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Brian Scarbeau Insights from a seasoned Computer Science Trainer

Google has several products available to educators that you might find of interest to use yourself or with your students.

Google is getting education friendly and now has a website for us to use. They have the tools categorized:

Search, Communicate, show & share and newly featured products.  I use some of these products and I'll share how I've used them.

Under search you'll find book search. Google Book Search allows you to search the full text of our large and growing index of books, from popular titles to old, out-of-print and public domain volumes, to find pages that include your search terms. Once you find a given book, you can browse available pages, search further in that book, find online reviews, and learn where to buy the book or check it out of a nearby library, and in some cases, even read the entire title online.

Using this makes it easier for students to find what they are looking for without spending time looking at meaningless sites.

Google Earth is next on the list. You can use Google Earth demos to get your students excited about geography, and use different Google Earth layers to study economics, demographics, and transportation in specific contexts. For instance: you can use real-time coordinates to demonstrate distance calculations and verify the results using Measurement tools; view tectonic plate-shift evidence by examining whole continents, mountain ranges and areas of volcanic activity; study impact craters, dry lake beds and other major land forms. The only limit to Google Earth's classroom uses is your imagination. Get the new version of Google Earth to explore the galaxies.

Most students have used Google Maps.

Google Maps is an easy-to-use service for navigating maps information. It enables you and your students to look up and study addresses anywhere in the U.S. and in many other countries, get point-to-point directions plotted on an interactive street map, and view satellite imagery. You can also study Yellow Pages listings with reviews, business information and coupons. Best of all, Google Maps is an online application, so there's no downloading required, and you can access it from any computer that's connected to the Internet.

I am sure any social studies class can use this product. They can benefit by using Google News as well. Google News brings together news from all around the world. With Google News, you can browse headlines from your favorite newspapers and magazines, all on a single page, or you can delve more deeply into the topics that interest you most, by searching thousands of news sources at once. Google News also allows you to search archived news, putting more than 200 years of content at your fingertips—so you can find primary sources more easily, and see what real-time observers had to say about the issues and events that would become part of the fabric of history.

I use IGoogle as my home page. I can create gadgets and place them anywhere on the page. Gadgets can be links, news, sports, weather, my inbox for my gmail, calendar or even a notebook. Here's what it looks like:

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The category for Communicate, show & share has some good products to use as well. If you want your students to blog then there is Blogger. If you want a shared calendar for your class and you want to share it online there is Calendar.

There is Docs and Spreadsheets. I tell my students to use this for all their classes so that they can get their work quickly on any computer. No more excuses like my computer is broke or I had no ink for my printer. 

Students will find that Google Docs & Spreadsheets can help them stay organized and manipulate data more effectively. They never have to remember to save their work; it happens automatically. It's easy to collaborate online with fellow students, even when they aren't in the same place, and they can get feedback easily from teachers, parents, relatives and tutors, and enter updates anytime from anywhere. And through a document's Revisions history, kids can check how they've revised a given word processing document and who has helped.

You can use Google Groups. With Google Groups, you can set up your very own place to communicate and collaborate, safely and securely, with others online. You can use Google Groups to post important information such as student or parent contact information, host online discussions, and manage and archive multiple mailing lists. We designed Google Groups to be simple to set up and easy to use, so you can get started using it to share information with students and parents in a hurry. You can set up your group to be published for all to see, or you set it as a private group and share only with those of your choosing. And because you can customize Google Groups pages, you can make your group feel like a true home on the web.

Many teachers want to create web pages or have their students create them. They could use Google Page Creator. With Google Page Creator, you can create functional, attractive web pages in just minutes—without having to learn code. You can customize your pages using a variety of styles, fonts, and background colors, and your pages can include images and links to other web pages. We've designed Page Creator to be simple to use—there's no need to download anything to get started, and you can publish the pages you create with just one click. And perhaps best of all, Google hosts your pages for free.

I use Picasa alot on my computer. Picasa is a free software download that enables you and your students to find, edit and share all the pictures on your PCs. It also offers the Web Albums feature, which enables you to easily upload photos from your computer to the web for sharing with others.

I plan on using Google SketchUp with my Game Programmers. Developed for the conceptual stages of design, Google SketchUp is a powerful yet easy-to-learn 3D software tool that combines a simple, yet robust tool-set with an intelligent drawing system that streamlines and simplifies 3D design. From simple to complex, conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp enables you to build and modify 3D models quickly and easily.

If you want to learn more you can go to their Educators site.  You can download some classroom posters to use and find some classroom activities. There's a Teacher Community online and you can find out about Google Teacher Academy.

Thanks Google for caring about educators.

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Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 7:48 AM | Back to top

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