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Making Enhancements to Search Results – Eliminating ‘Empty’ Lessons and Units

January 24, 2011

Refining search scores and algorithms is a long-term effort.  We’re constantly looking for ways to make searching for great curriculum most efficient for teachers who both need inspiration for tomorrow’s lesson and those browsing for inspiration for next semester’s unit.

Our most recent search enhancement is subtle but noteworthy: we’ve eliminated ’empty’ lessons and units from search results by raising the threshold level of useful content required to make it into search results.

Our search results are currently “heterogeneous”: searches include individual documents (ranging from worksheets, labs, notes packets, lesson plans, etc.), lessons (which are combinations of documents, written lesson plans, and externally linked resources (e.g., units (lessons grouped in a curricular sequence), and courses (units groups in a curricular sequence).  Some lessons, units, and courses contain less content than others. One reason for this is that a teacher may have created the framework for his course but hasn’t yet gotten to a particular unit, and so the unit only includes 1 document — the unit overview). 

We received good feedback that this ’empty’ content was not valuable enough and was slowing down your search processes.  We’ve therefore recently raised the bar so that lessons, units, and courses need to be more thoroughly developed to make the cut into search results.  For example, the following content won’t make the cut:

  • lessons with no lesson plan or document(s)
  • units with no lessons or ’empty’ lessons

Please let us know how your most recent search experiences are going.  We’re eager to hear if this has improved your experience finding great curriculum.

On a related note, we’re currently in the process of re-thinking the search interface and advanced search offerings.  Please let us know what you think would further improve your ability to sort through BetterLesson for the resources that best match your needs.

From → The Archives

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