Kritikos: a social search engine

One of the great projects I’ve come across during my time at Liverpool is the Jisc-funded Kritikos tool (previously called ENGrich). We’ve started to customise a version of this software for the School of Medicine, so read on and if you’re interested in applying this to your department, please do get in touch.

Kritikos Search

The Kritikos search screen – students can search for images, flash movies, presentations, videos and documents.

Kritikos, developed by Tim Bullough [Engineering] and his team, provides a visual take on searching by returning results in thumbnails rather than in lists. This helps preview images, presentations, animations and videos much easier.

Sounds simple enough right? Well, Kritikos has a couple of additional clever parts to it:

Learning Registry Logo

Learning Registry Logo

  • Kritikos utilises the Google Custom Search features to restrict results by topic. A typical example  where this works particularly well is in Engineering. Students often search for the likes of ‘stress’ and ‘fracture’ and are bombarded with medical results. The custom search enables the results to relate only to engineering, e.g. stress and fracture of metals, etc.
  • Secondly, the results from the Google search are passed by the Learning Registry, a nifty little tool that displays both metadata (e.g. Author, Title, and Description) and paradata (e.g. Likes, Uses and Relevance to Modules) alongside search results, thus providing end users with a much richer set of heuristics with which to review and access resources. The two-way nature of LR enables Kritikos to capture information from the user to add back in to the existing user generated dataset.
Learning Registry data in Kritikos

Learning Registry data in Kritikos

I told you it was clever didn’t I?

As you can see, the user generated comments, as well as linking resources to taught modules, offers so much potential to learners.

Going forwards I’ll be looking into working with the project team to roll Kritikos out to other parts of the University, with particular focus in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. To have a sneak peak, head over to and try a search.


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