Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Swicki: The Best Search Engine for the Classroom

Several weeks ago I came across a post on another blog about a tool called a swicki, or a community powered search engine. After checking it out, I created my own and stuck it at the top of my classroom blog. Since then, it has become an invaluable tool.

So what makes it such a great tool? I like it for these reasons:
  • Complete Control: As creator of the swicki I have complete control of the search engine.
    • I can promote sites that I know are useful, or exclude sites that are not relevant or that I don't want my kids to search. Click here to see the sites I promoted for a search I created on Ancient Greece. The sites with the next to them are promoted sites. Because I checked out the sites ahead of time, my students wasted no time trying to find information on sites that are either too advanced for them or have nothing worth reading.
    • I can add one or two keywords that pertain to my swicki (mine are kids & teachers) to all of my searches. For instance, if my students search for Greece, the keywords kids and teachers are automatically added to that search.
  • The Buzz Cloud: The swicki shows a buzz cloud of what my kids are searching for on my site. Once again, I have control of the tags that are placed here. This means that I can test out different search keywords ahead of time in order to find the one that gives the best results and then place that keyword in the buzz cloud. Students only need to click on it then to find a host of related sites that I have promoted for their research.
  • Customization: I have control of the colors, font, and layout of the swicki.
  • Get the Code: It's easy to cut and paste the code for your swicki into your blog or webpage.
I think a swicki is a fine addition to any teacher's webpage. With one, you can have your kids going to the sites you want them to go to and still getting valuable research skills at the same time.

Check out Future of Math & misterteacher.com.

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3 comments:

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