Are You a Google Power Searcher?

Physical Search Box by Josh Ellingson, via Flickr user WillowGarage: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willowgarage/4788324036/

While I considered myself fairly adept at online searching in general and using Google in particular, there were things lurking behind the Advanced Search options that made me balk.  Date ranges and searching within websites, but filetype?  Those colour options in the Image Search?  Some features had been added since I’d focused on mastering online searching skills (aka grad school), and while I was picking up tips and tools through Google-a-Day, I discovered that far too often, I found the answer and then moved on, without looking at the tricks recommended by Google.

So when I saw announcements last year for a free online course titled “Power Searching with Google“, it sounded like a great opportunity.  Taught by Senior Research Scientist Daniel M. Russell, the course uses online videos, exercises, and assignments to help users learn more about how to effectively and efficiently search and retrieve valuable results using Google. There were Google+ hangouts, and Google+ was used as a forum on which participants could share strategies, experiences, and insight.

Although I generally keep up with courses more easily when there are in-person classes, which require regular completion of homework, the structure and management of this online course proved much more conducive to learning than I had expected.  With segments and assignments posted online, I could study from wherever I had Internet access — the office during lunch or at home after work.  Though videos and activities were posted on a regular schedule and there were deadlines for the assignments, I could pursue the course on a fairly flexible schedule — any day of the week, any time of day.  I found this particularly useful as I could cover six lessons at once on my days off and not feel like I had to sacrifice sleep to keep up with the course. Although I missed out on the live sessions and conversations (due to the time differences or previously scheduled work or social meetings), I could see how such interchanges could add a great deal to the value of the course for participants and instructors alike.

Now, Google has followed up on this training module with a new one, “Advanced Power Searching with Google“. The two-week long course began 23 January 2013 and offers opportunities for those who completed the previous course to further hone their skills and Google-fu. The same format is being used — videos, online activities, hangouts and forums — and I’m enjoying the course so far.

If you missed the chance to take the first course or to join this second course, never fear!  Course materials for the first course are available online and more details on future availability of the second course should become available from the Power Searching with Google page in the near future.

But now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some online training videos to catch up on and two assignments to complete!  Get out there and happy searching!

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