Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Boolean Search Strategies - Videos

Some students learn more from videos.  In library land there are many educational videos to help students develop better search strategies.  In my delicious account I have tagged several Boolean operator videos.  Many of these I have watched more than once, and occasionally I have shown them in library instruction sessions.  Here's a direct link to a video I just learned about, which was developed by the Kansas University Libraries titled "Effective Searching."  It has a more text in it than images, but it seems to explain the basic strategy without wasting the viewers time.

If you have taught basic library instruction it might not hurt to show a video, especially if you have a tendency to explain the concept too quickly, thinking everyone must already know it.  This information continues to be new and useful to novice researchers.  Boolean operators still remain important elements of effective search strategies, particularly in database searching.

One of our library pages discusses Boolean logic, including useful images.  Titled "Boolean Searching in Library Databases and on the Web" it explains how it works, provides examples, and visually demonstrates the concepts with Venn diagrams.

Below are a few more visual examples of how Boolean operators work or can be entered in searches.  This first example is a Venn diagram:
Circles colored red represent the kinds of results retrieved from such a search.

Library catalog interface showing a Keyword Boolean search with AND plus the OR operators.
 Today I also discovered a Boolean search tutorial created by the Colorado State University Libraries simply titled "Boolean Searching."  It is not a video, so individuals need to advance from slide to slide, but the flash component keeps it from being bare and boring.  From an educational standpoint, it assesses student learning to check for comprehension of principles taught.  Certainly, it is not fancy, but I like it and think it is less obnoxious and more professional than several of the videos I have seen on the topic.  The user has complete control over the speed of the tutorial, which I would think they appreciate. 

Their "Advance Boolean Searching" tutorial follows the same pattern, only it goes into greater specificity on Boolean searching.  These two tutorials do not take long to complete, and it seems that they could easily be completed within a library workshop.

For brevity, this "Boolean Logic" tutorial takes the cake.  It is only 27 seconds.  During that short time frame it quickly introduces George Boole, then it displays Venn diagrams that illustrate how AND, OR, and NOT work.  Finally, it extends an invitation to talk with a University of Illinois librarian if you want to learn more.

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