Going Experimental

A few days ago I heard about a new search interface Google is trying out with a few users. The Google web page about their experiment states:

This experiment lets you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results. When you search for the same keywords again, you’ll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you’ve made. Note that this is an experimental feature and may be available for only a few weeks.

When I first read about the experiment I thought, well that sounds cool. But, then as I thought about it some more I realized that this experiment, once it’s available to more of us, could really have an impact on how teens use Google for research. For example:

  • Giving teens a chance to specifically state that a site on a results list is useful or not means they will have to spend some time thinking about their research needs, how to gauge usefulness, and how evaluate content.
  • By having the ability to re-order items in a results list, teens get a chance to prioritize their research needs. They get to ask, “how important is this information to my topic?” And, “Is the info. on this site the first thing I want to look at, or is it something that I might want to look at later on in the process?”
  • Allowing teens to let Google know about web sites they’ve already found that are useful for their research needs, is a great way to motivate teens to find good sites. The fact that they can inform Google (as well as Google informing then) should prove to be a great motivating tool.

Of course, since the experiment is not yet available to a large group of people, it’s not possible to go into full detail of the potential benefits of this new Google feature. Keep an eye out for what’s to come from Google. This could be a great way to positively integrate information seeking skills learning for teens (and adults) with a tool of choice.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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