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Net Lenses: Searching Explained

Searching Explained
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What are the ways of experiencing web-based information searching?

Using a phenomenographic approach, doctoral research (2000-2004) has revealed that university students have varying ways of experiencing web-based information searching. The work included the development of a Flash animation to explain the findings and present the Net Lenses model. If you do not have Flash enabled on your browser, the following pages will explain each of the categories identified.

Analysis of the data gathered suggests a framework of four categories that capture students’ different ways of searching and learning to search for information. The four categories found are:

  1. Information searching seen as looking for a needle in a haystack.
  2. Information searching seen as finding a way through a maze.
  3. Information searching is seen as using the tools as a filter.
  4. Information searching is seen as panning for gold.

Each of these categories is associated with different meanings being assigned to the search experience. They are also associated with different awareness structures, different approaches to learning and different search outcomes. The awareness structures are differentiated in terms of different foci, and also in different ways of seeing the information environment, the information tool structure, and the awareness of the quality of information. The linked sections above briefly outline each of the four categories according to their meaning, the structure of awareness, the approach to learning evident, and the likely search outcomes.

Further information is available from the research findings reported in a number of research papers.

Please Note: This material is Copyright to the author and the publishers. Extract Source: Edwards, Sylvia L. (2006) Panning for gold: understanding students information searching experiences. In Transforming IT Education: Promoting a Culture of Excellence. Brisbane: Faculty of Information, QUT.

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