Google vs. ELM: A Tale of Two Search Engines
An information specialist writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote that today’s students are driven by convenience and they’re trained in brands brands such as Google. But as every teacher knows so well, the information found using Internet search engines typically includes results ranging from useful to not useful, relevant to irrelevant, true to false, authenticated to questionable.
Perhaps the most important of the nine information and technology literacy standards is the one that addresses the research process, that is, how to formulate a research question and then gather, evaluate, organize and present the information collected. Understanding how to do this is not only important for classroom success, but it is a critical life skill for the 21st century. But where should students begin their search? Or to put the question another way: are there sources available that are as convenient as Google but more trustworthy, sources that have the potential of commanding brand loyalty as Google does so well? Many teachers already know that the answer to this question is ELM, the Electronic Library for
ELM provides online access to magazine, journal, and newspaper articles, to electronic books, and information from other reference sources. It covers a vast array of topics, including the arts and humanities, current events, health, science, social studies, politics, business and more. The ELM databases encompass some 11,000 magazines with more than half providing the full text of articles, some 14,000 e-books, a worldwide library catalog of more than 60 million records, a Spanish language database, and more than 250 full-text newspapers from around the world, including the Star Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal to name just a few. And the good news is that ELM is available 24/7; just like Google.
ELM is an excellent resource for a number of curricular areas. Social science teachers will appreciate having access to important periodicals including the full text of articles, including primary sources such as photos, speeches and diaries. Both popular and more scholarly publications are covered, as are ALL of the social sciences. For example, ELM encompasses some 400 geography periodicals, almost 800 in history, and 250 in political science. In fact, the total number of social science titles numbers over 5,000! English and literature teachers will appreciate having access to important periodicals such as Early American Literature, English Review, English Studies, Literary Review, Literature and History, and many more. ELM databases are grouped into subject areas such as literary criticism, literature, language and linguistics, and biography. ELM also provides an education database in which a large number of journals on teaching and learning are provided. Science and Health teachers will appreciate having access to the full text of articles in magazines such as Science, Nature, PC Magazine, Physics Review, Nutrition Today, and the Journal of Chemical Physics, and many more. In fact, the ELM database encompasses over 1,200 science and health periodicals covering subjects from Astronomy to Zoology.
Students in grades K-5 will find information on animals, states, countries, famous people, science and historic events. Those in grades 6-12 will find articles on just about every topic; as well as timelines, images, maps, book reviews, and primary source documents.
Most schools in
In conclusion, there are two suggestions that I urge you to pursue. First, seriously consider integrating the Recommended Standards for Information and Technology Literacy (www.memoweb.org) into your classes, and second, have your students take full advantage of the extraordinary online resources available through ELM, the Electronic Library for Minnesota. Some of them may come to believe it’s better than Google!
Tom Shaughnessy, 2006