We all know resources and go-to websites for credential evaluation. We find them through conference presentations, professional development seminars, or day-to-day experience with academic documents. But how often do we use the tools that help us do our research quicker and more efficiently?
Here are some of my favorite online “gadgets” for credential evaluators.
While the majority of information we need is online, it’s not necessarily in a language we can easily understand. This is where Google Chrome wins as the best language tool in my daily research.
GC has a very handy option that allows you to ask the browser to translate the page you are viewing without copying and pasting your text into an online translator tool.
Even better, you can set your GC to remember your translation preferences and apply the auto-translate feature for languages of your choice. The advantage here is that you can view the whole page, but the text is translated into a language you understand.
The navigation between pages through this feature is more efficient than the old copy and paste method.
For Chinese-English translations, LINE Dictionary allows you to draw the characters on the screen and let the tool detect the word you might be looking at.
Similar to LINE Dictionary, you can use your Google Translate smartphone app which allows you to use your camera to translate text in front of it.
Although Arabic and Persian are not available for the camera yet, many other languages are. One of our evaluators often uses the app to decipher Hebrew documents as they may not always come to us with an official translation attached.
How many of you only evaluate recently-awarded qualifications? Chances are, not that many! As people move across the globe in the search for a new life, job, or education, they may be at different stages of their lives when they apply for an assessment of their qualifications. I often find myself researching programs of study that are no longer offered (looking for admission requirements, program duration, study plan, etc.). In such cases, current university or school websites may not provide information that is relevant to my specific case.
In these cases I use archive.org, otherwise known as the Wayback Machine. This amazing initiative is a database of archived Internet sites. Just type the URL you are interested in, and a calendar-like page will pop up showing you when the page was archived and how many times. Usually, you can go as far back as 10 years, but in some cases the Wayback Machine can take you even further than that.
While not every page has been archived, it’s usually worth checking.
Although many websites offer a search feature, they don’t always provide the results you are looking for. You can achieve better results with a more specific search of the domain or URL by using the “site:” feature. It narrows down your findings to anything that is located under that specific domain (e.g. site:ece.org), country (site:uk), or other criteria.
For example, I can specifically search for a phrase within a website and specify the file type I am looking for, e.g. PDF.
If I type site:wisc.edu "Political Science" filetype:PDF in my Google search box I will find all PDF files that contain this phrase "Political Science" that are located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison website.
Saving and Organizing
Performing research and utilizing its findings for future evaluations is one of the foundations of our success as credential evaluators. Not too long ago, the best method to preserve information found on the Internet was to print the page out and file it away in my file drawer or try to copy the information into a Word document to save it on my computer.
Unfortunately, neither of these methods were optimal. Printed information was only available in a physical form. Working remotely required that I either carry everything with me, or just not have access to it. Converting information into a document file oftentimes required additional formatting and cleaning up of the document to make it presentable. This is time consuming and tedious.
Today, we strive for something easier: accessible online, maintenance-free, not to mention tree-saving.
Adobe Acrobat, or any PDF converter tool, has a feature that allows you to create a PDF or other file format from a web page with just one click. The PDF retains the appearance of the website as seen online. You can now save it to your computer, share it, or annotate it.
Majka Drewitz is a Senior Evaluator and a Research & Knowledge Management Evaluator. She has been with ECE since 1999. Majka authored ECE Insights: Evaluation Tools for Russian Credentials and co-authored the third volume of ECE’s Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean series.