While many teachers embrace the chaos of digital research (it is the “real world,” after all), for others setting students loose on Google is a recipe for a research project chock-full of Yahoo! Answers and other less-than-ideal information sources. While evaluating the credibility of information is an important part of any research project, giving your students proper tools to do the cognitive heavy lifting you’d like them to can be just as important.
Luckily, Google gives you the option to customize students’ search experience to rope off certain sections of the internet, or to gently emphasize others. (In fact, you could even have students create their own custom search engine as a part of the project itself.)
Below is an overview of the steps, from naming the search engine and choosing the sites you’d like students to select from, to customizing search features and sharing the link with students.
How To Create A Custom Search Engine For Your Students
1. Click Google Custom Search
2. Click “New Search Engine”
3. Add the sites you’d like to the students to be able to search from. We added Britannica, the Library of Congress, goorulearning, and learni.st as a starting point.
4. Alter the options to fit your needs–look and feel, whether you want students to be able to search only the sites you included, or if you’d just like Google’s search algorithm to simply emphasize those sites more than others. (This is a useful feature!)
You can also add specific refinements to fit your research project needs by including synonyms of critical search terms, turning autocomplete on or off, restricting content, exclude certain sites (we’re looking at you, Yahoo! Answers), etc.
5. After naming your custom search engine and setting the features, click “public URL” and share it with your students through email, social media, or even write it on a handout.
Image attribution flickr user davidortez