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Honing Your Web Searching Skills

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Want to sharpen your Internet searching skills? A series of "teach yourself" tutorials developed by a group of subject and information experts offers a first-rate learning experience for novices and experts alike.

The Resource Discovery Network (RDN) is a well-known and highly regarded web directory of academic resources, compiled by volunteers working in colleges, universities and related organizations throughout the United Kingdom.

The RDN is also an outstanding gateway to thousands of Invisible Web sites that's as close to a search engine for the hidden web as you're likely to find. Check out "Gateway to the Invisible Web" (link below) for more details on this valuable directory.

In addition to the RDN's web directory, the site also offers a top-notch "Virtual Training Suite" that aims to help anyone develop their Internet information literacy skills.

These free "teach yourself" tutorials offer skills training in a wide range of subject areas. There's a tutorial for most of the subjects taught in universities and colleges. There are also eleven "Further Education" tutorials that focus on non-academic subjects.

How are the Further Education tutorials different? Primarily, they're written by college staff and highlight resources relevant to college students. They're also shorter, more graphical and less academic.

The tutorials offer "any time, any place" training and include quizzes and interactive exercises designed to make the learning experience fun. Each tutorial is organized around four guiding principles:

TOUR key web sites for a subject. Sites included here are chosen specifically to help with essays, course work, research and teaching.

DISCOVER how to search. Emphasis here is placed on the best search tools and techniques for a particular subject.

REVIEW and JUDGE Web sites. Evaluating the quality of information on the web is just as important as knowing how to find information in the first place. Emphasis here is on developing and sharpening critical information skills.

REFLECT and PLAN to work efficiently. Because search engines are easy to use and provide quick results, it's tempting just to jump in and start searching. But this approach often results in a dead-end, or even worse, hours of aimless surfing. Emphasis here is on how to make the most of the Internet for your own study, teaching or research.

Each tutorial takes about 1-2 hours to complete. Alternately, you might prefer to do one chunk at a time during several sittings, or focus on the sections of most relevance to your own needs. Supplementary "Resources for Teachers and Trainers" accompany each tutorial.

The RDN Tutorials web site features a number of design components that make learning even easier.

There's a "Links Basket" that lets you collect your own list of useful Web sites as you work through each tutorial. A "Teaching Pack" offers resources, materials and advice on how to make the most of the RDN Virtual Training Suite.

The Print Friendly icon displays a print-optimized version of tutorial pages, designed to make high quality printouts. For teachers, these pages are suitable for handouts.

Finally, there's a Glossary of Internet and computing jargon.

The RDN Virtual Training Suite is a great resource for improving your searching and internet research skills. Along the way, you'll also likely discover a number of new sites that you'll want to add to your own searching toolkit.

The RDN Virtual Training Suite
http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk/

The Resource Discovery Network
http://www.rdn.ac.uk
In contrast to search engines, the RDN gathers resources which are carefully selected, indexed and described by specialists

Gateway to the Invisible Web
SearchDay, Dec. 4, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd1204-rdn.html
The Resource Discovery Network is an outstanding gateway to thousands of Invisible Web sites that's as close to a search engine for the hidden web as you're likely to find.

The Value of Non-Commercial Web Directories
SearchDay, Jan. 16, 2003
http://www.searchenginewatch.com//searchday/03/sd0116-directories.html
Along with the many commercially built web directories available on the web, several non-commercial options exist which offer the searcher well organized collections of high quality resources.

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