Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 11 - Boolify

Welcome Back!


Today's Challenge assignment is on Boolify!

"Librarians, teachers and parents have told us how hard it is for students to understand web searching. Boolify helps students bridge that gap by visualizing the process and letting students interact with the abstract concept behind the search process in a tangible and hands-on way."

Boolify is a K-12 audience search tool which helps train people on the use of the Boolean Search Operators "and", "not" & "or" for standard internet searches. Boolify combines these search operators with a visual jigsaw puzzle approach. By adding and taking away puzzle pieces that represent search words and each of these operators, the students can visually see the effect that they have on the results of a particular web search.

Take a look at the following video.



As an added benefit, since Boolify is intended for K-12 audiences it runs on strict filters to help restrict inappropriate websites.

There are a couple of lessons on the website that are available in Google Docs. These lessons are straight forward and basic, but are good at showing the basic functions of the tool.

Boolify has been promoted by several sites and blogs, here are a few:

Note: Boolify recently underwent a couple of changes listed below.
1. Boolify now uses the search engine Bing instead of Google.
2. The number of results is no longer listed for the search.
For more info on the changes click here.

Your assignment:
1. Navigate to Boolify.org
2. Press all the buttons and try it out. No sign-ins, no accounts, no downloads...
3. Comment on your take-aways...

38 comments:

  1. I like that this is just a web-based service, no account needed. I also like the visuals. While it is great for elementary (with the whole puzzle approach) it is also great for helping higher learners (middle and high schoolers) think logically about what they're looking for.

    I also like how it organizes itself. "Ands" go with the main search and "ors" build off to the side, showing we can use multiple terms for the same idea or word.

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  2. Interesting. Not really sure how I would use this in the Math part though. I could see how this would help students in understanding how web searches do work. Some students get so frustrated because they cannot find something even though they have what they want typed in. They need to realize that key words such as and or and not are very useful in getting to exactly what they want!

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  3. Interesting choice of tool, especially for those who haven't been trained on how to search. I have students who input full questions and then ask why they didn't find anything. This will help them to understand you only need to search for the "pieces" of the question. Also, I think this tool would have helped me to learn how to search. I didn't actually learn this skill until college and maybe that was a tad bit late.

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  4. I like the fact that you don't have to create an account, as that is an extra step that often takes more time than I am willing to spend in my 9 weeks classes. I can see this as something I might share with my 6th grade homeroom at the beginning of the year. I use those first few weeks in homeroom to help them out with organizational and study skills - this would be a good tool to show them.

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  5. Okay, I have to admit, I must be a Google snob. I really dislike Bing and the fact that this tool uses Bing as its search engine really disappoints me. I like the concept and it certainly would help visual learners in the elementary grades. However, I spend a couple of days each year on searching and researching the web with my students. My students know where to find Google and how to use it properly. I think I would have a hard time ever moving away from Google as my primary search engine. It does such a good job of prioritizing search results and eliminating unwanted ads.

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  6. I like the visuals. I like Matt am so use to using google that myself it was different. I am interested in using this with the kiddos to see what their reactions are, they may like it better. I noticed when I tried to search for a topic such as cats and then I added big cats (this is something I thought my kids would type in thinking they would get lion, cheetah, etc. I got sites advertising for animal rescue fundraising. When I did the same search on google I got more information on large cats such as the cheetah, lion, etc.

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  7. Now that is really neat!!!! I just tried it out and I saw two things on there that I really liked.

    First, I liked how it searched as you built. This gives the students a chance to see how to structure the search and make it work, or prevent it from working well, for you.

    Secondly, I really like the colorful, easy to use buttons. They are attractive and make sense. Way to go Boolify!!!!

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  8. I agree that this would be a great tool to help students visualize what they are searching. For older students, writing a research paper would be a great opportunity to show this way of searching, especially in an inclusion classroom.

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  9. I wish I would have had this last week when my students did an online search for Benjamin Franklin and his inventions. I had to spend the time looking for appropriate sites for them to pick from and then type in. This sounds like it would work better. I am an inclusion room and can see the puzzle and color oraganization being a big help to them. I am also a Google fan but willing to try anything once if it will help the students. Maybe Google will create something similar soon.

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  10. There are several things I like about Boolify. I agree with everyone before me that it is great you don't have to create an account. I also like the visual aspect. When students search using Boolify, they can see exactly why certain websites are showing up and others are not. It is a great search tool for visual learners.
    I have to agree with Matt and Laura. I dislike Bing and wish it would use google instead.
    I could see using this in the future, but more for specific students than a whole class. It doesn't really apply to math, but I could see having students use it in Chemistry.

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  11. I don't know about the students, but I will really appreciate using it to search. It is always nice to find a new search engine or a way to filter out useless data. We do not really use search engines in my band and orchestra classes, but it would be useful in a general music class.

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  12. This would certainly give students some practice in using the logic of searching for information on the web. I enjoyed the video of what looked like 3rd graders making logical decisions about how to refine an internet search and more easily get to the information being sought.

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  14. This is a great tool. It can be very helpful when trying to find something specific by only using a few words. I like that is has a filter built in so that nothing inappropriate pops up.

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  15. What a neat tool! I love this tool. It seems like a wonderful way to teach the students how to search. I appreciate the filter that keeps inappropriate material from popping up. The lessons on GoogleDocs are an added bonus!

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  16. This is a great way for teaching elementary students how to search. It's nice to not have to create an account, just click and go!

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  17. First off, Great job everyone on making it through ten days of the Challenge!

    I like that Boolify is a simple way to teach the use of Boolean search operators. Matt, Laura and others on "Google vs. Bing" ,remember that boolean operators "and, not & or" work on every search engine. If you want to teach your students how to use these terms, you can also do that on Google and you can turn on the safe search feature. This would be just about the same thing without the puzzle pieces.

    Just a thought....Additional comments?

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  18. After playing with this for a few minutes, I already see so many applications for elementary students. I have to wonder where this was back when I had 1st graders! I do think it is a bit too elementary for most middle grade students, although they often surprise me. I do see where this would be excellent for ESL and ELL students, as well as inclusion classes. Part of me wishes it worked for addition, such as "12 and 11," and it would give the answer of 23. Or that could just be the math geek in me. Overall, a wonderful tool.

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  19. Yay for filters! This will be perfect for elementary when netbooks make it down our way :) This will definitely be a great starter tool for the younger ones. I like how easy it is. I can see myself using this!

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  20. I can see how this would be a very good tool when teaching the students how to search early on. The visuals would allow them to really see what they are searching for. I also liked that this wasn’t something that you had to sign up for, download or remember another password. It is something that could be used in an all group lesson and well as individual usage. I really think that this is a beginner’s search tool.

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  21. This is such a great tool for researching and understanding resources. I wish that I would have had something like this as I was first learning that there are operators for searches. I could see myself using this tool as I get into classrooms and talk about how to be savvy online and digital citizenship. Thanks for sharing!

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  22. This is wonderful to teach elementary students how and why they are searching and how to specify what they are looking for.
    I like this one!

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  23. I Looked at the assignment yesterday and immediately thought "this isn't going to apply to me" because I am not in a classroom. But what I notice is that it can help someone at any age make their searches more precise. This is helpful for research on any topic, but also keeps you from getting extraneous results that may only be tangentially related. Any search still provides more information than I am personally willing to dig into, but at least this narrows the findings to something more manageable and relevant.

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  24. Very cool for the visual learner. I can't wait to show this to my 2nd grade daughter to help her better understand how the search process works. This is a great tool for lower level or inclusion students to help them organize their thoughts. I personally am not a fan of Bing for search engines however.

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  25. I really like how visual this is, especially for young learners. However, when I tried to do my own search for mentor texts for questioning and synthesizing, it did not yield as many useful links as a Google search.

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  26. I could see some potential to use this in Geometry proofs in helping students think through process. I will have to explore this more when I have the time :)

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  27. As I read the comments, i kept thinking to myself how little any of us know interms of how search engines work. This tool is nice in that it helps us to visualize the general process of searching.

    I think a good next step would be to dive deeply into the advanced search options of our favorite search engines. I am also a Google fan, but the algorithms that Google uses have recently been criticized for silo-ing information that we read, so that we are only confronted with sources that confirm our preferences and ideas, rather than challenging them.

    While this concern is a far cry from the need to just be able to search effectively, it is a natural extension of the concept. How do the engines that we search determine the information that is shared within the first few pages of links?

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  28. Boolify is a neat site to research topics more precisely and effectively. I agree that it is visually appealing and would help students see how to narrow their search. This is probably not a site that would be used very often in my math class. We do some research on the relevance of concepts, but not sure that it would be necessary to use boolify for this type of search.

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  29. Boolify is a cool site to research and help adults and students to be more effective at it. I can see that you would out grow this site, but a great place to begin.

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  30. I really like Boolify. I am going to show it to my kids tomorrow. They struggle with finding relevant information when researching and tend to choose the first or second site on the list.
    As others have stated, I prefer Google as well, but I think this tool will be beneficial for my middle school students. It's easy and colorful and they still like that that kind of stuff.

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  31. All,

    What a cool challenge!

    Your comments (found via RSS) are helpful to read as we consider where Boolify is now, and where we can take it in the future (don't be shy about critique - no web teaching tool is perfect!).

    Of the many great comments, one in particular (by Tim) merits a little highlighting:

    "As I read the comments, i kept thinking to myself how little any of us know interms of how search engines work"

    At Public Learning Media, we believe this is a central current and future literacy. To be fluent in the digital medium, we must to understand how these systems really work.

    So, not only are we interested in helping educators understand how search works (it's complex!), we're also interested in teaching more generally about how the internet, and its networked interrelatedness, works.

    The first resource in this series will be called Engineering the Net - http://engineeringthenet.org/ - but it's not quite ready yet (Spring, 2012).

    In the meantime, some of the videos produced by Howard Rheingold are particularly relevant, e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6UKWozzVRM .

    Cheers & all the best,
    --Dave / Public Learning Media

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  32. I think I will use Boolify for myself to find all my favorite websites! I am excited to introduce it to several of my students. It will be less steps and more efficient for them.

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  33. This is a really cool tool to teach students how to research, and how searching the internet works. It would even lead to a good discussion on 'thinking like a computer' and how to tackle a problem.

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  34. This is definately a good tool to introduce students to research. I can also use this to find good resources for the students. It should cut researching time shorter than it normally is.

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  35. I like the look of the search and think it will be less intimidating to the students learning to search. I think it will be a great tool to use when starting a research project. I too, wish it would incorporate google, as I am used to that, but there is always room to learn myself, and bing is one of those things I should become more comfortable with. I also wish the number of results would update as you add pieces to the puzzle. I think this would be a nice feature that could show the students if they are making good search choices and eliminating unwanted items. I still think they could learn a lot about better ways to search which has been a challenge I think for many people.

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  36. This is a good tool for beginners and the more experienced as well. As mentioned earlier even those of us who search everyday know very little about how the search process works.

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  37. boolify.org closed down, but as a public service we are hosting the software on KidzSearch.com. Just click on the boolify link or use http://www.kidzsearch.com/boolify

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  38. boolify.org closed down, but as a public service we are hosting the software on KidzSearch.com. Just click on the boolify link or use http://www.kidzsearch.com/boolify

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