Tag Archives: search engines

Searching for definitions

I have a conception of what digital literacy means, but I realized very quickly that I need to research other definitions, aggregate them in one place, and then craft or steal one (with all due credit of course!). I already have the skills to start this process: go to a search engine and enter relevant search terms. Doing so, I noticed that I really don’t know how to constrain ‘hits’ to only the most current ones. I need to research how to refine my searches so I am only getting the information that is current. I also don’t know if there is a difference between search engines in terms of effectiveness and relevance for the search in question.
Understanding how to create an effective search in order to get valid results is a skill that we think we have, but as browsers evolve, and the amount of online material exponentially increases, we have to learn how to winnow the results in the least time possible. Browsers prioritize our search results using algorithms created for (primarily) commercial purposes. We need to minimize the impact of these algorithms by using tailored searches that eliminate ‘false positives’, to the extent possible. Our need to continually improve our searching skills speaks directly to the need for adults to continually, actively, improve our technical skills.
During my search process, I found a lot of ‘white papers’ that discuss digital literacy. By far the best source I have found so far is the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This organization has developed a comprehensive survey of adult (16 to 64) literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in a technology rich environment. I will be quoting extensively from their materials, and will always include a link so you can read the material yourself. It is well worth the time. Here is the link to their skills assessment briefing: OECD Skills Assessment Paper. In my next post, I will introduce the OECD skills measurement tool, as I will be using it to categorize tasks that I am performing throughout this project. Hence the use of the term ‘meta’ in my blog title–I am going to write about the skills I am using (or need to improve) while I research the need and importance of these skills in daily living.

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