Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forJuly 8th, 2004 | back to home

8 July 2004

An academic study on “adult learners and how they search for information”:http://www.elearningeuropa.info/doc.php?lng=1&id=5075&doclng=1&p3=1 reveals much I could have guessed but some new things too.

Only in three out of the fifty scenarios performed, the participants (one different in each case) visited a second Web page of alternatives produced by the search engine. In no case did the participants check more than eight websites, and in twenty cases out of the total fifty they only checked one website.

It also backs up what I suspected/feared about search engine use – the illusion that it is easy causes most people not to bother to invest the time to learn how to do it well. As they said:

Computer programmes, like the use of search engines appear as something not worthy to make the effort of learning. An apparent intuitive handling encourages this way of thinking. However, intuition depends on what is known and with what analogies can be built. If the analogies are incorrect, then the use of software will inevitably lead to disorientation

The full report is at “SEEKS”:http://www.seeks-it.net/.

Thanks to Pandia for providing a link and a summary of the results