1. I am an avid Google fan. For my money (um, none) it is the simplest, easiest, and most effective search engine. Have you ever tried, however, Google’s Advanced Search? It lets you choose what words to exclude from your search and customize the results. Another fun tool is Google’s Custom Search, which lets you name your own search engine, tell it what sites to search, and customize the look and feel. This might be useful for teachers who want their students to stick to a few trusted sites for searching.
2. Wolfram Alpha– It is different from traditional search engines because instead of searching for web pages that might have the answer to your question, it actually ANSWERS your question. This works best with mathematical queries, for example, a search for “population of china” results in a simple one page answer containing the current population right at the top of the page, a graph of recent and long term population history, and related demographical data. There is also a great page available for teachers with ways to use W/A in the classroom.
3. Bing. I hate Bing. I don’t know why, I just find the results are geared towards selling me something instead of helping me answer my query. But one thing I do like about Bing is it’s Price Predictor. Anytime I need to purchase airplane tickets, I check Bing to see if the fares are expected to rise, fall, or hold steady (they measure this based on recent price trends). I’ve gotten some great deals this way.
4. Delicious– Since I use Delicious to keep track of all my bookmarks (although I’ve started dabbling in Google Bookmarks as well) I like searching its database for other sites that have tags similar to what I have tagged. A “tag” is a keyword that describes what a website is about, and is, at least on Delicious, user-defined.
5. Google Fast Flip – I know, another Google thing. You’d think I work for them or something. Hey, Google! You hiring? But seriously,
really, are you hiring? what I like about FastFlip is the visual aspect. You type in a topic, and it shows you results as “front pages” of a newspaper. My students find it easier to find current events this way, as opposed to a plain web search.