Getting Away From “Just Google It”

Take an active role in exploring the future of learning. Dig beyond Google and learn more from the Internet in some interesting places.

See if you can relate to this:

One Sunday, my wife was teaching her regular Sunday school class of 4- and 5-year-old children at church. She was teaching some principles learned from a particular story from the Bible. To gain more involvement from her young students, and to help them apply the ideas from the lesson, she asked them all a thoughtful question.

One 5-year-old boy immediately raised his right hand high in the air and eagerly shouted, “Let’s Google it!”

It’s easy for any of us to rely on that ever-present search bar and start typing in our current question. Even the populated statements that drop down underneath can force us into viewing content, or a version of the question, we hadn’t even thought of.

But it’s time to lift some different stones in our search for learning about our areas of expertise. Where else can we go to explore a new topic or ask a question?

1. YouTube: YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Internet, which makes sense since Google now owns it. It processes more than 3 billion search inquiries every month. If you didn’t know already, more than 100 hours of video content are uploaded to the site—not every month, but every minute.

YouTube makes searching for information and content a more visual exercise that is more engaging than just text-based material. Similar to its big brother, Google, you can use the search bar feature and enter a phrase or question to search for content. This content may be submitted by consultants and vendors, and also can include interesting video content on topics such as TED talks.

It is important to remember that YouTube uses algorithm ranking and places the content you are searching through. Rankings are impacted by number of views, the video title and description, and video ratings—the number of likes and dislikes for the video. This subjective evaluation affects the placement of video content in your searches.

2. For less biased content, and a chance to go deeper into a subject, take a dive on and get a more academic perspective. Here you can discover the most recent studies, as well as older research, that have occurred in your field of interest.

I also have varied my searches by going to a different country URL and replacing the .com with a country suffix such as “.nl” for the Netherlands. You can stumble across a few articles not found on the main universal site. Review abstracts of social science experiments and, in some cases, read the complete research paper.

Some research papers appear with a PDF file link you can read and download. Other papers may only be accessible through the professional journals where you have to pay a fee to download them.

The joy of reading scientific papers is examining the references of other research studies. It can be a never-ending maze looking up one research paper after another. But if you are finding research to validate your point of view on a topic, it can be a stimulating exercise. Always look for the clinical significance of the research findings and how they apply in a practical way to your current situation.

3, ResearchGate: While you are searching on, you likely will come across articles listed on a site called ResearchGate. This is a worthwhile place to sign up for.

ResearchGate is essentially a professional network for scientists and researchers. You can join with more than 15 million members from all over the world who use this site to share, discover, and discuss research.

Remember those articles you had to pay for? Some of them may cost $30 or more to download. ResearchGate allows you to request recent scientific articles directly from the authors. Or you may find them immediately available for you to download for free.

The site also allows you to access a forum of scientists and researchers from around the world. You can ask them questions directly. Some will make the time and send you the answers you’re looking for. You might even discover the latest stats on a particular topic.

4. Amazon: I think we all know of, and either love or hate, Amazon. Most of us think of Amazon as the world’s largest online retailer and cloud services company.

But it is also an incredible search engine for books and not just a shopping cart. This allows you to search by topic of interest and find out all the books that have been written, and are available, on the Amazon platform.

Amazon’s philosophy is to effectively identify the value of a product or service to the customer and make something for the customer. One of the great benefits Amazon created for book readers is the ability to “look inside” a few pages of many of the books. You can learn the author’s premise for the book by reading the introduction. Look at the structure of the book through the table of contents. This can generate new lines of thinking for you and creative stepping-stones for your own work and writing. If you’re lucky, you sometimes can stumble upon bibliographies and selected readings at the back of the book in this sneak-peek view. Note that not all pages are viewable or else you wouldn’t buy the book.

By expanding your horizons, and being willing to look in some novel locations, you will have more fun with searching and learning more about your subject matter expertise.

Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP, is author of “GIVING the Real Recognition Way” and Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions. His consulting and learning skills focus on helping companies “give real recognition the right way wherever they are.” For recognition insights, visit: For more information, e-mail him at or visit

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