Giovanni, from Viewzi, sent me a tweet (from Twitter), about a new view available from his Search engine. I’m still getting a kick out of the fact that Search engine developers are coming to me to tell me about new features. Obviously they want to get their product out there and have people write about them. I’m dutifully doing that right now, but only because I think what they’re offering may have educational benefits. If I thought it wasn’t useful I wouldn’t bother. Trust me.
Giovanni knows that Twitter is a great tool for optimising the coverage his search engine gets. Take a look at these tweets he posted on twitter this afternoon (evening his time).
I’m not criticising, I think he’s smart to be recognising the potential of the microblogging tool that twitter is. If I had something to sell I’d be doing it too!
Anyway, back to the new views Viewzi are offering. First up is news view. It’s been around for a few weeks now. News sources they use are USA today, The New York Times, CNN, Reuters and Yahoo. A fairly heavy US concentration so be aware of this. I did a search for Stephanie Rice, an Australian swimmer who picked up a gold medal this morning at the Beijing Olympics. Of the nine results that feature on the first of the results pages, three were specific to Stephanie and the other six had Michael Phelps as their focus. Perhaps not the best news search engine choice if you’re looking for Australian content. I did another search for Georgia Russia given the troubles emanting from this part of the world and got returns that would be useful for students investigating this situation. I like the way the results are delivered; you get the headline and the opening paragraph and can click on read more to redirect you to the source article. At the bottom of the page you get an indication of the amount of pages Viewzi has loaded delivering returns for your search query.
The newest ‘view’ they have offered is timeline view. This, I think, could be a handy view for educational purposes. Here’s the result for Georgia Russia that I did this afternoon;
You can see the concentration of results that are a response to recent happenings. Ealier results in the timeline would be interesting for students to look at to track the development of the crisis. Great for classes studying international events. I’ll be remembering this view so that I can point students to it when they are investigating issues in the news.
Viewzi is an interesting search engine. There is so much choice, perhaps a little too much. It’s a search engine you need to spend time investigating so that you can use it to its best potential.
(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.
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.