Dying to become a master of Google’s search engine? If so, look no further than Power Searching with Google, a new, free class offered by the tech giant starting July 10th. The course promises to teach users "tips, tricks and tactics" that'll help you "find exactly what you’re looking for, when you most need it." Real talk: Even if you don't spend your time dreaming about how to improve your searching skills, you should take Google up on their offer to teach you.
Last year the results of a two-year study found that college students are overly reliant on simple searches, which, thanks to the ultra-personalization of search engines, don't always turn up what you need. The researchers recommended that students receive "better conceptual training on how search engines organize and retrieve information." If we want students to grow up digitally literate, they need to know their way around search engines. But, thanks to librarian layoffs and crunched teacher schedules, too many kids aren't being taught how to conduct information searches, either online or through the old school card catalog. Those of us who aren't students anymore but have to use the web for work and fun are also guilty of sticking to basic searches, mostly because we don't know how to do anything else.
Google’s education program manager Terry Ednacot writes on the Google Blog that no matter what your current searching ability may be—from those of us who have no idea you can use the search box as a calculator to folks who are already masters of Boolean logic—through the six 50-minute lessons of the class, you'll learn how to use the search function to "solve everyday problems" and help you "find what you need faster." After taking the class, says Ednacot, you'll even be able to do cool stuff like "identify the location of a picture your friend took during his vacation" or find "that green-covered book about gardening that you've been trying to track down for years."
And, instead of a boring series of slides, Ednacot says the class will be interactive—style-wise it'll take a page from MIT and Harvard's new joint online learning platform edX. You can work through the individual classes at your own pace, as long as you complete them before the end of July. If you pass the post-course test, you'll even get a printable certificate of completion. While certificates are awesome, in our information-heavy society, isn't knowing how to really manipulate a search box worth so much more?