Tribute to Randy Pausch.

Randy Pausch passed away today . He’s the 47 yr old college professor who delivered a last lecture titled ‘Really achieving your childhood dreams’ at Carnegie Mellon when he discovered that he had pancreatic cancer with a terminal prognosis. He delivered the lecture in response to what was a hypothetical question  “What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?” Unfortunately for Randy, he knew the question was not hypothetical for him.

Randy has said in many interviews, and in the lecture itself, that he wrote it for his three young children who are 2, 4 and 6.  If there’s one thing you get from listening to Randy speak it’s the understanding that we need to remember what’s really important in our lives. We can get tied up in the problems surrounding us and the busy pace of our lives and we need to make sure we make the time for the people who matter. Just last week my son wanted me to accompany him on an excursion with his school. I said I couldn’t because I was too busy at work. He was disappointed. Today I’m thinking that I should have taken a day off and shared that experience with my 9 yr old son. I can’t get that time back now. Is my workplace going to fall apart if I’m not there for a day?  No, it’s not. 

Barbara Locke,  a Search Analyst at Searchme has created this stack as a tribute to Randy Pausch. Take some time out to watch, listen and reflect.

Searchme a winner with students.

(I added the arrows in the above screenshot!)

Today I was teaching our Yr 7 students about researching effectively. We were exploring keywords for search and I showed them Searchme. I wanted them to see how they could use Searchme’s stacks to collect webpages and keep a record of the websites they find useful for their investigative research.

These students had seen Searchme and Viewzi when I introduced them to these new search engines a couple of weeks ago.  As I was moving around the room one of them told me she uses Searchme as her default search engine now. The real magic happened when I demonstrated how you save the pages to a stack that you have created. They were won over in that instant. They spent the rest of the lesson dragging relevant pages to stacks they had created. They all were drawn in by the fact that you have the page loaded and can see your search results as a page view. You can start to make assessment as to whether or not the resource might be relevant. They got the idea really quickly that stacks were a means of collating your research so that you could go back and peruse in depth when you were ready to tackle questions that needed addressing. A couple of them made mention that this would help in making sure that the bibliographic data you needed was accessible -they did note that they should be collecting this along the way and should not leave the construction of a bibliography until the last minute! All of them thought it was very cool that you could save videos and images to your stacks as well as standard webpages.

I was using Google last night to collate links for a wiki page I was putting together for our study of ‘Little Women’. I wanted my students to get some grasp of the period and was searching for Amercian Civil War links. Google wasn’t returning what I was looking for so I turned to Mahalo. Surprisingly the page for American Civil War has not been fully fleshed out -I was surprised anyway. I went to Searchme thinking the returns would be so so but was pleasantly surprised. I found myself loving the full page view and being able to flick through results so easily. Within minutes I’d found what I was looking for at appropriate levels of understanding for my students and my wiki links were completed.   

Have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results from Searchme. I keep expecting mediocre results but am finding relevant pages appearing. The speed at which I can assess a resource is a real winner for me and I’m guessing it’s going to be for my students as well. I’ll be very interested to watch their adoption of these new alternatives to traditional search.

Searchme – Stacks are fun (and useful too!)

Got a comment on my blog from the crew at Searchme about new features they have added that make this new visual search engine even more appealing.  They’ve added video and image search as options. The video search is interesting. The pages (only from YouTube at the moment) load automatically for you to view – as you click through the results that flip across your screen you can watch them without having to visit the YouTube site. Probably best explained by watching the video Searchme produced to explain the process;

The other very cool feature that I think has many positive benefits for education is the introduction of what they are calling stacks. Stacks gives you the ability to save webpages from the search you are conducting. To do this you click on ‘new stack’ in the top right hand corner of the screen and give it a name. You then click on the page you want, pick it up and drag it into the stack. Your stack can be a combination of webpages, video and images. You can share your stack by emailing the link or by grabbing the code and embedding it in your blog, facebook, myspace, delicious, twitter  and various other accounts. Again, watch the demo video they have produced to explain how you do this;

I can see the possibities for student research with stacks. I think this is going to be a very appealing option for the students I work with – they like the visual format and the click and drag appeal of storing pages is going to be a winner. The fact that they would be able to share their stacks with others would be incredibly useful for group tasks. This will be an easy sell provided the search results are up to scratch. Being a new search engine in beta there may be problems with getting a thorough search result so patience will be required and we may have to qualify this with our students. Nonetheless I think it’s worth pursuing – I’ve no doubt our students are going to love it.  

**update: note this comment from Babu Satasiya from Searchme;

If you do not find pages, you have option of adding your urls in stack and it will be imaged on priority basis and you have all your custmize stacks ready to share with your friends on facbook, myspace and as per your wish.


Viewzi – another new cool visual search engine.

On the back of yesterday’s post about Searchme comes the release today of Viewzi, a new visual search engine. I pity the poor software developers out there trying to hack their brains for new names that are going to stick! Like Searchme, the visual interface is intriguing.  Viewzi opens up to a clean interface with a search box. When you enter a term your results page looks like this;

My search term was whaling and 15 possible windows presented themselves for opening. There are a variety of mediums for you to select from; MP3 files, video files, Reuter’s News view,  Web screenshot view, Simple Text view with rankings from Alexa, Google and Yahoo, 4 sources view which searches Ask, Google, MSN and Yahoo and many others including photo sites, Amazon and even cookbooks!

Here’s what the page looks like when you select video files;


You can remove tags from the results page and this will eliminate videos that are tagged with that term. A good visual way of teaching students how you can narrow a search according to key words you use. There’s no doubt this is a busy search engine with a plethora of options that may be a bit overwhelming for the novice searcher. However I do think it’s another great way to demonstrate to our students that there is more out there than their usual default search engine of choice.

As John Connell and Clenda pointed out in comments on my Searchme post, the results you get may be a bit hit and miss at this stage. These search engines are in beta and need time to develop into something great. I’m still going to give them a go -I think they’ve got the engagement factor that can get our students excited about search and may go a long way toward leading them to new learning opportunities that they may have missed if they’d just scanned through the first page of results from their text based search engine. Give Viewzi a try.    

Searchme – visual search engine suits me!

A comment on my blog from Charles Knight led me to this visual search engine that I hadn’t seen before. Searchme has huge appeal for all those visual learners out there. It has huge appeal for me and I don’t necessarily think I fall into the visual learner category (but I could be wrong about that!). 

I love it because of the way it represents search results. It’s like the iTouch – your search returns are represented with the actual page on the screen – behind it are the other pages that you can view by clicking on them or using the scroll tab at the bottom of the page. Here’s what it looks like. I searched for one of my all time fave bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

You get the idea, right? I’m loving it. I can see the appeal for students today. Most of mine default to Google because they don’t know what else is out there. They get a page of results and click through text after endless text trying to find something suitable. With Searchme they get a eyeball on the page straight up and can start assessing its suitability from the get go. When you start typing your search request categories pop up to allow you to filter your search or you can choose the search all option. It’s still in Beta so you can’t expect brilliant returns every time, but Charles at AltSearchEngines has posted about it saying that it has just received another billion or so in funding so things can only get better.

Don’t you just love what’s happening with Search engines today? Semantic search engines like Mahalo and visual options like Searchme are helping to make search more meaningful for our students. If Google don’t watch out they might have some competition on their hands. Better get Knol out there soon I’d say! 

Thanks Charles for the comment and for your great site. AltSearchEngines – check it out!