Thursday, September 24, 2009

Parents, this one's for you!

Hello parents of GCMS!  Whether you casually stumbled upon this post or met me at parent night you are all welcome.  I hope you have had a chance to look around the GCMS website and this technology resources page.  Now I would like your feedback!

Leave a comment on this blog post with any question you may have for me.  These can be general questions about technology in the classroom, tech at GCMS, this website, or just wanting to know more about me!  Also feel free to leave any feedback you may have.  What do you like about the things we are doing with technology at GCMS, what would be something you'd like to see us try out?  Or anything else you may think of.

Thank you for all the great support you give to your children, I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Visual Search Engines

In case you haven’t already realized, the internet is huge.  Yes, I understand that is probably the most obvious statement since “water is wet,” but dealing with this fact is a relevant issue to anyone associated with education.  Over the years search engines have become the primary means of dealing with the massive cloud that is the Internet.  One of the biggest changes I see in the newest generation of search engines is they are going visual.  Here’s a few of the search engines out there that break the mold of just giving you a list.


I’m putting this one at the top because it really caught my attention.  This is one of the most intelligent search engines that I have seen.  Rather than giving you a list of websites based on a keyword search, it finds different topics related to your search term and presents them in a color code wheel of information.

For example, let’s say you want to learn more about Andrew Jackson.  You begin by typing his name into the box in the middle of the wheel.  The result will be what you see in the picture above.  Different topics relating to Andrew Jackson, such as the Presidency, the Democratic Party, even smallpox will be displayed in the wheel.  Moving your mouse over any of these topics will show how they are related to your initial search topic.  You can also see an instant web or image search on any of these topics.  If you want to investigate one of the topics more fully, you can drag it to the center of the wheel and Eyeplorer will present a new wheel with topics relating to the one you chose.

What I appreciate most about this search engine is that it reveals how information is related.  Rather than just scouring the internet for a keyword match, Eyeplorer connects concepts and ideas, and walks students through the process by providing a visual representation.

Search Cube


This search engine can basically be explained by the screenshot.  The results of a Google powered web search are organized into a cube that you can rotate using the arrow keys on your keyboard.  Moving your mouse over a particular square on the cube gives you a preview of the website to the right of the cube.  I find this search engine to be a good way to quickly scan for different pictures or media.



KartOO organizes search results into either a more traditional list or a map, as seen above.  One feature I like about this engine is that by clicking on OPTIONS in the top right of the screen you can do a great deal of customizing your search and how the results are displayed.  Compared to EyePlorer I don’t think this one is as powerful, but still a very useful alternative to the traditional search engine.

Wrapping Up

Like I said, water is wet, ice is cold, and the internet is huge.  I think many of us are at a point where we go straight to a Google search and look no further than the first page of links.  I encourage you to try out some of these other tools and see where they lead!