Building Google’s Power-Searching MOOCs #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Tasha Bergson-Michelson

Librarian at Castilleja School, formerly Google search educator

Just because it looks magic doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it.

Google thought it should do a MOOC. Has tools: Youtube, Docs, etc. Can also handle 10 million people at once.

Six hours of content. Wanted to reach a broad audience. Multiple choice/fill in the blank. Semi-synchronous.

Never put a midterm in the middle. Could take it as many times as you like, but had to finish by a certain date. Lots of people complained about that. “Apparently a deadline is not as firm an idea as I thought.”

Five-minute videos plus activity. Offered a text alernative for thsoe with different learning styles.

Videos are hard to edit and it’s hard to get everything in. In the text version, they could include more info.

When writing for 155,000 people, someone will hate every question.

Problem: Google learns from people’s bad queries, so sometimes that would cause the bad query to work for the next person.

People might learn they can search on site:bls.gov and not realize they could do the same thing for census.gov.

People from 196 countries and territories. Questions were too ethnocentric.

Question about whether the word “evolution” occurs in the Google Books copy of On the Origin of Species. Answer differs depending on the edition you search.

Improved each time and never had the same complaint twice.

People learn by watching over someone’s shoulder. How could they emulate that in the MOOC?

People have different ways of doing things.

Made 12 challenges. Didn’t have to do them and didn’t have to do them in numerical order. They required multiple steps and could be solved in multiple ways. Example: identify a feather found on the ground at the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve.

Had to be a right-or-wrong answer or people freaked out. But then you outline your steps, and students could read each other’s answers.

Did Google Hangouts to talk about the challenges.

www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/

Did Advanced Power Searching class.

Text usage was about 50% that of video usage. But it varied by topic.

Fish pedicure / worm therapy divide. Yarnbobmbing was a popular topic. If you don’t know what thousands of people like, go for weird.

Didn’t help students with final challenges. They helped each other.

Start with outcomes:
What do you want students to know? Work backwards from there.

A list of technical skills does not equal competencies.

Format and contents must grow out of objectives.

Create a “big-idea” narrative. Key critical thinking skills. Overarching themes. Tie themes back to actionable skills. Such as, not usually just one way to do things.

Align desired content, user needs, and design constraints. How to talk about these things without delving into library science terminology.

Color filtering: If you search for Bach pictures that are white, you get sheet music.

Tesla: different colors for car vs. person.

Soccer players running around: use green.

This gets people’s attention and makes them listen, not the library science theory.

Test and test again:
Groups can be small. Doesn’t have to hugely formal. Prioritize fixes, fix, and test again.

Some loved the advanced format, some hated it.

Some people spent a lot of time on it, some couldn’t.

Connect with students. Use social media to create a community.

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