In a new book, veteran instructor Greg Notess showcases the strategies and methods he uses to teach people not just to search, but to maximize their information sleuthing skills.
I’ve often heard people say “searching the web is easy.” True, plugging a few keywords into your favorite search engine doesn’t take much effort or intelligence. But all too often untrained searchers waste lots of time messing around with keyword combinations that just don’t quite hit the mark, or even worse, flail around using completely inappropriate search tools for their information need.
In Teaching Web Search Skills, search pro Greg R. Notess offers a comprehensive guide to the art of searching the web. While the book is designed for instructors looking for effective teaching strategies, it’s also useful for anyone wanting to sharpen their searching chops.
Greg is a gifted instructor, and his approach is thorough but also highly accessible. If you’ve ever seen him present at industry conferences such as Web Search University, you know he has an energetic, often humorous approach that is both enlightening and entertaining. He brings the same style to his new book.
The first six chapters of the book are dedicated to laying the groundwork for teaching web search skills. These chapters, while written for instructors, are also rife with the tips and techniques Greg includes in his live presentations.
For example, in one chapter, “Online Tutorials: Friend or Foe,” Greg covers a number of online learning resources, noting their strengths and mapping out drawbacks and skewering weak areas. If you’re looking to sharpen up your skills by spending some time with free online tutorials, this chapter points to some of the best available on the web.
Chapters seven through ten focus on basic web search skills and how to best teach them. While these really are basic skills, Greg does an excellent job of covering them thoroughly. As with learning to play a musical instrument, it’s important to master the fundamentals before moving on to more technically challenging efforts.
The remaining chapters cover logistical and tactical aspects of teaching web searching skills. The final chapter, “Tales from the Trenches: Anecdotes, Examples and Exercises,” offers dozens of tips based on many years of experience. For anyone presenting to an audience, they’re invaluable nuggets of insight.
Though a talented instructor and presenter in his own right, Greg has strengthened the book by including comments and stories from nearly a dozen experienced search instructors, including SEW’s own Danny Sullivan and Phil Bradley, and alumnus Gary Price.
This collective wisdom enhances the book, and not just by adding additional success strategies. Several of these power searchers comment on the failures they’ve experienced and how they’ve coped with them or would do things differently next time.
Two appendices focus on these trainers. The first appendix provides background and contact information for each trainer. The second offers handouts and training materials—a fantastic resource for anyone doing presentations on web searching.
Teaching Web Search Skills should be required reading for anyone who teaches others to search, no matter how experienced or skilled they may be. The combination of fundamental knowledge and dozens of anecdotes and techniques based on years of experience that Greg has accumulated makes the book a great read.
Teaching Web Search Skills
By Greg R. Notess
Information Today, $29.50