Guided Search for Research using Google Custom Search Engine
A lot has been talking and writing about guided inquiry in K-12 but not much on the library based guided search on the web. Recently, at my current workplace (ICS Inter-Community School Zurich), I had the opportunity to collaborate with my Middle School colleagues' for a few Guided Search for Research Projects. For the guided search we choose Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE) embedded on LibGuides - an easy-to-use content management system (instead of LibGuides, it can be any other open source platforms such as Google site, Wordpress, Weebly or Wix). A huge benefit of GCSE is that it allows users to search only a certain domain, webpage, or even topic. It makes the Internet smaller, and you're in complete control. GCSE has public URL which can be shared with anyone, add collaborators to add resources, and more importantly, you can embed the particular GCSE anywhere you want to...!!
Step by step procedures: A few simple steps can make the collaborative work easy and involved. First of all, it's better to have the Research Project Plan (RPP) from the teacher(s) that can help librarians determine Keywords and Guiding Questions. A a heads up, you should also request the concerned teachers to provide you a few sample resource websites related to the Research Project (RP).
Once you receive the RPP, you then create the GCSE for that particular project at https://cse.google.com. Give the GCSE a name that is meaningful usually related to the RP. You should have a least one resource URL to create the GCSE, and the RPP already have a few related source links that you received from the collaborative teacher(s). Click Create, and you'll see a confirmation on your screen as below...
After creating the GCSE, click on the search engine name and active/ inactive different options based on your needs. You can also add the search engine keywords at this stage and choose the language of the search engine. Add collaborators from the Admin option and set up the look of your GCSE. If you're not technically very sound, I would recommend leaving Advanced section as it is by default. After necessary add/amend, click Update.
Now it's time to add the RP related resources. One can add resource links individually or in bulk. For bulk addition, make sure that you separate each URL by an Enter (no comma, space or semi-colon) means each website is individual and separated by an enter. While adding resource link, you should determine whether you want to add the entire site or just the webpage by selecting appropriate option shown below. Make sure that you click Update each time you add resource link either individually or in bulk. You can add resource link continuously as long as you want.
After the addition of related resources, its time to make it available to the audience, e.g. students. The easiest way to make the GCSE accessible is to embed it on the course/subject or project website/webpage. To get the embedded code, go to the specific GCSE and click on it. Click Get code. See the pictures below...
Once you get the embedded code, insert that in the target place and the GCSE is ready to SEARCH! At ICS, Zurich we use LibGuides and embed the GCSE in the specific subject/department guides. An example of ICS, Zurich LibGuide with GCSE.
The Challenges of GCSE: To me, the top disadvantage of GCSE is that you can't add subscribed/password protected databases/web page links. But hey! it's the common for any search engine that they are unable to retrieve data/information from commercial databases/aggregators.
The other challenge of the GCSE is the advertisement on the top of the search results/hits. Because we use the free version of the GCSE, we've to accept it. My advice is to inform your user to scroll down to get the hits/results!
Few more examples: