Three years ago, we introduced SweetSearch, A Search Engine for Students. It is a bold concept – a human curated search engine that searches only Web sites that have been evaluated by research experts. We didn’t apply an algorithm or a filter – we created a whitelist of 35,000 Websites. Reviewers have uniformly praised SweetSearch as an outstanding tool for students.
After we launched, we learned of another group of people that may actually appreciate SweetSearch even more – educators. We continually monitor Twitter and education list serves to learn about the specific search needs of educators, and to make sure we meet those needs. The response has been gratifying:
See many more Tweets by educators about SweetSearch.
Teachers are learning that if they search in our reliable universe of sites, they can quickly build their lesson plans, find blogs and advice from fellow educators, and discover primary resources, which are hard to locate using the internal search function of sites such as The Library of Congress or National Archives.
To see typical results for yourself, take a look at the results for these representative terms, then compare them to the results of Google and Bing:
You'll likely find, as Paul Gilster, a technology journalist, wrote in the News Observer about SweetSearch: “Google or Bing may find many of the same sites, but what I've noticed is that some of the better sites for a particular topic wind up deep in their search results, often outranked by Web pages more commonly used but of inferior quality....I was impressed with SweetSearch's focus on credible scholarship and emphasis on primary source materials.”
SweetSearch has integrated Yolink, a tool that highlights keywords, showing where the term is used and in what context, so that anyone can quickly scan a search results page and easily determine which results will be most helpful for a particular task. See how quickly you can evaluate the full first page of 20 results! The search terms and surrounding context can then be saved, with one click, to a Google Doc (with the link included), EasyBib's citation generator, or a social bookmarking service. So you not only can find what you’re looking for in seconds, but you can be sharing it with colleagues moments later.
For Open Education Resource platforms to succeed, they need to be as easy for educators to use as possible. It's not enough to give educators a long, aggregated list of relevant resources of varying quality; the resources need to be expertly curated, and there must be a function for educators to search within these resources.
That is what SweetSearch provides, at no cost.