Web searching is something we almost take for granted, especially when a browser like G**gl* gets enshrined in our minds as the only and the best one available. I knew a couple of search engines before taking this course; actually, I said elsewhere that Google, Altavista, Bing and Yahoo were the 4 horsemen of the internet. But after clicking on the Noodletools link posted in my WebSkills course, my mind got shaken. I really didn´t know there were so many search engines out there, enough to stack up 2 supermarket aisles; and I take that number will grow up in the future. By following related hyperlinks on the screen, I realized that many of the web engines are designed to work with specific OS (operating Systems) as compiled in this page. I started to click on a couple of the ones listed in noodletools to compare their results and I could see that they actually pull out information in different formats. For example, I searched for “oil drilling” on Ask.com and the entry came up with a bunch of tags on a side panel for further searching and that´s sweet! In Sweet Search the same phrase came highlighted inside the text in different colors whereas in Google I only got webpage titles and a short chunk of texts. It is good to know this kind information; we don´t have to pretend being system engineers but a decent background of this context fits perfectly well for a teacher who is getting ready to face the future and its digital natives.
For my own purposes, however, I tried the same topic on Twurdy, which I found especially helpful for English teachers in that it shows its results based on readability complexity from Gunning Fog index. It basically states that anything bellow level 12 in the index is understandable by the vast majority of people. The higher it gets the more difficult. There are a couple of interesting web-based tools like Twurdy by which you, as a teacher, can measure the complexity of any text by just copying and pasting. Here is one. I recommend using text under 8, for beginners. Find the text you would like to use in class and run the software on it, that´s it.
Finally, even though we learned a lot from browsers and found the treasure list, it is important to highlight that lots of information still remain “hidden” from users; some people have called it invisible information or deep web. In any case, it is also important to know this fact and be ready to do your best in favor of your learners.