It’s no secret that there are heaps of useless websites on the Internet—and it is an endless challenge to sift through the rubbish to get what we really need. Fortunately, Web 2.0 has recently evolved to appeal to niche markets—and one of them is education.
The lives of teachers, professors and students are hard enough as it is with demanding hours, straining subject matter and endless research. There are many great search engines that can ease the strain of these pressures. I’ve picked out my favorite ones for college students and higher education professionals that offer functionality that attempts to traverse the invisible web and uncover hidden resources for researching.
A 2009 Codi Award Finalist, iSeek is a great search engine for students, teachers and administrators. Simply ask a question or enter search topics or tools and iSEEK will pull from scholastic sources to find exactly what you are looking for. The search engine is safe, intelligent and time–saving—and it draws from trusted resources from universities, government and established non–commercial sites.
In this day and age everything is online—even books. Google Book Search allows web users to peruse though an index of thousands of books, from popular titles to old, to find pages that include your search terms. Once you find the book you are looking for, you can browse through pages, find online reviews and learn where you can get a hard copy. From bibliographies to lesson plans, the pool of thousands of books can help students and teachers reach their educational goals.
It’s no secret that Google is always one step ahead—and this holds true for their custom search engine tool. Google Custom Search Engine is a research tool where users can create a customized search to probe across specified sites. All you need to do is select the websites and pages you'd like to search from—then Google will do the dirty work. The ability to narrow down the pool of sources can really help students and teachers work efficiently on the web.
Last Google application, I swear! Google Scholar was created as a tool to congregate scholarly literature on the web. From one place, students have the ability to hunt for peer–reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.
Populated by the U.S. Department of Education, the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is a great tool for academic research with more than 1.3 million bibliographic records of articles and online materials. ERIC provides access to an extensive body of education–related literature including journal articles, books, research syntheses, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers and more. With more than eight million searches each month —it’s no wonder why this search engine is a great web source for education.
Created in the late 90s by the U.S. Federal Government, the Federal Resources for Academic Excellence (FREE) makes it easier to find teaching and learning resources. More than 1,500 federally supported resources are hosted on this search engine on topics including: arts & music, health & physical education, language arts, math and U.S. History.
Scirus is a leading search engine for science students on the web. This search engine has a comprehensive database of more than 350 million scientific–related pages including: academic journals, websites, scientists' homepages, pre–print server material, patents and institutional repository. Moreover, the site allows users to locate technical and medical data, find current reports, search through peer–reviewed articles and examine patents through a selective search engine.
With thousands of websites on the internet, it is often difficult to find the right sources when it comes to researching—but with Intute’s help, your studies can be a little easier. Intute is a free search engine based in the UK that allows students to search an array of academic sources by subject. The search engine’s subject specialists review and evaluate thousands of resources to help users choose the key websites in a range of academic topics. In addition to the comprehensive search engine, Intute has 60 free online tutorials written by college professors and librarians to develop your Internet research skills.
Virtual Learning Resources Center (VLRC) is an online index that hosts thousands of scholarly websites, all of which are selected by teachers and librarians from around the globe. The site provides students and teachers with current, valid information for school and university academic projects using an index of more than 10,000 web pages gathered from research portals, universities and library Internet subject guides recommended by teachers and librarians. Areas represented in this search engine include : full–text magazines, newspapers, electronic text archives, art history, biography, biology, career information, psychology, history, government information, literature, medicine, social sciences, legislation, art, crime, history, economics, education, writing, foreign languages, geography, genealogy, government, literature, mathematics, music, science and technology.
10) American Memory
History majors: take not of this search engine. American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s database of more than nine million digitized documents, sound recordings, images, maps, and other American primary sources. This free and open access site includes sound recordings, images, prints, maps and articles that document United States history and culture. This search engine is the go–to source for American history.
11) Noodle Tools
Noodle Tools is a service that helps students find references for papers or projects. Users can choose the best search for your information need based on an analysis of your topic or sift through the database of how–to articles. This site is widely used among college institutions, as it provides not only an all–inclusive search functionality, but also a citation generator for bibliographies in MLA, APA, or Chicago style.
Clusty is the brainchild of three Carnegie Mellon University scientists who have tackled the problem of information overload in web searching. Rather than generating search results from all types of internet sources, Clusty clusters (hence its name) keyword searches to include the best results for academic discovery. Search clusters include: web, news, images, Wikipedia, blogs, shopping, government and labs. Simply type your search terms, then clustered search results will appear, citing specific scholarly sources and other search engine sites.
Instead of sifting through hundreds of books at the library, just pop in front of your laptop and navigate to WorldCat—a site where you search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby. Whether it’s popular books, music CDs and videos—WorldCat will help you locate the materials for your next paper or project. You can also discover many new kinds of digital content, such as downloadable audiobooks. You may also find article citations with links to full text, authoritative research materials and digital versions of rare items that aren't available to the public.
A librarian's forte is research—and this search engine has channeled their expertise to a site called Librarians Internet Index. The search engine is a well–annotated directory of web resources hand–picked by librarians. It has over 20,000 records representing high–quality websites from topics ranging from technology to social science.
Infomine is a librarian–built virtual library of internet resources relevant to faculty, students and research staff at the collegiate level. This site narrows searches to a comprehensive academic virtual library filled with websites, databases, electronic journals, electronic books and directories of researchers. Librarians from the University of California, Wake Forest University, California State University, the University of Detroit – Mercy, and other universities and colleges have contributed to building Infomine.