Web Magic, part 1

Posted by Ed Gipple on Jul 9, 2010 5:24:00 PM

There may not be a part 2, or 3, or 4...but so titling this post just in case there will be. We'll not fall into the Star Wars trap of retitling releases!

We had a big MS Exchange issue here last week - power outage timed perfectly with an Exchange update. Totally borked the server. Not having any Exchange experts here, we turned to the most prevalent eLearning resource out there - the search engine.

While the primary focus on search seems to be monetizing results, that value means little without the accuracy of results - of course. That was the big push behind Bing, to 'smartly' filter the results to apply to what you're really looking for, rather than just return a series of links that happen to, maybe, possibly match.

Context is everything.

Is there room in the search market for a company to provide filtered results for those simply seeking knowledge? A service that will NOT return shopping links in the first couple pages of results? The knowledge is certainly out there, and it'll surely never be 'free' of sponsorships or commercials...but just sorting out eBay and Amazon links may be a solid step in itself.

"Informal Learning" is all the rage at the moment, along with social networks and such things, but seems to have a somewhat limited reach. However, just because informal learning and social networks are often grouped doesn't mean they require each other. A solitary, defined, and targeted web search could be the ultimate in informal learning... without any of the 'social stuff' on standby (though it surely could encompass it just the same).

The web is great for shopping, and communication, and playing games...but to those of us in the eLearning field, perhaps its best considered the best repository of knowledge we've mustered...the new, global Library of Alexandria!

Now if it was just...more user-friendly. I don't know how long it took us to sort through the results and pages of Exchange content before we found helpful articles...but it wasn't a quick search and fix. Maybe that's the next LMS feature we focus on, an informal training component which returns lesson or track-specific results from a web search, properly and relevantly filtered.
Ah, dreams...