As a student, I often found myself in the position of needing information on different subjects in order to finish my assignments. At first, it seemed really hard to find accurate and up to date information, especially in the technology department, which, as you all know, is a field that sees new advances every few months. And from here came a struggle to find the best tools to help me access the information I needed, and truth be told, with a little hard work, the places to scour for information popped up.
Of course, you might notice that many of them offer information about science and technology, but as an engineering student, that is my main query when searching the Internet. Even for not so tech savvy folk out there, the Internet is the best resource archive. You will soon learn that the Internet is the world’s biggest library, the place where all the fresh news come first.
Understanding the search engine
The first step to finding the information you need quick is to master the art of web browsing. Sure, you might smile right now, thinking “How hard can that be?”, but the truth is that many spend lots of time looking at information they do not need, instead of going right where they need. In this case, we will be talking about the all mighty Google. You might want to choose cleaner search engines, if Google is not your type. Here are a few tips on how to search on Google for specific content:
1. Use quotes – If you are looking for something specific, like a text describing an item, enclose your search words in quotation signs (“ “). This will ensure you will find specific information.
2. Filter unwanted information – If you are interested in, let’s say solar panels, but you do not want to see results that offer you to buy solar panels, you can filter some words from your results. Just type your query followed by “-buy” or “-for sale”. Example: solar panels -buy. This will filter out the results having the words “buy” or “for sale”.
3. Find the file type you need – When I had presentations to do for school, this tool was most helpful. If you are looking for a Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation on any subject, type the file type in the query, like so: solar panels filetype:ppt. This will render you you only ppt format results.
4. Use Google to its full power – Many do not know that Google has lots of features useful to any of us. For instance, the Calculator is a great tool for doing a calculation on the spot. Just type in the numbers and you will see the result. Also, the unit converter is a great feature that lets you convert anything to anything (example: 300 meters in miles will give you the conversion). The graph feature lets you graw complex graphs just by searching the equation. These are just a few examples of what Google can do for you. Take some time and learn all these shortcuts and they will prove very useful.
Stay on top, see the news
Once again, Google comes with a great solution for keeping track of your favorite news. Being well informed is the most important step in finding the information you need. The tool we look at now is Google Reader. This tool lets you input the websites you see your news and give you all the headlines as they are posted. This way, you will never let a news article slip you by. Also, Google News offers you the latest headlines and it allows you to sort them by category. But it does not have the same flexibility as Google Reader.
Go off the Grid
If you are willing to go to uncharted waters, then a great resource is the Deep Web. This is a place where information is scattered everywhere and where you can find virtually anything. But be warned, entering the Deep Web is not a simple task, or browsing it. There are no search engines good enough to find much information and there are perils awaiting you at every click.
Bookmark resource sites
If you search for information on a regular basis, then you should get familiar with a few websites that offer free information. For students or teachers or for everyone that likes to expand his horizons, these sites are a great place to start, covering many fields and having up to date and carefully structured information.
Of course, I could not fit all the sites offering information in one article, but this is a good list to get started to, and with time, you will be able to tune in to the websites that suit you the most. Of course, if you have any favorite websites with good and reliable information, please let us know in the comment section.
And now, without further ado, here is a list of great websites that offer free information:
- Discovery Education
- Geoff Barton
- Study Hacks
- Academic Lifehacker
- Hack College
- Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites
- How to Geek
As I have mentioned, these websites offer a good starting point for finding information. If you are a student, then you have definitely visited some in the past. Let us know if you are familiar with other websites that offer free resources for students.