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Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting
Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting

This series of tutorials addresses a range of  search topics.  Users who have no prior knowledge of how to locate information on the Web as well as searchers with advanced skills have found the lessons to be helpful. Your suggestions and feedback are very helpful and greatly appreciated! 

Lesson 1| Lesson 2 | Lesson 2a | Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 | Lesson 5a | Lesson 6
Syllabus: Course Overview

Course Title: Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting

Semester: Begins and ends at your own pace!

Duration: 6 weeks

Instructor: Simone Leroy

Formerly: Assistant Professor, Librarian & Coordinator of Electronic Resources, The Sage Colleges, Albany & Troy, NY

Currently: (Aug. 1999 -->) Director of Learning Technologies, MIA

Email address: tech_teacher@

Course Description:

"Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting" is a comprehensive  introduction to web searching methods and techniques. Assuming no prior knowledge,  the course will explain ways to find what you are *actually* looking for, instead of a lot of other "interesting" links. The class includes an overview of the World Wide Web (Web), some of the kinds of information for which you can actually search (such as graphics, audio clips, software and interactive tutorials), an overview of different types of searchable Web resources (such as indexes and directories), how to use search engines effectively (such as Altavista, Hotbot, Excite) as well as an overview of multi-search engines (such as Metacrawler, Dogpile). 

Course Objectives:

To explore a variety of Web tools and search techniques in order to find useful information in a variety of formats. In other words, Searching, in general, Sleuthing for specific information, and Sifting to separate the good and the awful. It is important to note that because of the wide range of web search tools and techniques, the focus of the class is broad-based, that is, this is *not* an advanced course, although we will be using some advanced techniques.

Who should take this class?

The search techniques and resources demonstrated, discussed or recommended in this class will have a wide range of practical applications and are therefore suitable for anyone that has an interest in finding information on the web. Some of the searching techniques, such as Boolean and field searching are not, conceptually, Web specific and may be applied to other database environments. Neophyte and seasoned searchers alike have found these tutorials useful. 


Due to the format of the class, students will track their own progress. Homework will be assigned to demonstrate concepts and web tools. Students who may submit specific questions to the Instructor by email. 

1. What's the Web and why can't I find what I want?

  • What is the World Wide Web?
  • Why can't I find what I want? (some of the reasons users might not be able to locate the information they need)

2. Where do I start? (Web Directories)

  • What is a Web Directory? How is this different from a Search Engine?
  • Discussion of types of web directories
  • Examples of web directories

2a. Evaluating what you find (Tips for Selecting Resources)

  • Why "evaluate?"
  • How do I know what to look for?
  • Tips on identifying good web sites

3. What's next? (Web Indexes and Search Engines)

  • What is a search engine really and how does it work?
  • What's a 'bot?
  • What are the most popular and useful search utilities?
  • Which is the best search engine?

4. Power Search Techniques (Boolean and Field Searching)

  • Boolean searching
  • Field searching
  • Using search templates
  • Refining search results

5. Locating Images: Photos, Pictures & Graphics

  • How can I find pictures or photographs on the web?
  • Using popular search engines to search for images
  • Using specialized utilities to find images

5a. Photos, Pictures & Graphics -- Quick Reference

  • Where to go to locate a variety of different kinds of images
  • 6. Using Meta-Search Engines (Searching several indexes at once)

    • What is a multi-threaded or multi-search Engine?
    • When would I use one?
    • If meta-searchers are so great, querying my favorite search engines in parallel, then why wouldn't I always use one?


    Suggestions?? send ideas, comments and requests to:

    7. Searching Safely: Working the Web with Children & Young Adults

    • What are parental issues and concerns about the Internet?
    • Why should my child use a specialized search utility? 
    • How do kidsafe search engines work?
    • Online safety

    8. Specialized Sleuthing: Knowledge Know-how

  • When do I need to use a specialized search tool?
  • What's available for me to use for free?
  • Where can I find special collections of search engines and databases?
  • What are examples of uses of such tools?
  • 9. Neat and Nifty: Web Searching and Sifting Utilities

    • What kinds of utilities are available to help find and organize Web-based information?
    Special thanks to my former colleagues: Doris Robinson, Christine Shields, Ann Ardell, Kingsley Greene and Lynne King! (of The Sage Colleges where I was formerly Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Electronic Resources)

    Last updated: February 18, 2019;  Links checked: February 18, 2019
    Copyright © 1998-2019, Simone Leroy, Director of Learning Technologies, MIA

    Lesson 1| Lesson 2 | Lesson 2a | Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 | Lesson 5a | Lesson 6

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