World Wide Web.

Here are links to resources to help you 'Get More Out Of Google":

Click here to find out how to do a basic Google search.

Click here to access the Google Guide online interactive tutorial

Examples of Google searching using advanced operators

12 Quick tips to search Google like an expert
Click this image to view search improvement tips
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The two most commonly used alternative search engines to Google are BING and YAHOO.
Click here to experiment with a collection of the Web's best search engines.
Click here to access a "Short And Easy Search Engine Tutorial" from Pandia
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Searching For Blogs

Writing a blog shows evidence of being a reflective practitioner. There is a wealth of quality information out there. Many educators of all experience levels and content areas offer their knowledge freely; it is an amazing and deep resource. Click here to go to Google's search engine specifically for finding blogs.

You can assess the quality of the blog by reading the Blogger's profile, reviewing the quality and regularity of posts and reviewing other services that the blog may offer. When you find a blog that you consider to be a quality learning resource you can add the blog your library's Home Page (iGoogle) and add the author's name to your Twitter network.
Click here to view a list of 23 blog directories.

Searching For Podcasts

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Podcast is derived from the terms "iPod" and "broadcast". It is attributed to the original creators of podcasting who used iPods to listen to their RSS broadcasts. Podcasts can update as often as the author has time to make a recording.
Podcasting is a form of audio broadcasting on the Internet. The reason it became linked with the iPod in name was because people download podcasts (audio shows) to listen to on their iPods. However you don’t have to listen to podcasts only on iPods; you can use your computer with some music software such as Windows built-in Media Player or other portable music players (iPod competitors). It really doesn’t matter, as long as you have some way to play music on your computer you will be able to listen to podcasts. Click here to go to the DoubleTwist Podcasts search engine – registration is not required

Searching For Videos

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YouTube is the most commonly used social media site for finding videos. It’s matured into one of the biggest resources for educational content ever and it’s likely got you need if you do a little digging. There’s tons of reasons YouTube should be a part of lifelong learning. You can create your lifelong learning video library by creating a YouTube Playlist.

Playlists are YouTube’s way of allowing you to organise videos on the YouTube site: a playlist is a series of videos you put together and you get to choose the order. When one video ends, the playlist plays the next video without offering ‘related videos’, thus creating a curated video learning environment for you.
Click here to view a YouTube video on how to create a YouTube playlist

The KAHN ACADEMY is an excellent source of educational videos. All of the site's resources are available to anyone. Particularly if you are a lifelong learner or student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

Other popular video search engines are TeacherTube and Google Videos

Searching For Presentations

SlideShare is an online social network for sharing presentations and documents. Slideshare is a great source for slideshows and is considered to be similar to YouTube, but for slideshows.
Learners can favorite and embed presentations as well as share them on other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatives to Slideshare include:

Scribd is a social publishing site, where tens of millions of people share original writings and documents. You can submit documents of various formats, and make them private or viewable by anyone.

Issuu is the leading digital publishing platform delivering exceptional reading experiences of magazines, catalogs, and newspapers. Millions of people have uploaded their best publications to create beautiful digital editions.


Using DIGG

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Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. Every story has a Digg button. Along with that button is a number that is the number of people from the Digg community who have said they like that or “Digg that story”.Digg is a source of great stories, hard to find tutorials, and practical tips.
Click here to go to Digg – registration is not required unless you wish to submit ‘stories’.

Using TWITTER To Find Information

Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting – your learning topic/goals. Some people never tweet, they simply use Twitter as a way to get the latest information on their interests.

At the heart of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters in length and will often contain links to a recommended resource. You can use Twitter’s Search Window to search by keyword – “Dixieland Jazz Musicians”, a person’s name – Brian Thacker, or a topic by preceding the search term with the hash tag (#) symbol - # Jazz.

When you find a ‘quality’ tweeter you can follow that person’s tweets. Following someone simply means receiving their Twitter updates. When you follow someone, every time they post a new message, it will appear on your Twitter home page or phone app. New messages are added to your home page as people post them, so you always get the updates in real time.
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Click here to go to Twitter and create an account.
Enter the names and select FOLLOW for 'experts'
you have found when searching for learning resources.
This widget is displaying in real time tweets for the search term 'dixieland jazz'


Using SQUIDOO

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Squidoo is a community website that allows users to create pages (called lenses) for subjects of interest. Squidoo had 2 million hand-built lenses as of October, 2011.
Lenses are much like blog posts, except they're on a single subject. The users who create lenses are called "lensmasters". A lensmaster can be anyone with an interest in a specific subject; they do not necessarily have to be externally-recognized experts.
You are able to build a LENS (simple webpage) with no experience of design, you simply type the information you want to share and hey presto, you have a ready made webpage that will allow you to get on the world wide web for free.
Click here to go to SQUIDOO – registration is not required unless you wish to submit a ‘LENS’.

Using TRAP.IT

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Trap.itis a new content discovery engine. You can creat TRAPS for multiple topics and add resources to your Trap.it reading lists. Trap.it allows content curators as well as bloggers and web publishers of all kinds to find good quality content on the topics that are of greatest interest to them.

How it works:
a) First you provide a "search" query and Trap.it pulls together for you a dynamic page filled with content on topic.
b) You check the page and if you feel that it provides you with good content you can Trap.it and keep it available in your Trap.it account. That page will update itelf continuously.
c) Then you start voting on which type of stories and resources you find most relevant for your needs and Trap.it starts to improve its suggestions.

Find That File

FindThatFile claims to be the most extensive file search on the Internet. FindThat File is a search engine designed to help you locate documents and media files according to file type. Let's say you want to locate an audio recording of Harry Truman announcing the surrender of Germany in 1945. You can enter your search term in FindThatFile then specify exactly what type of audio file you want to locate.
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Searching For eBooks

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Google eBooks provides access to millions of books in every imaginable category, finding what you want to read on Google eBooks is easy. Nearly three million public domain books are available through Google at no cost. You can easily find these books by browsing in the store using the"Free Classics" shelf, or by searching for Full View books by using the Advanced Book Search. Search the latest index of the world's books. Find millions of great books you can preview or read for free.Click here to go to the Google eBooks store.

Find Books About Places

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mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered "Portland, Maine" I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat.
Click here to go to the MAPFAST search engine.

Finding Free Online Courses

Free courses are available in many fields. There’s actually a huge volume of free coursework available on the Internet–much of it is underutilised because people are unaware that it exists.
Sources of online courses:
  • http://www.courses.com.au/ Courses.com.au is a website with links to a wide range of courses. You can specify the area (postcode) within which you wish to learn.
  • About U is sponsored by the popular information site, About.com. They offer courses on a wide variety of topics ranging from Arts & Literature to Travel (and many topics in between).
  • The MITOpenCourseware project is part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, an organization of many higher education institutions dedicated to providing open learning materials. The MIT site alone contains over 2,000 courses in various fields.
  • Wikiversity is comprised of a large number of learning resources at all levels.
  • 400 free online courses from the world's top universities
  • eHow is an online how-to guide with more than 1 million articles and 170,000 videos offering step-by-step instructions.

Click here to view and use a range of tools for finding online courses in your areas of interest

A short definition of OpenCourseWare. Click the play icon to listen to the definition.