Do You Google?. It's More Than Just a Search Engine

By Silva, Danny | The Agricultural Education Magazine, May/June 2011 | Go to article overview

Do You Google?. It's More Than Just a Search Engine


Silva, Danny, The Agricultural Education Magazine


Most of us have used Google to search for information and we may have even told our students to "Google it" at some point in time. But did you know that Google has a lot more to offer. Google is more than just a search engine. Google has technology that educators and students can benefit from and the best part: it's free.

As an educator, I try to use technology in my classroom all the time either to present or share information, communicate with colleagues, or produce materials for the class. I have my students use technology for the exact same processes.

One of the problems that I used to face with students and the use of technology was inconsistency of software and hardware students were using between school and home. The other problem was how to turn in, share and collaborate with assignments and information. Google Apps has helped to solve these problems for the school environment.

Students now do not have to print out their assignment or email an attachment to turn it in. They are able to share it with the teacher for correcting and other students for peer editing. Teachers and students can leave comments on the document. More importantly comments and even editing can be done on the same document at the same time with multiple people.

Students also do not have a need for a flash drive or other storage media. Anywhere students have access to the Internet they will have access to their documents. They are even able to upload and/or convert documents from different software to Google Apps.

Google Apps is platform agnostic software that is used in an Internet browser. Students can use any operating system (Windows, Apple, or Linux); all they need is an Internet browser that is up to date. Google Apps gives you access to a word processing program, a spreadsheet program, a presentation program, email, and a calendar program. You can use your personal Gmail account to access your personal Google apps (little a), but a better alternative for Education is to sign up for Google Apps (Big "A") for Education. (http://bit. ly/googleapps4ed) This allows you to have more control over the programs and lets you sign up students through your school account for these great tools. Let's take a look at what Google can do for your classroom, school, and ag program.

Google is known for its search page, but are you and your students utilizing its full potential? There are some great resources on the Internet to show the capabilities of search. Google even has a set of lesson plans (http://www.google.com/ educators/p websearch.html) on using search.

Here are some of the things that might be useful for your classroom.

Google Advanced Search: Something that is easily missed on Google's Search page is a link to Google's Advanced Search. This takes the place of having to know Boolean Search Language, but more importantly Advanced Search will let you pick a file type, look for only recent information, designate usage rights (free to use), and even define a region. For example, let's say you wanted to do a search for corn on Google's main search page. You would get back around 123,000,000 results. But if you used advanced search, you could limit your search to results for corn, PowerPoint files, and information within the past year from the United States. What you would receive are 800 PowerPoint files from the United States posted in the last year - current information ready for you and your students.

Google Timeline: Timeline is a great way to put information in historical or chronological perspective for students. If you do a search for FFA in Google, then click on "Timeline" under "more search tools" you get a visual representation of the events that have happened. You will see a significant spike in 1928. "Students look at this time line, what do you think happened in 1928 to get such a huge spike of news?" This could be a great way to get your students thinking when introducing FFA to them. …

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