The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Frozen Planet: AutumnTuesday, 24th May 2016 09:00 - EdenTime is running out for the creatures at the Poles Read more: Frozen Planet: Autumn
Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3Available until Friday, 24th June 2016 00:00With only four weeks left at the Oxford Academy, we look to see how the old and young have learned from each other. Read more: Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3
Thinking Allowed 2016: Glasgow gangs - Russian gangsAvailable for over a year
Shakespeare Speaks: Cruel to be kindAvailable until Monday, 20th June 2016 00:00
Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 2Available until Saturday, 18th June 2016 19:30
Life - with David AttenboroughDavid Attenborough explores the vibrant mix of life found on our plant - where it comes from, and... Read more: Life - with David Attenborough
The UK's EU Referendum - In or Out?What is the UK's EU Referendum? What will it mean if we are 'in' or 'out'? Learn more about trade... Read more: The UK's EU Referendum - In or Out?
Constitutions in transitionThis free course, Constitutions in transition, explores and compares the development of four... Try: Constitutions in transition now
Introduction to bookkeeping and accountingLearn about the essential numerical skills required for accounting and bookkeeping. This free... Try: Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting now
The World Wide Web is a vast information resource. This free course, Information on the web, will provide you with the foundation skills to use search engines confidently to locate both information and images on the Web. You will also learn how to critically assess and reference the information you have found for study purposes.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- use search engines confidently to locate information and images on the web
- address critically resources that have been located on the web
- describe some of the processes underlying search engines.
- Learning outcomes
- Information on the web
- 1 Accessing online information
- 2 How to do it
- 3 An Internet search example
- 4 What's going on
- 5 What it means
- 6 Where to learn more
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
When you submit your query, the search engine will look up each word of the query in the index and construct a list of hits. Hits are pages that contain all of the words in your query.
If you perform an advanced search, additional filters are applied to the hit list. For example, if you search for documents in the .ac.uk domain only, pages from other domains will be excluded from the hit list.
Some search engines provide extra features. Most will check the spelling of the words you entered, and warn you if you make a spelling mistake (but remember that many web pages use American spelling). Some offer stemming, that is, including common grammatical variants. Some may search for common synonyms as well as the word you typed.
Replacing grammatical variants of a word by its root or stem; for example replacing 'searches' and 'searching' by 'search'.
Look at your favourite search engine. Which of these features does it offer? Look for the help pages or search tips.
4.3.1 Searching for images
When I searched for an image of a gorilla, was the search engine really recognising images of gorillas? The answer is no. Instead it was searching for the text 'gorilla' associated with the image – in the filename, in the alt text description or in the text surrounding the image on the web page.
Alt text is a description of an image for people who might have difficulty seeing the image itself. It can be seen when a mouse is passed over the image.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Information and Communication Technologies courses or view the range of currently available OU Information and Communication Technologies courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 17th March 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 17th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (952 KB)
- PDF (1.8 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (752 KB)
- ePub 2.0 (755 KB)
- Kindle (619 KB)
- RSS (322 KB)
- HTML (995 KB)
- SCORM (992 KB)
- OUXML Package (36 KB)
- OUXML File (130 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.