Tapping the Power of Google: A Virtual Inservice

by Warren Buckleitner (This page is also at http://buckleit.googlepages.com/ in Google Pages)

Google can make you smarter, faster. Or at least it can help you can appear to be smarter. So it makes sense to take a few minutes to learn a few of Google's tricks. Here's a one day workshop on Google works for ECE inservice, or for self-teaching.

1. Make sure every participant has a computer with Google Earth preinstalled and running, and reliable Internet service. At the very least, make sure you have a 2:1 participant/computer ratio, and the computers are "tuned up" with the latest browsers and pluggins.
2. Projector and your computer, with bookmarks ready for the pages below. Take some time to personalize the information with your town's coordinates in Google Earth, and so on.
3. Chart paper and markers (one sheet for groups of 3 to 5).

AM Introductions. Have each participant Google the person sitting next to them (type their name, in quotations, into Google), to "learn something interesting." (keep it safe!). This will create a good context to discuss ethical search engine use, if you like. But don't let things digress.

Ten Amazing Things About Google. Rather than "teach" Google's features, let your participants discover it ("every time you teach somebody something, you prevent them from discovering it themselves" -- Piaget). So pass around one sheet of chart paper, and have each group start digging into Google. As each group makes a discovery, demonstrate it on the big screen. In this way, your participants can spread discoveries from one table to the next. Encourage the use of Google Notes to keep track of findings. In our workshop, we came up with 50 features that were new to just about everybody.

After the morning break, explain search engine history, how Google makes money, and so on. Use the links below, and have each person follow along. You can set this up as a scavenger hunt if you like.

PM Application. Each person should set up a Google page, Calendar or iGoogle page. As they finish a page, let them display the page on the front screen.

Finish with a Google review. Call out a strange fact, preferably search engine related, and see who can find it first. The winner should call out the answer. For example, what preschool curriculum model did both Google Founders attend as young children?

You can also print this page if you like, but typing URLs just isn't very fun. Just remember, if you try it, you'll learn it.

Google wasn't the first search engine. To put things in context, visit http://www.searchenginehistory.com/ and http://www.webreference.com/authoring/search_history/ to learn a bit about Internet search technology in general.

Hint: Type “Google” into Google to get a quick tour of main features. Try it.
Now read “Google’s Secret Formula” from Portfolio magazine’s September '07 issue:
at http://www.portfolio.com/culture-lifestyle/goods/gadgets/2007/08/13/How-Google-Works. In particular:
• Read the bios of both Google founders Page and Brin. What type of school did they attend as young children? (Here's an argument for quality early childhood education).
• Which one of them wrote “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine?”
• Watch them present at the TED conference, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FSE3TNFkJQ
• Learn what it’s like to work at Google http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd6BPhJjYL4

Is Google too good to be true, or is there some underlying financial motive? I'd say both are true. Google makes money by selling ads, stock and premium services. Start by following the money. First, visit http://www.google.com/intl/en/ads/index.html and https://www.google.com/adsense and be ready to explain the general concept of “contextual advertising.” Next, take one of the quizzes at http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/ If you're feeling paranoid (Google’s spider bots never sleep) visit http://www.google-watch.org/ and you'll see why Google makes some folks very nervous. These fears are not completely unfounded. For more on how search results have been can be contaminated by business interests, visit
http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/search-report-disclosure-update-abstract.cfm (disclaimer, I serve as an adviser on children's issues to this group).

Hint: Type “earth” into Google, and the first sponsored link is to Google Earth. It works for all the main Google services.
Everyone has done a basic Google search. Start searching smarter, by visiting http://www.google.com/intl/en/help/features.html and scrolling down the page a bit. Click on any item, and then try it in another browser. Try as many techniques as you have time for. Other things to do:
Start by customizing your home page, with iGoogle. You need a Google account, which is "free" (see "is Google really free?" above).
Find a patent http://www.google.com/patents (find product D492679)
Browse a book http://books.google.com/
A satellite view of my office.
Find the Arizona Battleship Memorial at Pearl Harbor first by looking at the regular map, and then downloading and installing Google Earth from http://earth.google.com/ where you can watch related movies.
Search with your voice and cell phone, at http://www.google.com/goog411/
Set up your personal clipping service, at http://www.google.com/alerts

Google can transform how teacher teach.
Google for Educators is a good first stop at http://www.google.com/educators/index.html
Next, have a look some of the tools Google recommends for teachers, at http://www.google.com/educators/tools.html
Need Lesson Plans? Googles indexing sorts them by subject. Have a look at http://www.google.com/Top/Reference/Education/K_through_12/Educators/Lesson_Plans/
Did you know you can set up your own school search engine, at http://www.google.com/coop/cse/ (it is free, and ad free for non-profits).

Stand on the shoulders of giants, and get the latest literacy research, at http://scholar.google.com/
Here are PageRank’s Top 62 Education Journals http://www.google.com/Top/Reference/Education/Journals/

Share your school’s shared staff documents, with http://docs.google.com
Start a school blog, with one of the many free blogging tools. Google owns Blogger, at http://www.blogger.com
Start a shared school calendar, and display it as a widget on your website, such as the one we've posted on our community technology center home page (Mediatech Foundation) http://www.mediatech.org.
Sharing collaborative information between groups of people is where the power of Google really lies.

It is fun to put the Google of today in context of a 1966 prediction made by Patrick Suppes, a CAI pioneer and currently a Stanford professor; ''In a few more years, millions of schoolchildren will have access to what Philip of Macedon's son Alexander enjoyed as a royal prerogative: the personal services of a tutor as well informed and as responsive as Aristotle." Google was incorporated in 1999, and it is just one of many web-based services that is transforming the teaching/learning process, before our very eyes.

I designed this “textbook on a page” to accompany my workshop titled “Google-izing Your School” for a one day inservice for the Rutgers Center for Effective School Practices. Feel free to use it for your workshop. I have no business relationship with Google, and (unfortunately) don't Google stock.

(feel free to add to this list)
Here are some pages we made today.