No, I'm not being paid by Google to advertise. And yes, I realize that Google is silently plotting to take over the world. Nevertheless, with the myriad of tools that Google has to offer, we would be foolish not to take advantage of the excellent educational tools Google can provide us (as teachers) and our students. Here's a quick look at how some of Google's tools could be used to help teachers:
- Earth - If you've never played with Google Earth, you should. It's uses in the classroom range from calculating distances between locations (Math) to creating tours of historical places (Social Studies) to many activities in-between.
- Finance - These interactive financial charts could be used in any math, finance, or business class.
- Notebook - I use it any time I'm conducting informal research on the web. Google Notebooks are also great because you can share them.
- Scholar - I use it (almost) any time I'm conducting formal research on the web. Combined with JSTOR, it's usually as good as visiting the university library itself (minus the sweet smell that every library provides).
- Calendar - Perfect for creating school or class calendars, they're even subscribable.
- Docs & Spreadsheets - Wow. Create documents and spreadsheets without paying the fiddler. The best part about using these with your students is the collaboration features they have included: multiple people can be editing the same document at the same time (and with the Revisions tab, you can even see which student contributed what).
- Picasa - Very powerful image editing program. I like to use it in connection with Flickr (check out Darren Kuropatwa's great idea for student-created Flickr Mind Maps).
- SketchUp - Again, wow. This little gem would be perfect to use in a number of classes, including drafting, geometry, and art. It's used to create 3D models of anything - which can then be imported into Google Earth.
- Blogger - Yep. Every teacher should blog. More on that later.
- Translate - I use this to read blog posts created by others in other languages - why couldn't your students do the same?
- Video & YouTube - How can you argue with free video hosting? While you definitely have to keep its educational uses in check, I'll be the first to admit that I've used YouTube with my students.
- Reader - This is my RSS reader of choice. I like it because it's not stored locally - thus I can read my feeds on any campus and in any Internet-connected classroom.
- Trends - I love playing with this tool. I use it with my students to convince them that what they are searching for is really not as great as they might think (as you can see, far more people are searching for sites about math than sites about Brittany Spears). On a serious note, however, with the integrated news results, this tool makes for excellent discussions about cause and effect.
- Page Creator - How many of your students have ever created a web page? Google's Page Creator makes the entire process a snap (in spite of a few bugs here and there).
- Time-line View (coming soon) - This tool should be a history teacher's dream come true.
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