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Internet tutorials.

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      01.12.2008 18:41
      Very helpful



      Should be in every student's bookmarks!

      Intute is a learning site with a bit of a difference. It's not a search engine or a traditional tutorial site, but shows you how to search for information you want on the internet. It works as follows.

      On the home page, there is a list of subjects you can follow, divided into Science, Engineering and Technology; Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; and Health and Life Sciences. These are further broken down into individual subjects. There are also links to job searching, feedback and internet detective (which goes into some detail about how to evaluate what you find on the web). The home page is very clear and straightforward, with buttons on the left for the sections, text links at the top for matters such as help files, contact details, etc, and text link lists on the main body of the page for the subjects. There is also a quick links box.

      The path I chose to follow was digital photography. Clicking on this in the subject list takes you to the digital photography start page, which introduces the guides who have written this topic, and has button links to each part of the 'tutorial'. These are as follows:

      Using the tutorial
      A very simple explanation of what to expect. Basically, the tutorial will take you through the steps of searching for digital photography information on the internet, evaluating it, etc. Links are suggested along the way, and you can add these to a 'shopping cart'. When you have finished the tutorial, you go to your cart and you have a few options: view or print your chosen links or email them to yourself (I chose the latter, and the email came quickly with all the links shown as clickable); see a list of all the links in the tutorial; add a comment to any or all of the links you've marked; turn the links basket off altogether. You can navigate through the tutorial either by using the button menu, or by clicking on the back/next icons at the end of each section.

      This further breaks into 4 sections - Sources, which gives you some ideas of where to look for offline information, such as libraries, special interest groups, news media, etc; See the Sites, which is broken down into various sections such as photography organisations, how-to sites and image resources; Quiz, where you can test your own knowledge of what you've read; and Sum Up, which does what it says on the can - sums up what this part of the tutorial has covered. You don't necessarily need to follow all the sections right through - you can jump to the ones that interest you.

      For the purpose of this review, I followed the Tour section called 'How-to' sites on the internet for beginner to expert'. This is spread over six pages, covering basic how-to sites, buyers' guides, digital photography courses, image editing information, photography techniques, using the internet to share your images, and dp forums and networking sites. On each page, there is a short introduction, followed by suggestions of sites that may be helpful, with short explanations of what each site offers. By each of these, there is a button so that you can add the site to your links basket if you wish.

      This is about good internet searching. It helps you to compare different search tools, create search strategies, and try some searches to test these out. In this case, the search tools covered are search engines, internet directories, and specialist search tools for photography. Pros and cons are given for each type of search. Again, there are lots of links to add to your basket. Search Strategy covers ideas such as defining what you are searching for, coming up with keywords, thinking of alternative words (such as 'resize' instead of 'change size'), and combining keywords to get the best results. Again, in the discover section, there is a test yourself page, and a summary of what has been covered.

      This, as the title suggests, teaches you how to judge the value of the information you find, pointing out that anyone can write anything on the internet. It suggests questions you should ask yourself (things like, does the writer have a commercial interest in the product/service he is recommending?), and other points such as the location - for instance, if you are looking at something of a legal or social nature, is it relevant in your country? It also shows you how to break down a url (web address) so that you can discern where the information might have come from. Again, at the end of this section is a quiz and a summing up.

      This section give case studies of people who have used the internet for a given search. Let's face it, the people probably don't exist, but the case studies are realistic. Again, there are links in the text that you can add to your basket.

      This is a sort of rounding-up section, which reminds you to go to your links basket and view it, email it to yourself, etc, asks for your feedback and tells you how to submit it, and suggests that you may want to try other tutorials (giving a link back to the home page so that you're ready to start if you want to).

      The last link is 'For Tutors', which suggests briefly how you might incorporate the tutorial into various types of course.

      ***My verdict***
      I found this site really useful. I often find that search engines throw up a lot of commercial sites and totally irrelevant sites, whereas the sites listed on here are all hand-picked to be useful for the subject. I love the fact that you don't have to go to each individual page during the tutorial and bookmark it, losing the thread of what you are reading. You can just list and save them at the end and go to them in your own time. It's difficult to cover the site fully enough in a review, but there is an absolute mountain of useful information in there. I haven't (yet) tried any of the other subjects, but I fully intend to. I think for a student or someone taking up a new interest, this has to be an invaluable site, and I've certainly not found anything else similar on the web. I thoroughly recommend it.


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