Thing #7: Cool Google Tools

Google is the most famous search engine on the web these days, with the very name becoming a verb in our language. Here's Wikipedia's entry on this phenomenon:

The verb to google (also spelled to Google) refers to using the Google search engine to obtain information on the Web. For example, "Mary googled for recipes." A neologism arising from the popularity and dominance[1] of the eponymous search engine, the American Dialect Society chose it as the "most useful word of 2002." [2] It was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary on June 15, 2006,[3] and to the 11th edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in July 2006.[4] The first recorded usage of google used as a verb was on July 8, 1998, by Larry Page himself, who wrote on a mailing list: "Have fun and keep googling!"[5]

Although we generally equate Google with web searching, that's not what this "thing" is about. Google also has a variety of free web tools that can be particularly useful in education. Some of these are:

Google Alerts - will e-mail the news to you as it happens. Just enter a search term (educational term, news topic, person, event, sports team, etc.) that you would like to keep tabs on. Whenever that topic appears in a news item or on the web, Google Alerts will send you an e-mail.

Google Calendar - lets you organize your schedule and share it with family, friends, teachers, students...

iGoogle - gives you a customizable home page where you can add links, news feeds, gadgets, etc. (Be sure and look at the gadgets - these are really fun!). Students can use iGoogle as their home page. They can have tabs for separate subjects or projects. They can set up gadgets to deliver information on topics, etc...

Picasa Web Albums - similar to Flickr; Google's version of photo sharing.

Google Scholar - Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, pre-print repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.

Google Advanced Search – Allows you to search by file format. In other words, if you want a PowerPoint already created about a particular topic, you choose the PowerPoint (.ppt) and search for your topic.

Google Earth - Google Earth combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips. (SBISD employees, Google Earth is loaded on the Teacher roll-out laptops and maybe other computers, double check before you download).

and Google Docs - Look at all the new things you can do with plain ol' text, spreadsheet and presentation items!

And more! From the Google Search page, click on the "more" pull-down at the top middle of the screen. Then click on "even more" at the bottom of the pull-down list.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise

After looking at each of Google tools, choose two of them to explore further. Try setting up an alert, calendar, notebook, or iGoogle page and using it. If sharing is an option for the tools you choose, make them public.

Blog about your experience with both tools and include a link (if you make it public) to your creation. Be sure and include possible educational uses.


Sara.Harmon said...

Lots of cool things.

Diane said...

While working on Thing 7, I discovered the coolest thing in Google. On the Google Search page under 'More' there is a translation app -- this could really be handy when trying to communicate with students who can not speak English.

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