Google is much, much more than just a search engine!
This statement encapsulates my learnings from the recent Google Teachers Academy (GTA). From the groovy librarian
1. Google Search & Research tools
As a TL the sessions relating to Google Search and Research tools transpired the most with me. Assisting and guiding students toward using effective research strategies and tools is a core role performed on a daily basis. Upon reflection many of these tools are not ‘new’ to me but were reinforced and I was reminded of their existence during the research process. For me, these sessions on Google search and research tools provided man “Ahha” moments during the GTA. Finding and locating the information you, or your students/teachers, are seeking in the most efficient amount of time and using the Google search engine more effectively were key points made during these sessions. My intention in future is to write blog posts about many of these search tools (in particular the new ones to me), but only after I have had space in this blog to my exploration and experimentation of these search tools.
  • New to me Google Squared(labs) – helps you quickly build a collection of facts on any specified topic from the Web in the form of squares.
  • New to me Google Search Curriculum– lessons designed by Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) to help develop students’ web searching skills.
  • New to me Google News’ Archive search– search and explore historical archives, especially newspapers.
  • Google Readability – sort search results by readability – basic, intermediate or advanced. When undertaking a search, click on the “More search tools” on the left sidebar. Then click “Reading Level.”
  • Google Wonder Wheel – visually organises and breaks down concepts into related subtopics. Click on “More search tools” on the left sidebar, then “Wonder Wheel” if it hasn’t appared.
  • Related searches – find related search items when undertaking a search. Click on the “More search tools” on the left sidebar, then “Related Searches” if it hasn’t appeared.
  • *New to me Realtime search– “lets you see up-to-the-second social updates, news articles and blog posts about hot topics around the world.”
  • Google Advanced Search
  • Google Custom search– build your own search tool for your students based on the topic/s to be studied.
  • Google Books
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Timeline
  • Google News Timeline
  • Google News
  • New to me Alerts– receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your topic choice. For example, monitoring news stories on a topic or event.
  • Google Blog Search
  • Google Images
  • New to me Google Image Swirl(labs) – “organizes image search results based on their visual and semantic similarities and presents them in an intuitive exploratory interface.”New to me Google Similar Images– “similar images allows you to search for images using pictures rather than words.”New to me Life Photo Archive hosted by Google – search through millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, dating from the 1750s to today. Many of which were never published.
2. Google Sites**
  • Google’s version of a wiki. It’s free easy to use (so I believe, I’ll get back to you on that one) tool for educators and/or students to create customised webpages with content with the ability to embed different media.
  • Prior to GTASYD I had not really considered the use of Google Sites as the platform for class websites, as I have been quite fixed with using Wikispaces and blogs. I considered Sites as more of a website-creation tool rather than a wiki. Oops, I was wrong!
  • Since GTASYD I am going to reinvent OLMC’s library webpage using Google Sites over the next few months. Upgrading the OLMC library webpage will be a great way to demonstrate to teachers and students at OLMC (and wider educational sphere) what Google Sites can do and look like and become my own exemplar website.
  • But until then check out GoneGoogle, created using Google Sites, to find out how you can use this tool in your classroom or within your school.
3. Google Docs
  • Before GTASYD I had totally underestimated the power and usefulness of Google Docs within the classroom and what the suite contained. The Google Docs suite of apps allows students and teachers to create, store, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. I had only heard of Google Forms (an application within Google Docs) but knew nothing of what it could do. I wished that I had more time devoted to this facet of Google Docs. Rest assured the next survey, questionnaire or quiz I create, or will help classroom teachers to create, will be devised using Google Forms. But in the meantime, Google Forms requires more learning and experimenting from my part.
4. Google Earth & Maps
  • The potential uses of Google Earth and Google Maps in the classroom are HUGE. I am particularly excited at the prospect of learning more about how I can use the satellite imagery, maps, 3D terrain and 3D buildings to create a realistic virtual tours relating to areas of the OLMC curriclum. For example, I want to explore how to integrate Google Earth into English and Literature classrooms. I have enlisted the help of three keen Year 7 students and will be undertaking a Google Lit Trip with one of the Year 7 English novels. (I won’t say what novel or author just yet, as I know this novel hasn’t been shared via the Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trip site. Future blog posts will elaborate on the success of this project. For Geography, Science, History and LOTE (French, Italian, Japanese) classes I can envisage integrating Google Earth in units of study relating to natural disasters, astronomy and space exploration and creating virtual tours of Ancient Egypt and of the three countries as part of our OLMC’s LOTE program.
5. Google Apps for Education
  • Quite a bit of time was spent discussing Google Apps Education Edition (GAEE). Prior to GTASYD I had only a rudimentary understanding of GAEE through brief discussions with the Head of ICT at OLMC. For those of you who don’t know GAEE is an ad-free suite of Google web applications that includes email, website creation, video, word processing, spreadsheets, forms for surveys, group communication, IM chat, calendar sharing and collaboration that can be ’switched on or off’ by the school adminstrators. The HUGE advantage of GAEE: only ONE LOGIN is required. This certainly requires a lot more exploration first.
Other tools the participants encountered during GTASYD were GMail, Google Mobile, Google Talk, Google Sketchup, Google Calendar, Google Groups and Blogger. For an extensive list of Google Tools from A-Z check out this site