Search mechanisms should be provided where ever is practical and give learners effective access to a range of information granularities such as those represented by broad topic headings, terminology, facts or problem types. The search mechanisms should be as efficient to use as is possible for the media used.
Hard copy media search mechanisms use an underlying structure to define their organisation. The most common is an alphabetical listing as found in an index or glossary. Other similar search mechanisms may be based upon a variable such as date. These are reliant upon the learner knowing suitable words and dates.
Information based organisation may be used as found in a ‘table of contents’. The efficiency is reliant upon the learner holding suitable prior knowledge to interpret and navigate the organisation of the resource. Learners who hold schemas that are in accordance with the structure of the table of contents will find it efficient to use but learners who do not yet hold those schemas, or who hold an alternative organisation of schemas, may find the table of contents less cognitively efficient to use.
Electronic media may provide hyperlinks to access related information through a mouse click, and may provide a key word search mechanism responding to any word entered through typing.
In summary, search mechanisms should be provided and be organised to align to the learners schemas. Typical hard copy search mechanisms include index, glossary and table of contents. In electronic media hyperlinks and entered-word search capabilities are optimum.