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What Teachers Are Searching For

One of the cool things about Google is that they collect data, tons of it. You can use this data to tell what people are searching for. It’s not an exact science, but the volume of different searches gives you an idea of what people are going to Google in search of.

Part of publishing a website like this is researching what people want to know. After all, I want people to find this website through Google (as well as word of mouth, social media, etc), so I need to answer questions that people are asking. So the last few days, I’ve spent some time doing some research to figure out what it is that teachers are searching for when they hop on the Internet.

The results piqued my interest, so I thought I’d share some general conclusions.

Teachers are searching for traditional resources. A lot of searches related to educational stuff are for traditional resources that teachers have always needed and used. Graphic organizers, worksheets, and lesson plans all have some pretty high search volume.

None of these are particular techy things; they’re simply traditional resources placed on the Internet so that teachers can find them. One might draw the conclusion that one of the biggest impacts of technology on education hasn’t been on transforming what goes on in the classroom – but transforming how teachers find resources to use in the classroom.

Traditional resources trump multimedia. You’d think that more teachers would be searching for multimedia to use in the classroom – videos, slideshows, presentations, whatnot. But, looking for a few social studies examples, traditional resources like “lesson plans” and “worksheet” outweigh media related queries like “presentation,” “movie,” and “slideshow.”

For example, “social studies lesson plans” far surpasses “social studies movies,” and “great depression worksheet” surpasses “great depression movie” or “great depression presentation.” That in itself is a little depressing.

EdTech Resources Aren’t Very Well Represented. It’s hard to find examples of queries with EdTech resources that have a large number of searchers. Classroom blogging, for example, has a surprisingly low number of searches. This is a fairly simple and big idea in ed tech, and not one that’s extremely on the cusp. I’d think more people would be searching for resources related in some way to classroom blogging, but I guess not.

WebQuests are an exception.¬†Five or six years ago, I started my first “real” website. It was about education, and a big part of it was about webquests. Interestingly, I discovered that webquests are still a big winner in terms of search queries. Tens of thousands of people search for webquests every month.

Maybe this is the “norm” in terms of technology integration – using a webquest to guide students through Internet resources to complete a problem or project based learning task. It’s not the most innovative or cutting edge way to implement technology, but then again it is (or can be) a lot better than a simple worksheet. So I guess we can be thankful for that.

Update:¬†Since writing this article, I’ve launched another website about webquests: Rockin’ Webquests. You can read more about it in this post.

Parting Thoughts

To be honest, I was kind of surprised that I couldn’t find more specifically edtech topics represented in the search queries. It could be that these things are just so specific that I didn’t think up the right search terms. If anyone has some suggestions to research or some data on other popular queries, I’d be interested to here about it in the comments.

Also, a caveat. The data that Google releases isn’t always 100% accurate. It represents trends over time and estimations, and to some extent it focuses more on monetizable keywords and queries. So, it could be that there are search terms people are using that don’t relate to advetising very well… and thus don’t show up in Google’s data. Who knows.

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