Computing KS2: Search technologies

This short film gives a brief history of the development of the internet and the invention of the world wide web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and explains the role of a search engine.

The film explains the way in which a search engine catalogues the world wide web, creating an index. The index is then used to find relevant websites after a keyword search query.

The film also covers the use of algorithms to sort the search results and find the most useful, and finishes with a reminder that some companies pay for their website content to be listed at the top of a search results page, like an advert.

This short film is from the BBC Teach series, Cracking Computing.

Please note: When discussing search technologies with pupils it is important to remember that image searches are not considered good practice for children as they can return images that are not appropriate, bypassing internet filters and other restrictions that are often text-based.

Teaching Notes

The technology behind search technology and the huge companies that dominate them is a source of many common misconceptions, and learning about how they work can help to correct these and give pupils a better understanding of a tool they will be using more and more. Activities to support this could include:

  • Searching on a single website rather than the whole world wide web
  • Comparing the results of searching with the same keywords in different websites/books
  • Using a range of search engines tailored to children to give them a more appropriate set of results - e.g. KidRex or Kiddle
  • Treasure hunts based around keyword searches to ‘collect’ pieces of specific information
  • Using questions instead of keywords to find answers to questions

Pupils could be given note taking exercises based around search technologies but they should be carefully structured to avoid the simple copy and paste of results. Changing the mode or genre of the research outcome so that it is not the same as the materials being used can help with this. For example, use an explanation text to create an instruction manual, or an eyewitness account of an event.

Other subjects

Humanities: Search technologies will be an important tool for topic work and there are a lot of excellent online resources to support this. It is important that pupils are taught how to use online texts effectively, which will include learning how to search for relevant information, how to make notes and how to use them in a final piece of written work.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching:

  • KS2 computing curriculum in England
  • Technologies curriculum area at 2nd Level in Scotland
  • KS2 digital competence framework in Wales
  • KS2 using ICT cross-curricular skill in Northern Ireland

More from Cracking Computing

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Creating with computing
Input and output
Logical reasoning
Working with data