Power Up your Search (and your Brain)

posted Jan 15, 2013, 6:17 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated Jan 15, 2013, 6:28 PM ]
What is the difference between knowledge and intelligence? Certainly both are important and are interrelated, but they are also fundamentally different.

Knowledge is information. It’s facts. It’s state capitals and president’s names and atomic numbers. Information is good, but on its own it’s not enough.

Intelligence on the other hand is something different, and something more. Intelligence isn’t information, but instead it is the ability to find information, to assess the value of the information, and to draw valid conclusions from the information. Intelligence is critical thinking, the application of knowledge to real life problems.

Knowledge is knowing your math tables. Intelligence is using those math facts to calculate the best value at the grocery store.

Maybe there was a time in our history when knowledge would have been enough to get by, but now more than ever our students need to develop critical thinking. For many reasons...
  • There is too much information - When I was a teenager, the printed Encyclopedia Britannica was made of 29 volumes. Today if Wikipedia were to be printed in a similar manner it would take up 1,746 volumes. The amount of information in our world is constantly growing, and the best someone can hope for is to know a tiny fraction of it. However, anyone can learn how to access the information. 
  • Information is changing - Not only is information growing, it is also changing. The facts a student memorizes in middle school science or social studies class, may become history by the time they graduate. Our world is constantly changing, so it is not enough just to learn. Our students need to learn how to learn. 
  • Careers are changing - We have all heard it said that we are preparing students today for jobs that don’t even exist yet. To be successful in a new and different future, our students need the ability to access, evaluate, and analyze information, whatever it may be.
One critical area for moving from knowledge to intelligence is Internet searching. The Internet is the ultimate collection of information with at least 14 billion websites online. But to harness the power of all this information students (and adults) need to be able to...
  • Locate information - by improving their search skills to narrow in on just what is relevant.
  • Evaluate information - to determine what is most reliable and accurate (as pointed out by the “French model” in the State Farm commercial, not everything on the Internet is true.)
  • Apply information - to use the information to solve real life problems.
There are many excellent resources to help develop digital literacy, and two of them come from Google:

Power Searching with Google

Last year Google released a six-part online video course titled “Power Searching with Google”. The course was run live twice last year, giving participants the ability to interact with other learners. The archived course is still available for anyone to take at their own pace, and is a great place to start. The course can be found at:
http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/course/ps/course.html

Advanced Power Searching with Google

This year Google is releasing the follow up course titled “Advanced Power Searching with Google”. This video course promises “to sharpen your research skills and strengthen your use of advanced Google search techniques to answer complex questions”. The course begins on January 23, 2013, and registration is now open at:
http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/course/aps

I went through the Power Searching class last year, and now am signed up for the Advanced class this year and look forward to digging deeper.

I highly recommend these courses to students and adults alike. Rather than just learning some new information, you will learn new skills that will benefit you today and in the changing future.

Additionally Google has put together a search education site specifically for educators to use with their students including lesson plans on search literacy skills, the “Google a Day” challenges, and more. And here’s at least one thing you won’t have to search for, as all the details can be found at: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/searcheducation/