Sunday, February 14, 2010

Will Google Rule the World?

I have been amazed at how in a very short time, Google has developed into what I consider one of the most popular, if not the most popular, educational tool in the world. What did we do Before Google (B.G.)?

In 1995, two very young but entrepreneurial college students met and to brainstorm a new search engine. At first, they agreed to disagree on how to undertake this mission but soon came together and launched their search engine in 1998 from a garage. I am sure many people are saying, "Why didn't I think of that?" What makes Google so appealing was stated in 1998 by "PC Magazine" reports that Google "has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results".

And, the rest they say is history. But, what really makes using Google so appealing? In addition to the name recognition, I think it is the ease of use and the continual foresight of the company to recognize what is important and relevant in technology today.

Google has really developed into more than just the search engine. Google apps is becoming a useful collaboration tool for education. Having the ability to edit a single document simultaneously provides students with the ability to have their voice heard. The ability to access a document from any place at any time allows students to work on projects from home or outside of school without having to meet at a single location. And, what about those students that continuously lose the flash drive or forget to save it from the school computer? My feeling is that this has the potential to make students more accountable for both individual and group projects since each post identifies the poster and eliminating the excuse that the group just couldn't get together.

Utilizing the cloud to store documents alleviates the problems that occur when a computer crashes. My own experience with this issue has resulted in anger and frustration. But, documents is not the only Google app that has made an impact on education.

What about Google Earth? I am sure there isn't anyone who hasn't looked up the satellite image of their home or place of business. I remember looking up my own home and seeing my new car in the driveway. The most difficult part of that image was that a few months later that very car was totaled while parked in a nearby lot. Google Lit Trips connects the travels of various novels to the actual locales where the novels take place. How compelling to connect the novel to the world!

Google continues to add new applications to its own library, all with the purpose of making things easier for its users.

In education, we all know that in order to truly get experienced teachers to utilize technology, it needs to be easy. If we only had enough time to explore, I am confident that Google has something for everyone.


Mr. Granger said...


Mr. Granger said...

But seriously, Folks.

Google has amazing applications. I like how you talked about all the excuses that google apps negates. Of course, there are still people who don't have access at home. That's the biggest argument against google apps for projects. But that is becoming less of an issue each year.

Google Earth is now google sky (planetarium software), google mars, and google moon. The things you can do with that suite is amazing. I don't even use mapquest when looking for a place. I put it in Google Earth so I can see landmarks and other visual clues for a trip.

Someone else did a web 2.0 post and said something about Google Earth not technically being a web 2.0 application. But I disagree. The app is just the user interface. Within it, you can do all the things that make a web 2.0 site a web 2.o site: add photos, descriptions, links, and more. Google Earth is really just a specialized web browser in that sense.

You're right, Alice. There is something, or more than one something, for everyone at google.

Anonymous said...

Google continues to impress me. Part of the reason that they are so successful is that their employees believe in the company. That pushes them to make it bigger and better whenever possible.

When I first saw the demonstration of the Google apps, I thought, cool...I don't need Word on my computer anymore and I can save it on the Internet. Wow, it is so much more than that.

I agree that this software encourages more accountability in group work, but what about the activities that were not even possible before these apps. One teacher in my building uses Google Docs to collaborate with a class in another town. They wrote a book together in groups. The teachers guided the lessons by giving each group a doc to work on with pictures on each page and had them use Skype to brainstorm what each picture was about. then as a group with students from 2 different classes, they wrote the story.

This was not possible before these types of applications.

I am curious how others have used Google Docs. Any ideas out there?